More Than A Bad Hair Day
For many women, our hair is something we control we cut it, style it and choose how to wear it. It is an expression of ourselves, our personality and our image. If we lose a lot of hair, we may feel less feminine, less in control and it can affect our self-esteem.
The average age of the menopause is around fifty and in the months or years leading up to this, some women notice a change in hair pattern. Very commonly, the volume and condition of the hair appears to worsen, with some women noticing that hair does not grow as much as previously. More hair seems to come out in the basin when washing and hair brushes soon fill up as loose hairs are brushed away. Some women will go on to experience a more profound hair loss, with thinning at the crown of the head, the sides or more general hair thinning all over the head. This is described as Female pattern hair loss . A complete loss of hair, as seen in men who sometimes go bald, is much rarer in women and is usually caused by a medical condition or by medical treatment such as chemotherapy.
How Is Hair Loss In Women Treated What Medicines Or Supplements May Help
Treatment depends on the cause of your hair loss.
- In cases where the loss is due to stress or hormone changes like pregnancy, there might be no treatment needed. The hair loss will stop after a period of time.
- In cases of hair loss being due to hair styling practices, like tight braids or ponytails or certain chemicals, treatment means not doing the things that caused the damage.
- In cases due to nutritional deficiencies, you might be told to take supplements. For instance, you might be told to take a multivitamin and three to five milligrams of biotin daily.
- Minoxidil is approved for treating FPHL. The 2% or 5% solution can be purchased in stores. However, you have to follow directions exactly and use the product indefinitely. Dont use this product if youre pregnant, if you plan to get pregnant, or if youre breastfeeding.
- The HairMax Lasercomb® low light laser is approved by the US FDA to treat FPHL. Another FDA-approved laser product is the Theradome LH80 PRO® helmet and low light laser helmets and caps.
Other medications that have been studied, but not approved, for hair loss in women include:
- Spironolactone and other anti-androgens.
- Other light treatments.
It is important to note that premenopausal women should not take medications for hair loss treatment without using contraception. Many drugs, including minoxidil and finasteride, are not safe for pregnant women or women who want to get pregnant.
How Can I Tell If I Have Female Pattern Hair Loss
Its best to make an appointment to see a dermatologist. Dermatologists are the experts in diagnosing and treating hair loss. A dermatologist can tell you whether its FPHR or something else that is causing your hair loss. Other causes of hair loss can look like FPHL, so its important to rule out these causes.
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Is Menopause Associated With Hair Loss
Menopause is when a female’s period has stopped for at least one full year. However, in the several years before the onset of menopause, also known as the perimenopausal transition, a female’s hormone levels begin to slowly decrease.”Many will start to experience some mild hot flashes or night sweats at her period, when hormones are at their lowest,” says Williams. “Literally, the ovaries just begin to peter out and no longer produce estrogen.”
As the ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone, start to fluctuate during perimenopause, some women can experience hair loss: “While we do not know the exact mechanism of action of the hair loss, we do know that in menopause experience a progressive reduction in the density of terminal hairs,” says Williams. “We believe this is probably hormonal, because during pregnancy when hormones are elevated, many women experience an increase in hair growth which diminishes after birth.”
What Can You Do
The first thing you have to do is schedule a meeting with your doctor to rule out any medical issues that might be causing or worsening the hair loss. A doctor can also evaluate if you are shedding more than whats normal and if you’re dealing, in fact, with alopecia. Also, s/he can determine if any of the medication youre taking is whats triggering the hair loss and potentially adjust your treatment.
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How To Reverse Thinning Hair After Menopause
There are a few options if youre looking for ways to deal with thinning hair during menopause.
Some solutions are more natural and involve making lifestyle changes, while others include tweaks to medication. Its up to you which approach feels right for you.
If you need some advice, why not make an appointment with your doctor? Or give some of these approaches a shot:
How To Stop Hair Loss During Menopause
Follow these tips to stop hair loss or keep your hair strong during menopause.
- Consult your doctor first.
- Its important to keep your stress levels in check to prevent a hormonal imbalance. Exercising regularly and doing yoga and meditation can reduce stress.
- Eating a balanced diet is your best defense against hair loss if your hair loss happens because of vitamin deficiencies. Consider a diet that includes whole grain, fruits, vegetables, and monosaturated oils. Green tear, folic acid, and vitamin B6 supplements are also important.
- Consider a hair supplement specifically for menopause such as Nutrafol.
- Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and avoid consuming too much sugar.
- Avoid using tools that heat your hair, like dryers, straighteners, extensions, hair dyes, etc. Keep the hair natural to maintain most of its health and strength.
