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The “other” menopause and what it means for your skin and hair.

Every woman knows that if she lives long enough, menopause will happen. We’ve seen it happen in our grandmothers, mothers, friends and eventually it will happen to us. Ovaries will naturally decrease their production of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, and the decline will affect the whole body. We know what to expect: not fun effects, but tolerable with some adjustments and some help from the MD. This is normal and to be expected unless you decide to go for hormone replacement therapy, in which you take extra estrogen and progesterone, oral and/or in patches.

Many women will have to face a different kind of menopause: induced menopause. This menopause will be sudden, with unpleasant symptoms, within an already very stressful situation. This happens when a woman overall health requires suppression of estrogen, like when she diagnosed with a type breast cancer that responds to estrogen.  The interesting thing is that, as unpleasant as it can be, a tumor that responds to estrogen (and has other special characteristics) may be “good news”. Why? Because there are medicines that can suppress estrogen synthesis and, when estrogen is decreased to almost nothing, the tumor may not only stop growing but it is also likely to shrink. Shrinking will make the tumor more manageable, perhaps requiring minor surgery (lumpectomy) rather than a larger one (mastectomy). Survival statistics are also better.

Estrogen suppression may have to be continued for 5 to 10 years, so several of the symptoms will be here to stay.

How is this chemical/medical menopause different from the one we can all expect to get through when we reach our fifties?

1) It can happen very early because some women may get breast cancer early in life.

2) It will be sudden. After the biopsy  that characterizes the tumor, the medication that suppresses estrogen synthesis is started the same day. No time should be wasted.

3) It will be “absolute”. Women going through menopause still produce some estrogen, especially in fat tissue, and this will diminish slowly. Not with estrogen suppression, in which the target of suppression is all estrogen synthesis.

4) You can’t use hormone replacement or even phytoestrogens: the idea is to starve the cancer cells of every chemical capable of binding to the estrogen receptors.

What can you do to make things better?

The side effects may include tiredness, depression, headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, dry mouth, dry eyes and lots more.

Your doctor will probably advise you against phytoestrogens: if a phytoestrogen helps with symptoms, it is because it binds to estrogen receptors. These receptors are also  on the surface of the cancer cells.  If you can’t use phytoestrogens, then what?

You can’t use phytoestrogens but there is a lot of other things you can do.

Remember that the main job of your doctor is to limit the damage done by the cancer. For other “stuff”, you will have to take care of yourself.  Melatonin may help with sleep, and layering covers will help with night sweats. Exercise and massage will help with muscle and joints. Talk to your dentist about your teeth, because the drop in saliva production will slow down enamel renewal. Eye drops will help with dry eyes. Counseling and even antidepressants may be options.

Why do I address this subject in a blog dedicated to skin and hair care?  Because there is a lot you can do for your skin and hair, and your doctor won’t mind if you do. On the contrary, your skin and hair are important and supporting their health will help you feel strong and ready to deal with other health problems.

What can you do for your skin and hair?

A lot, and Skin Actives can help you Our products can help you take care of your skin, hair, nails, eyebrows, eyelashes.

When you start estrogen suppression, skin and scalp will show almost immediately. Hair will fall off and thin out. You will notice wrinkles, thin and dry skin, etc.

The more we learn about the effect of estrogen on skin and hair and the mechanism of aging, the more we can do about keeping them healthy and strong, even if we have to keep away from chemicals that can bind to estrogen receptors. How?  Let’s look at how estrogen does its magic (it feels like magic!), bypass the estrogen receptors and go to the secondary mechanisms of action. For  example, a big part of what estrogen does for our bodies has to do with antioxidants, and we know a lot about antioxidants.

Another thing that estrogen does is influence the macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). We can “replace” that effect using ellagic acid and apigenin, two beneficial plant chemicals that have been known to have anti-aging effect on the skin for a long time.

Protect and preserve the macromolecules in your skin with antioxidant proteins:  ROS BioNet (Superoxide Dismutase, glutaredoxin, thioredoxin), glutathione

SAS products that can support your skin, scalp and more

Skin (not just your face, remember the rest of your body): Every lipid serumVitamin A creamUltimate moisturizing cream.

Hair: hair care serum, every lipid serum

Eyelashes, eyebrows: serum

Nails: nail and cuticle oil, nail serum


Suggestions, questions?  Please write to me at Hannah


Cui, J., Shen, Y., & Li, R. (2013). Estrogen synthesis and signaling pathways during aging: from periphery to brain. Trends in Molecular Medicine, 19(3), 197–209. doi:10.1016/j.molmed.2012.12.007

Vargas, K. G., Milic, J., Zaciragic, A., Wen, K., Jaspers, L., Nano, J., … Franco, O. H. (2016). The functions of estrogen receptor beta in the female brain: A systematic review. Maturitas, 93, 41–57. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.05.014

Schweikert HU, Milewich L, Wilson JD1975 Aromatization of androstenedione by isolated human hairs. J Clin Endocrinol Metab40:413–417

Human hair follicles aromatize androgens to estrogens. Schweikertet al. 1975

Schweikert HU, Milewich L, Wilson JD1975 Aromatization of androstenedione by isolated human hairs. J Clin Endocrinol Metab40:413–417



DISCLAIMER: These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.