From the Greek pausis (cessation) and men (month), the Menopause is officially classified as the day after final the menstrual flow and marks the end of reproductive life. At this stage, there is a dramatic fall in circulating oestrogen and progesterone and therefore the balance of sex hormones alters; ovaries stop producing eggs and therefore the creation and shedding of uterine lining ceases, resulting in no menstruation. In the UK the average age is 52 years, but this tends to be earlier in smokers.
The peri-menopause is the period of transition (can be up to 10 years) around the menopause, both before and after and usually starts mid-late 40s but can be earlier. During this phase there are wide fluctuations in (overall falling) hormone levels, which can cause the classic symptoms and this can be extremely variable between individuals
Oestrogen affects different systems in your body including the brain, skin, bones heart and vagina. Low levels of oestrogen can affect all these parts bringing on adverse symptoms.
Some symptoms occur due to these hormonal fluctuations and relative fluctuations between individual hormones. These symptoms tend to improve post-menopause e.g. hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings. However, some symptoms occur due to the overall fall in hormones in general and continue on after the menopause, due to the continuing low hormone levels
e.g. conditions like vaginal dryness, urinary urgency, loss of bone mineral density
Triggered by low oestrogen levels, vaginal dryness can result in thinner skin around the vaginal wall and the decreasing levels of collagen also associated with ageing further exacerbate this. The body’s ability to repair and replace collagen reduces as oestrogen decreases and consequently the walls of the vagina become thinner and more fragile as well as less elastic. As a connective tissue, collagen is responsible for holding cell structures together and the body produces less collagen, particularly during the peri-menopause phase. In addition, the production of Hyaluronic acid also reduces, further contributing to dryness.
Whilst vaginal atrophy cannot be prevented it is possible to take measures to slow down the progression, by increasing the level of collagen and hyaluronic acid in the body and ensuring a diet that is high in vitamin C and other antioxidants to help with the production of collagen in the first place. Collagen and hyaluronic acid work synergistically to stimulate the production of each and help to rejuvenate the skin tissue so that it is more elastic and hydrated.
Drinking a collagen drink on a daily basis can help improve the integrity of your skin from the inside out and help to alleviate some of the these symptoms associated with the menopause.