How Collagen Supports Women Through Menopause? 4 Things to Know

Last updated 02.26.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 10 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Have you wondered what makes your skin look supple, smooth, full, and elastic? Or, how does your hair remain so soft, strong, and shiny? It’s the protein collagen in your skin and the connective tissues, bones, tendons, and cartilage. Collagen has umpteen functions besides maintaining healthy skin. It helps strengthen your bones and muscles, maintains your hair health, and so on.

If we were to discuss by gender, males undergo collagen loss consistently throughout their lives. However, for women, it is a different thing altogether. Their skin is affected more in later life, specifically after menopause. A doctor once told me that after menopause, a woman’s skin thins faster than their male counterparts due to hormonal imbalances.

Studies show a woman’s skin loses around 30% of collagen in five years after menopause. The collagen loss is steady after that, at 2% yearly, continuing for around 20 years.

A woman at the doctor’s office once said her skin seemed dry and thin with age, while her hair never fell. The doctor mentioned that was due to the lessened supply of collagen. She was advised to have a healthy diet and proper skincare.

Are you in your late 40s? Do you find your skin losing elasticity and fullness compared to before? Then, you must know about collagen and its impact on your skin and other body parts. That’s what I have covered in the article. I will discuss collagen’s impact on menopause and how to boost collagen. Let’s get started.

What Happens to Collagen In Menopause?

A steep decline in estrogen levels marks the menopause transition and menopause phase. This results in several symptoms, and collagen loss is one of them. Estrogen influences the skin, helping to maintain thickness. The hormone also significantly supports collagen production by binding the fibroblasts responsible for collagen production.

Now, a reduction in estrogen levels results in a decline in collagen production. Low collagen levels increase dryness and decreased elasticity, accounting for sagginess and wrinkle formation. It also makes your hair lose elasticity, causing hair breakage and split ends.

Your estrogen levels won’t be the same in your 40s as in your 20s and 30s. The younger you are, the higher your estrogen levels will be. They appear the highest in your mid and late 20s. The same goes for collagen. It’s the highest when a woman is in her 20s and 30s, after which there’s a gradual decline.

The Effect of Low Estrogen On Your Skin

As mentioned, increased estrogen levels help boost your skin’s collagen production. When the numbers decrease, it results in several problems. Let’s discuss a few of them:

Decreased Elasticity

When there’s a decline in the elastin and collagen levels, your skin loses firmness and strength, becoming less elastic. When there is lessened tightness, your skin becomes less firm and wrinkled.

Dried Skin

Estrogen is functional in helping your skin to retain its moisture content. This hormone increases the hyaluronic acid and mucopolysaccharides, preventing your skin from drying. The reduced estrogen levels hamper the moistness of the skin, causing it to become dry eventually.

Thin Skin

The reduced estrogen and collagen levels lessen the elasticity and thickness of the skin. As you age, the collagen content of your skin weakens, lessening its ability to remain thick and full. Skin becomes more susceptible to cuts, bruises, and injury when thin.

Other Effects of Low Collagen

When we mention collagen, our skin health is the first thing that mostly comes to mind. However, collagen deficiency also has other effects.

  • It may result in thin, dry hair and increased hair loss.
  • Lessened collagen even leads to stiffened joints and brittle bones.
  • When your collagen levels are low, it negatively impacts the digestive system, making you susceptible to bloating and indigestion.

Ways to Know that Your Collagen Levels Are Dipping

Ways to Know that Your Collagen Levels Are Dipping

In this section, I will continue from where I left above, talking about the numerous benefits of collagen other than skin nourishment. In an online discussion, a healthcare provider once said that dry or saggy skin isn’t the only indication that your collagen levels are low. There are other signs as well. Collagen affects different parts of your body.

Type 1 collagen comprises 90% of the body’s collagen content and helps to maintain the skin, ligaments, joints, and bones. Type II collagen is responsible for joint support. Type III collagen exists in the organs, arteries, and muscles.

Type IV collagen occurs within your skin’s layers, while Type V collagen is found in the skin layers, cornea, hair, and placental tissues. So, it’s evident that low collagen levels won’t affect your skin but other body parts.

Here is a quick recap of some red flags that indicate that you have low collagen levels. Check them out:

  • Saggy and wrinkled skin
  • Hallowing appearance surrounding your face and eyes
  • Aching and weakened muscles
  • Joint pain
  • Lessened mobility due to stiffened and damaged joints
  • Gastrointestinal issues since the digestive tract’s lining becomes thinner
  • Blood flow issues
  • Collagen helps to keep your blood vessels flexible and strong. Low collagen levels may affect your blood flow.

How Does Collagen Help In Menopause?

Collagen declines in menopause due to low estrogen levels. However, you will benefit immensely if you consciously attempt to increase collagen levels by maintaining a proper diet and lifestyle. Here are some ways in which collagen may benefit during menopause.

Prevents Your Skin From Aging

We know by now that lessened collagen levels make your skin thin, wrinkled, and dry. It’s pretty common in menopausal women. I also had my share of wrinkles until I took my skincare regime seriously. So, when you ensure that your collagen intake is maintained through your diet or supplements (if needed), your skin will appear moistened and plump. Those lines and wrinkles will also disappear eventually.