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What Is The Relationship Between Hair Loss In Women And Menopause
During menopause, you might see one of two things happen with your hair. You might start growing hair where you didnt before. Or, you might see the hair you have start to thin. One cause may be changing levels of hormones during menopause. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, meaning that the effects of the androgens, male hormones, are increased.
During and after menopause, hair might become finer because hair follicles shrink. Hair grows more slowly and falls out more easily in these cases.
Your healthcare provider will do a thorough examination and take a detailed history to help you deal with changes in hair growth. You may be directed to have your iron levels or thyroid hormone levels tested. Your medications might be changed if what you take is found to affect hair loss or growth.
What Are The Causes Of Hair Loss During Menopause
While hair loss can happen at any age, menopause is a major trigger. Factors such as age, diet, genetics, ethnicity, and lifestyle influence the changes we go through at menopause as well.
- Genetics is a major factor and it can play a role in both male and female hair loss.
- A stressful lifestyle or a stressful event can enhance the odds of losing hair at menopause.
- Your diet can positively or negatively impact hair loss at menopause.
- Illnesses such as thyroid afflictions and anemia can also trigger hair loss at menopause.
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Lifestyle And Home Remedies For Thinning Hair
If you feel self-conscious about thinning hair, there are options beyond treatments and procedures that may make hair loss less noticeable, says Bruce.
- Wear a wig, extension, or hairpiece. Some women find this to be a suitable option.
- Style your hair differently. This can make a widening part less noticeable.
- Try hair powders. These contain tiny fibers you sprinkle the powder in your hair and the fibers cling to the hair shaft, giving the appearance of fuller hair and hiding where the scalp is visible.
- Consult a hair stylist. Some stylists specialize in thinning hair.
Menopause And Hair Loss
If Rapunzel was in perimenopause, she wouldnt have enough hair to make a climbing rope for the Prince.
One of the less talked about aspects of menopause is the shock of hair loss and hair thinning ugh.
Ive been through it, and tried out ways to reduce the loss, so keep reading if this is you.
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Why Does Menopause Cause Hair Loss
Although most people wouldnt automatically think of hair loss as a menopause symptom, the hormonal changes which the menopause causes can have all sorts of unexpected effects on the body.
The hormones oestrogen and testosterone have the most important influence on hair growth. During the menopause, levels of oestrogen decrease. This hormone is important for promoting hair growth. While oestrogen levels drop, testosterone levels increase disproportionately. This causes the hair that does grow to be thinner than before, and can also cause facial hair.
However, there are other causes of hair loss. These include factors as simple as what you eat to more serious issues such as stress, certain illnesses and medication. It is important to get to the root of the problem in order to find the most effective treatment.
How Estrogen Affects Hair And Skin
If youre seeing changes in your hair and skin post-menopause, you can usually blame rapidly declining levels of the hormone estrogen.
Estrogen promotes water retention and plumpness in the skin, Dr. Williams says. When estrogen drops, you lose some of the molecules that help keep the skin moisturized. Estrogen also contributes to hair growth and fullness. Without it, your hair may become thinner.
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What Causes Menopause Hair Loss Or Thinning
While there are several reasons your hair might thin during this time, the most common cause is the hormonal imbalance your body is experiencing.
During menopause, you start to produce lower levels of estrogen and progesterone, you see, hormones that help your hair grow faster and not fall out.
But as these hormone levels drop, your hair grows more slowly and gradually starts to thin.
There are other hormones involved, too.
The drop in estrogen and progesterone prompts a rise in androgens.
Androgens are hormones that are often associated with men, but womens bodies produce a small amount, too.
Androgens can cause your hair follicles to shrink. This makes it harder for your hair to stay in place and so it falls out.
As well as losing their hair, some women notice hair growing in new places, especially the face.
The fine layer of fuzzy hair or the odd spout of hair on the chain can be caused by an increase in androgens, too.
Before we get into all the detail about menopause and hair loss, lets answer some of your most important questions straight away:
Why Do Women Lose Hair During Menopause
Thinning hair and hair loss is another taboo subject for many menopausal women.
Dr. Alan J. Bauman, a board certified physician who specializes in hair restoration at his practice in Boca Raton, Florida, told Healthline that about 100 million women in the United States have thinning hair.
Most women who come in to seek treatment for hair thinning do so around the time of perimenopause and menopause. The vast majority of hair loss is genetic its female pattern hair loss, he said.
Hair loss occurs gradually, but most women dont notice it until it reaches a certain point, meaning that they lose coverage in a particular area, or that their hairline has changed dramatically. When women do notice, it seems like their hair has thinned overnight.
