Dealing with thinning hair or hair loss during menopause can be frustrating. You might be noticing more hairs left behind on your hair brush, (notice how the stubborn grey hairs remain on our heads?) or more hair clogging up the shower drain. Unlike hair loss in men which features a receding hair line or noticeable balding spot, hair loss in women usually means an overall thinning of the hair.
Menopause can lead to thinning hair but there may be other contributing factors. Knowing the types of hair thinning in women and the possible causes will help you in the search for the best treatment options.
Hair loss during menopause is a result of lower levels of estrogen and the increased levels of testosterone. For women this means fewer hairs growing on the head and in some cases hairs growing on parts of the body where the last thing we want to see is hair. But there are additional factors that can lead to hair loss in women.
•Hypothyroidism, when the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones
•A poor diet lacking in Omega-3 fats that help keep hair healthy
•Iron deficiency leading to anemia and insufficient red blood cells that normally help with hair growth
•Stress takes a toll on your body and depletes it of efficient nutrient use
•Scalp infections or conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can affect hair growth and hair loss in severe cases
•Some medications have side effects that can include hair loss
•Pregnancy, like menopause, means changes in hormone levels which can affect hair growth patterns.
Once you have checked with your doctor to find the cause behind your thinning hair, you may be diagnosed as having one of the following conditions.
*Androgenetic alopecia is a genetic condition that usually appears during menopause, affecting approximately 13% of menopausal women and 75% of women older than 65.* This type of hair loss is characterized by thinning hair all over the head without a prominent bald spot or a receding hairline. Treatment can include Rogaine but not all women will see results.
*Alopecia areata is a more sudden type of hair loss where you may notice small patches on your head. This type of hair loss usually indicates an underlying condition affecting your immune system. You might be undergoing a significant period of stress. Sufferers of psoriasis or eczema may have a severe case that causes this temporary but distressing pattern of hair thinning. Treatments will focus on the underlying cause to lessen the hair loss, and you may also be given Rogaine.
*Telogen Effluvium is also a sudden form of hair loss, but on a larger scale. Often this occurs due to chemotherapy treatments, major surgeries, very high periods of stress, or chronic illnesses. You will see that most of your scalp is affected but usually once the primary condition has passed the hair normally returns to its normal growth pattern.
*Traumatic alopecia occurs years of harsh hair and scalp treatments. Excessive pulling and tightening of the hair (braids, corn rows), constant straightening treatments, and chemical styling products damage the hair and scalp resulting in damaged hair follicles unable to produce new hair. Women who have worn the same part in their hair for several years may notice that they have an exaggerated part, or area that exposes a lot of scalp along the part line. Stopping these styling practices is important but a lot of irreparable damage has been done.
Once your doctor has found the cause and type of your hair loss, you can begin a treatment program to help reduce the effects on your hair growth. In some cases, the hair can be encouraged to grow again but it will rarely be the same as when you were younger. More often than not, your hair will be thinner and require some treatments or adjustments to these physical changes.
Hair loss in women still carries a lot of stigma and can cause quite a bit of anxiety. Talk to your doctor and your hair care professional to create a healthy hair plan that will help you deal with hair loss and prevent it from taking over your life.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You