Premenstrual syndrome, loss of appetite, menstruation, mood swings. From puberty to menopause, every month women have the unpleasant experiences that the menstrual cycle brings. What is the cause? The hormones secreted by the ovaries, adrenal glands and adipose tissue are primarily to blame. The skin is sensitive to these fluctuations and is also affected by them during the different phases of the cycle. Learn more about the changes that the skin undergoes in each phase of the cycle. This will help you to better care for and protect your skin.
The Effects of the Menstrual Cycle on Your Skin.
- What You Should Pay Attention To
- The Skin During Menstruation
- After Menstruation: What Does the Skin Look Like During the Estrogen Phase?
- Luteal Phase: What Does the Skin Look Like After Ovulation?
What You Should Pay Attention To.
The skin changes under the influence of steroid hormones.
Acne outbreaks usually occur in the post-ovulatory or premenstrual phase.
Sebum production changes during the menstrual cycle.
The Skin During Menstruation.
By definition, the menstrual phase is the period. The first day of menstruation is considered the beginning of the menstrual cycle. 4 to 8 days during which the mucous membrane of the uterus (endometrium or endometrium) is detached and discharged in the form of more or less heavy bleeding (6 to 70 mL). It usually occurs monthly, except during pregnancy and after menopause.
What happens to the skin?
When pregnancy does not occur, estrogen and progesterone levels drop to low levels. The skin becomes more sensitive, prone to inflammatory reactions and drier, with a weakened skin barrier. In addition, due to low hormone levels, blood circulation slows down, giving the skin a sallow complexion. The low estrogen level could explain this phenomenon. The hormone estrogen has a decisive influence on skin quality: it promotes better wound healing, collagen production, skin hydration, improved barrier function and increased skin thickness.
After Menstruation: What Does the Skin Look Like During the Estrogen Phase?
This second phase, called the follicular phase or estrous phase, serves to prepare for ovulation through the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland (a small region at the base of the brain) and induces the growth of numerous follicles (between 3 and 30 follicles). Each follicle contains one egg. As the pre-ovulation phase progresses, FSH levels decrease: at this stage, only one follicle continues to grow and begins producing estrogen. The rest is broken down. When estrogen levels peak, this will trigger the release of the egg (ovulation). The increase in estrogen leads to a sharp increase in another hormone: luteinizing hormone (LH), which is produced by the pituitary gland. It is the hormone that causes the ovary to release a mature egg. In a classic 28-day cycle, ovulation usually occurs around day 14.
What happens to the skin?
Under the influence of estrogens, the skin glows and generally feels good. Estrogens keep the skin supple, elastic, smooth and thick by participating in the natural production of collagen and elastin fibers. At the same time, they provide moisture by stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid, which helps skin cells retain water. Also, estrogen provides a radiant appearance by activating the microcirculation of the blood. In addition, estrogen in high concentrations is thought to prevent stimulation of the sebaceous glands and thus sebum production, although the exact mechanism is still unclear.
Luteal Phase: What Does the Skin Look Like After Ovulation?
The luteal phase is the last phase of the cycle. The ruptured dominant follicle, which was responsible for ovulation, breaks down into the corpus luteum, which secretes an increasing amount of progesterone. At the same time, the levels of FSH and LH decrease. The purpose of this hormone is to increase the mucus of the uterus in preparation for possible implantation of the egg in case of fertilization. In the event of pregnancy, the body then produces the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), which is detected by pregnancy tests. If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum atrophies and hormone levels gradually decrease until the onset of menstruation and the beginning of a new cycle.
What happens to the skin?
During this phase, estrogen levels drop abruptly, while progesterone and androgens (testosterone) rise, causing the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum again. The skin becomes more oily, shiny and shimmery than usual. Pores tend to widen and become clogged, which promotes the development of blackheads. In the days before menstruation, the skin may be prone to acne. In women who have a severe skin rash during menstruation, we can even speak of hormonally induced acne. Note that the more androgens bind to the receptors of the sebaceous glands, the more sebum is produced. One theory is that the low estrogen level is not enough to exert its "anti-sebum" effect, so the androgens act and create a favorable environment for Cutibacterium acnes to develop.
There are many other factors that can influence the oily character of the skin (the amount of sebum secreted), such as genetic predisposition, excessive sun exposure, incorrect use of cosmetics, etc.
KLIGMAN A. M. & al. Rhythm of sebum excretion during the menstrual cycle. Dermatologica (1991).
MAIBACH H. I. & al. Estrogen and skin. An overview. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2001).
MACLEAN A. B. & al. Physiological changes associated with the menstrual cycle : a review. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey (2009).
GOLDENBERG G. & al. Perimenstrual flare of adult acne. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (2014).
YIM J. & al. Higher sweating rate and skin blood flow during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine (2014).
MILLINGTON G. W. & al. The menstrual cycle and the skin. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology (2015).