In perhaps depressing news for us midsters, a recent study from the University of Vienna has shown that women physically age faster than men due to the menopause.
The research mapped 600 different parts of the face in men and women between 26 and 90. Although the features of ageing were largely the same in men and women, after 50 it speeds up for women when fine lines and wrinkles start to appear. There were other noticeable ways that ageing sped up including:
- Sagging of the brow
- Eyelid drooping
- Ears increasing in size by 0.22m a year
- Eye bags
- Fold between nose and mouth deepening
- Face flattening due to fat loss
Tip of the nose drooping
- Thinning of the upper lip
- Loss of bone from the chin.
In general, women’s faces age twice as fast as men, and between 50 and 60 this goes up to even 3 times as fast!
“Men and women age similarly up to the age of 50. It’s a linear progression. But at the age of 50, for women, it goes really fast. It doesn’t speed up at 50 for men. After the age of 50, the best predictor of how old you look is your age from menopause. The onset of menopause varies in women quite a lot”
Sonja Windhager, Head Researcher
Ageing and The Menopause
This ageing process coincides with the average age that menopause starts. The drop in oestrogen during the menopause affects collagen production which gives skin its elasticity so the ageing process speeds up. Menopause also causes bone to be re-absorbed, resulting in less defined cheekbones and a shrinking of the chin.
30% of the skin’s collagen is lost in the first five menopausal years. None of the women, however, were taking hormone replacement therapy, so this could be a way to slow down some of the ageing acceleration.
The good news is that it does plateau after 60 when men catch up with us!
Learning To Accept The Ageing Process
This is hardly welcome news for women. We’ve lived with the idea that men look distinguished when they start to age and have grey hairs peeking through whereas us ladies aren’t. Mow, we can’t ignore the biology of the fact that we do age faster!
However, it is a reminder that ageing is inevitable and how important it is to love yourself whatever your age. Instead of focusing on the negatives of ageing, think about all the things you gain – better relationships, better perspectives on life, a better sense of who you are, seeing our kids grow up, having grandkids. We must remember that growing old is a privilege that not everyone is lucky enough to have.
So we can look after ourselves, look after what we eat, not spend too much time in the sun, exercise and try to stay away from stress – all these things are proven to slow signs of ageing. But the most important thing is embracing every stage of life and slowly learning to look at the positives over the negatives.