You can lose 50 percent of your hair volume in a particular area before it starts looking noticeably thin, said Bauman.
There are very specific hormones regulating hair follicle growth cycles. When women are pregnant, more of the hair follicles are in a growing phase than normal. Womens hair grows thicker and more lustrous. After childbirth, their hormones return to normal, and the hair follicles shift back into a resting phase. Six to 12 weeks after they give birth they experience hair shedding.
A patient at Dr. Baumans clinic before and after treatment for hair loss. Photo courtesy of Bauman Medical Group.
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Counselling And Support Groups
Losing your hair can be hard to cope with many of us think of our hair as part of our identity.
If menopause hair loss or thinning is causing you distress, your doctor may be able to offer advice about counselling. You might also find it useful to join a support group, or share your story on online forums.
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Perimenopause And Hair Loss
And then theres the hair question.
Perimenopause is not, in specific terms, a condition that can cause hair loss. Its not a stated symptom of the condition.
But, that being said, theres some bad news.
Hormonal changes have been shown in some cases to exacerbate conditions like female pattern alopecia, also known as androgenic alopecia.
The condition can worsen during perimenopause, especially if its effects were already showing before the onset of perimenopause.
The hormones that typically cause female pattern hair loss are called androgens, but interestingly enough, not all women show an increase in circulating androgen levels.
This suggests that a more complicated mechanism may be involved.
What we do know is that perimenopause can cause a decrease in the duration of the anagen phase of hair growth one of hairs three life cycle phases.
Typically 90 percent of your hair should be in the anagen phase at one time, but when this number is reduced, so is your hair count.
Because estrogen is thought to influence hair growth, its believed that the reduction in ovarian estrogen levels may be the cause of androgenic alopecia in women.
Menopause And Hair Loss: Whats The Connection
When entering the years of menopausal transition, it is a good idea to check the bodys hormone levels. This can help explain symptoms such as hair loss.
When a person experiences hair loss and other symptoms of menopause, it is predominantly due to hormonal changes. With age, the ovaries begin to decrease the amount of sex hormones that are normally produced. As the body responds to the fluctuations in hormones, numerous physical changes occur. Menopausal hair loss is directly related to the decreased production of estrogen and progesterone.
As these hormone levels drop, hair may begin to grow more slowly and become thinner. Over time, the decrease in estrogen and progesterone causes an increase in the activity of male hormones that the body makes. Androgens cause the hair follicles on the head to shrink, which leads to hair loss. These are the same hormones that are responsible for increased facial hair growth in menopausal people.
Among other factors that contribute to hair loss are lack of nutrients, stress, and illness. A health care provider may suggest tests for basic blood count, thyroid function, or hormone levels to identify the cause of hair loss.
Androgenic Alopecia In Women
This is probably a good time to explain the basics of androgenic alopecia, also commonly referred to as male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss.
There are key differences between how men and women experience it. Typically, women will see thinning across the whole of their head, rather than in certain locations like men. That means no receding hairline or bald spot on the crown.
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Hair Transplantation May Be An Option For Some Women With Hair Loss
Women who are more distressed by their hair loss or have more significant hair loss may consider hair transplantation, says Bruce. This is an expensive and somewhat invasive procedure. Youre taking hair from a donor site, typically at the back of the scalp, and then redistributing those hair follicles to areas where the hair is thinner, she says.
How Long Does The Menopausal Hair Loss Period Last
Menopause hair loss happens more slowly as compared to other conditions. It is a huge shift where you may experience a massive shed.
During menopause, it is a gradual decrease in either the ratio of hormones or the level of hormones in the body. The menopausal hair loss period may continue as long as the body cant fully adjust to the hormonal fluctuations.
The duration of menopause doesnt have a set time period, and the period and condition vary. It is a temporary condition and depends on how the individual body is working with menopause.
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Low Hormone Levels And Thinning Hair In Menopause
Remember I said supplements can help your hair grow faster – BUT ONLY if it’s growing in the first place? And that your underlying hormonal support for healthy hair was the most important factor in hair growth?
What it means:
- Keeping your hormone levels high enough and balanced with each other is KEY for turning on hair growth. Once you have that in place the supplements, sleep, and essential oils will help it grow faster. Without that hormonal hair growth switch turned ON – none of those will make a significant difference.
A doctor explains:
Hormonal fluctuations are responsible for hair loss during perimenopause and menopause. Estrogen and progesterone keep the hair in the growing phase, making it grow faster and stay on the head longer. When estrogen and progesterone levels decline, hair growth slows and hair loss becomes more pronounced. Dr Anna Garrett
So… How do you keep your hormone levels high enough AND in balance with each other