Hair loss in women can feel like a nightmare. Patchy, thinning hair can make you look and feel older than you deserve and be a body blow to your self esteem.
You may have guessed that the hormone changes associated with the menopause can be a key factor – but would you have known that it’s the male hormone testosterone that’s to blame?
Specialists divide the causes of female hair loss into traumatic sudden hair loss and non traumatic – which includes just about everything else.
The most accepted cause of non traumatic hair loss in women (the most common sort) is an androgen called DHT or dihydrotestosterone. DHT is formed in the hair follicle from the male hormone testosterone which women possess as well as men. For most of our lives estrogen floods our bodies and acts as a blocker to testosterone halting the production of excess levels of DHT.
After the menopause things change and the change is very sudden. There is a rapid decline in estrogen levels causing DHT levels to rise and this is when age related hormonal hair loss can be at its worst.
Hair loss of course is a daily occurrence all through life – we are all born with around 10,000 hair follicles and we keep these till we die. Hairs are shed as part of a normal hair growth cycle which is essential for healthy hair.
The result of more DHT in the hair follicle after the menopause is a shorter hair growth cycle which can lead to finer hair and eventually general “effluvium” or hair loss resulting in thinning hair or patchy hair loss.
Women with ‘androgenetic alopecia’ – or female pattern hair loss – lose hair in a different way than men. In women, the hair becomes thinner all over the head but the hairline does not recede. Androgenetic alopecia in women rarely leads to total baldness as it often does for men.
Genetics plays a significant part in androgenetic alopecia – if your mother had the condition you are more likely to develop it.
But what about diffuse hair loss if there is no genetic link? If you experience general thinning all over your head it could be there are other triggers. Anti aging hair care is often more successful in dealing with this type of problem since the causes can be identified and a remedy found in many cases.
If you have certain medical conditions then your hair may well suffer as a result and this can result in an overall loss or thinning of your hair. Some of the medical conditions that can cause this reaction in women include: thyroid disease, Lupus and anemia.
Check your intake of medications as well – if you take any kind of regular medication then it could be that this is contributing or causing your hair loss problems. Bear in mind that you may be taking medication for some months before any hair loss is noticed and then you may start to shed hair a an alarming rate. Some of the most common drugs to cause diffuse (all over) hair loss in women include:
- blood thinners like warfarin and heparin
- medication for seizures – especially dilantin
- anti inflammatories like predisone
- cholesterol lowering drugs
- b-blockers and drugs for blood pressure
- common anti depressants like prozac
These aren’t the only drugs that can cause hair to thin and fall out over time – so check with your doctor if this is a possible cause. The good thing to hang on to here if you are affected is that this kind of shedding of hair is temporary – once the medication is stopped the loss of hair will stop and your hair will return to its normal healthy state.
Another contributor is poor nutrition – a high fat, high calorie diet, low protein intake or not getting enough essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6). Any non genetic hair loss that arises is made so much worse if you haven’t been getting the food you need for healthy hair.
Hair loss in women can be very sudden and obvious or it can creep up gradually – so how do you know when you have to take action?
A normal hair loss cycle will shed around 100 hairs in a day – it sounds a lot but you probably don’t notice this happening. If you find unusual amounts of hair suddenly clogging up the bath or the shower or if you start finding a lot of hairs on your pillow in the morning – you may suspect something is not right. Take a look at your head near a window, outside or under bright light. Can you see your scalp shining through – does your hair loook much thinner than it used to all over your head?
Losing too much hair is one way the body has of telling us that all is not well – but its effect on you as a woman is likely to be much worse. Shiny, flowing hair is so much part of the traditional image of female beauty that for women losing it can feel totally devastating.
Unlike men, whose lack of hair may be mocked but accepted as a fact of life – hair loss in women is less understood and less well tolerated. For most women how our hair is looking and behaving on any given day will determine how good we feel about ourselves. Bad hair days are the cause of much misery because hair is so important to the way we look – and we know it.
It’s also unfortunately true that society doesn’t deal with hair loss in women very well. There may be unsympathetic and curious reactions from other people – especially with total hair loss or patchy baldness. Amazingly – hair loss can affect a woman’s chances of finding work or a partner. Even when this isn’t the case – women can feel it is. Hair loss can seriously undermine a woman’s self confidence and self esteem.
The good news is that we are generally much better at seeking help and taking action when things go wrong with our bodies than men. This could be why you’re reading this article and it is a positive first step to getting treatment.
The even better news is that there are hair products and treatments which have good success results. Female hair loss treatment often works better than the male equivalent.
So – don’t dispair. Hair regrowth can and does happen and you can do things to make your hair grow faster.
Don’t expect miracles – it may take a little time to restore your crowning glory but it is perfectly possible to do so.