Strengthens Your Hair

I already gave an elaborate account of the negative impact of low collagen on your hair. Hair loss in menopause occurs due to hormonal imbalances. If you are thinking about how collagen will help your hair, there’s a connection. About 70% of the dermis, one of the skin’s inner layers, has around 70% collagen. Hair follicles are a part of the dermis.

As collagen helps to maintain the dermis’ elasticity and strength, it prevents your hair from getting thin and falling. Collagen also slows the hair-growing process thanks to its antioxidant properties, which enable it to fight free radical damage. All these facts are the results of several studies conducted on the impact of collagen on hair health. However, more research is needed for further validation.

Lessens Joint Pain and Combats Bone Loss

Another significant function of collagen that you may need to learn is its role in bone formation. Low collagen levels often reduce bone density, making you prone to osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions. Studies show collagen supplements help increase bone density and account for bone formation, reducing chances of bone loss.

For Digestive Health

Collagen helps to boost your gut health. It has been found that collagen supplements play a significant role in maintaining the intestinal wall’s health and lessening digestive problems like gas and bloating. The amino acids in collagen possess anti-inflammatory properties, pivotal in lessening gut inflammation. When your body gets a good supply of collagen, you will be less susceptible to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).

How Do You Boost Your Body’s Collagen content?

How Do You Boost Your Body's Collagen content?

Collagen helps your body in many ways.; In menopause, when their levels drop, the onus lies on you to keep your collagen levels under control either naturally or artificially through supplements (if needed).

Take Care Of Your Diet

Following a healthy diet with all the essential nutrients can naturally boost your body’s collagen content. Vitamin C is beneficial in raising collagen. The foods rich in this vitamin include oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, broccoli, strawberries, green or red peppers, etc.

Chicken, fish bones, and egg whites are also excellent sources of collagen. Regarding chicken, the boneless variety isn’t as effective as the boned variety, which has greater collagen content. Antioxidants are vital in enhancing your body’s collagen production. So, you must take care to include antioxidant-rich foods in your diet. Here are some antioxidant-rich foods:

  • Blueberries
  • Beans
  • Artichokes
  • Cranberries
  • Leafy greens
  • Black beans
  • Sweet cherries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches
  • Guavas
  • Oranges
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes
  • Mangoes

Keep Yourself Hydrated

When you keep yourself hydrated by maintaining your daily fluid intake, it doesn’t just help boost collagen production but also aids in replenishing your overall health. Collagen’s impact on your skin isn’t unknown. Studies reveal that dehydration increases the risk of skin inelasticity and damage.

Drinking sufficient water and other healthy fluids helps your skin remain plump and full, lessening wrinkles and saginess.

Collagen doesn’t just help with your skin health. It maintains healthy hair, strong bones, and a sound digestive system. In my mid-40s, my healthcare provider advised me to drink at least two liters of water a day.

At the same time, you must limit your caffeine intake and avoid carbonated beverages. They are likely to impact the collagen in your skin and joints negatively.

Take Supplements (If You Need)

Collagen supplements have several benefits: they help maintain your skin’s elasticity, strengthen bones, reduce wrinkles, and thicken hair. Researchers have found that collagen supplements are effective in lessening the risks of heart disease.

Collagen supplements are available in powders and pills. However, you should choose judiciously when selecting the right supplements. Otherwise, it could trigger several side effects. You should seek a healthcare provider’s advice to choose the appropriate supplement.

FAQs

What are the side effects of having collagen?

Collagen supplements may have several side effects, especially those made from eggs, shellfish, and fish, known as common allergens. If you are allergic to these foods, you must avoid them. Some common side effects people on collagen supplements report include nausea, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, insomnia, and rashes.

Who shouldn’t take collagen?

Collagen supplements won’t be safe for those allergic to shellfish, fish, or eggs. People on a kosher, halal, vegan, or vegetarian diet should also avoid collagen supplements.

Which collagen is better, marine collagen or bovine collagen?

As the names say, marine collagen has fish as its main ingredient, while bovine collagen is prepared from cattle products. Marine collage has a lower protein density than the bovine variety. Another difference is that bovine collagen possesses more type 2 collagen than the marine variants.

Can hormone replacement therapy help to raise collagen?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has significantly contributed to improving several symptoms of menopause. Regarding boosting dermal collagen, HRT has shown positive effects through several studies.

HRT also effectively reduces skin thinness, wrinkles, and inelasticity. If you wish to opt for HRT to boost your collagen levels, you may consult a medical expert who may guide you best.

Conclusion

I hope this article helps you understand how beneficial collagen is, especially when you are in menopause. The hormonal imbalances contribute to a low collagen content. When collagen is low, it affects your skin, hair, gut health, bones, etc. In menopause, your immune system is compromised due to the fluctuating hormones. When you work towards maintaining healthy collagen, you can stay fit in menopause to a greater extent.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.

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