Soft & Brittle Nails

Beautiful nails

Your nails, or more specifically, fingernails.

Have you noticed – along with your hair – they’ve become less robust and brittle?

Fingernails that have always been strong and sturdy are likely to weaken and slow down their growth during the meno years. It’s one of the signs.

But, wait! Before you groan I have good news too 😀. First off though, let’s go through the whys and wherefores so you can understand what’s happening.

Why Are My Nails Becoming Brittle?

The changing hormones of the menopause years are the culprits here. Once you enter perimenopause around 40-45 (sometimes in your 30s) your menstrual cycle and hormones begin to fluctuate.

This is a sign of your estrogen levels lessening and your ovarian function slowing down. The ovaries are the main estrogen factory in our body, although estrogen also impacts our brain, skin, bones, liver and heart.

Lower estrogen levels can also bring on menopausal signs like abnormal body temperature, difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, mood swings, loss of libido and weight gain. Find out the 34 most common signs here.

What Nail Changes Can I Expect?

Estrogen is also an important player in the health of our nails.

Less of it leads to:

  • Soft nails
  • Brittle nails
  • Peeling nails
  • Splitting nails
  • Slow growth rate

What Can You Do?

Lots actually. That’s my good news! 😁 

Did you know? That a lot of the ladies who use 40+ and 55+ report stronger, thicker, longer hair and nails? Get yours here.

1. Drink more water

water

One of the functions of estrogen is to regulate water levels in the body. Keeping hydrated is smart as dehydration contributes to brittle nails. Keep a water bottle or water jug handy. Not a water fan? Infuse it with lemon juice or fruit, berries or mint leaves.

2. Eat A Nutrient Dense Diet

nutritious food

Aside from pregnancy, there is no more important time than the meno years for a woman to ensure she’s well nourished. Every day calls for good nutrition of course, but our midlife bodies are experiencing a lot and optimum nutrients help us manage it much better – both outwardly and inwardly.

Eat the rainbow, limit processed foods (they’re difficult for us to process), limit sugar, embrace whole grains, fruits, vegetables and water. Filling up on high water content foods like cucumber, lettuce, watermelon – anything juicy – helps with hydration too.

3. De-Stress

animals relaxing

Having a tough time with perimenopause it can be stressful in itself, but add in things like relationship problems, work issues, difficult kids, ageing parents, financial difficulties and it can lead to a big stress bomb on your shoulders.

If this happens your nails will suffer. You may respond with a nervous habit – as so many people do – by biting or rubbing your nails, which, over time, may alter the nail plate or cause a weakening ridge.

Biologically stress increases our levels of the hormone cortisol, which impacts the skin’s barrier function negatively resulting in water loss.

4. Take A Probiotic

You need a healthy digestion to ensure your stomach acid plays its role well and your body is able to absorb and use all of the nutrients you feed it. Enough said.

5. Olive oil

I’ve always found soaking the nails in warm olive oil for 10 minutes conditions and strengthens them beautifully.

6. Hand cream

hand cream

Keep a hand cream close by at all times and rub it in whenever you think of it. I love Weleda’s Sea Buckthorn. Just saying. 😀

7. Wear Gloves

nails-gardening-gloves

Doing household chores or gardening? Protect your nails with gloves. It’s a no-brainer really.

8. Don’t smoke

cigarette

If you smoke know that studies have shown that smoking can exacerbate brittle nails.

9. Get A Bone Density Scan

bone-density-scan

One of the signs of osteoporosis is brittle nails and if you are post-menopausal it would pay to check where you stand.

Related: How to have great skin after 40.

Related: 3 ways to improve hair loss/thinning naturally.

Related: Three signs that point you being in perimenopause.

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.