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Questions from The 1/6/23 Mandurah Menopause Talk- Menopause itch

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Itching in menopause

During menopause, women experience hormonal changes that can affect the skin and lead to itching. The main cause of itching skin during menopause is the decline in estrogen levels. Estrogen plays a vital role in maintaining the health and moisture of the skin.
Here are some specific factors that contribute to itching skin during menopause:

#1 Dry skin:
Estrogen helps in maintaining the production of natural oils in the skin that keeps it moisturized. As estrogen levels decrease, the skin becomes drier, leading to itchiness.
#2 Decreased collagen production:
Estrogen is also involved in stimulating collagen production, which provides structure and elasticity to the skin. The skin may become thinner and more prone to dryness and irritation with reduced estrogen.
#3 Decreased blood flow:
Hormonal changes during menopause can affect blood circulation, reducing blood flow to the skin. Inadequate blood supply can cause dryness and itching.
#4 Skin conditions:
Menopause can exacerbate pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, causing increased itching and discomfort.
#5 Stress:
Menopause often comes with significant emotional and psychological changes. Stress and anxiety can trigger or worsen itching in some individuals.

Please note itching can also be caused by other factors unrelated to menopause, such as allergies, irritants, or underlying medical conditions. If the itching is persistent, severe, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Hormone replacement therapy (prescribed estrogen) is an excellent treatment for the menopause itch.
Estrogen helps stimulate collagen and blood flow to the skin. If you are taking collagen capsules, you are wasting your money. It's important to note that the effectiveness of orally ingested collagen supplements is a subject of ongoing research and debate. While it is reported that collagen supplements have some potential benefits for skin health and joint function, the ability of orally consumed collagen to directly increase collagen levels in specific target tissues is still a topic of investigation. Additionally, the effectiveness of collagen absorption may vary depending on the specific formulation, dosage, and individual variations in digestive processes. In the stomach, collagen is broken by hydrochloric acid and enzymes. Any fragments from the breakdown make their way to the small intestine where they are absorbed. It is anyone's guess what amount of your expensive collagen capsules make it intact into your cells. Truthfully, it is a waste of money. These supplements are expensive. On the other hand, HRT is reasonably cheap and affordable.

Generally speaking, it's worth knowing that health supplements and many easily accessible remedies are not licensed or regulated. Some formulations may have more or less of the product. This means that you may suffer adverse effects or not have any positive effects at all from the products you are using. Do not forget the placebo effect. The placebo effect refers to the phenomenon in which a person experiences a perceived improvement in their symptoms or condition after receiving an inactive treatment or intervention that is believed to be an active treatment. In other words, it is the positive response or subjective improvement that occurs due to the person's belief in the treatment, rather than the actual properties of the treatment itself.

I'm not discounting your traditional herbs and portions that have worked for your family over generations. However, be aware that there have been reports of liver damage or even death by many traditional portions. Sometimes the culprit is the inadvertent high doses of the active ingredients or contamination with other products. There are often no double-blinded controlled studies for most of these products.

More Q&A for the Mandurah menopause talk to come, Keep a look out for an answer to your question!

Dr Purity Carr is a GP and Menopause Doctor in Harvey, Western Australia

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