Is there a relationship between hair loss and menopause?
The most common cause of hair loss is low thyroid function, which is common among menopausal women. Other causes include, but are not limited to: changes in hormone levels (decrease or increase), increased testosterone, increased stress (physical or emotional), various medications, scalp/dermatological issues and heredity. Any time sudden hair loss is experienced, one must consider events which took place up to three months prior to the hair loss, as factors affecting hair loss can often take up to three months to have an effect, i.e., were you diagnosed with something new in the past few months? Did you start taking medication during the past few months? Did you go through a traumatic experience (death of a loved one/friend, divorce and any other event that can be categorized as 'traumatic'). Subsequently, any treatments for hair loss should be given at least three months to have noticeable effects.
You might look into Soy isoflavones which have estrogenic effects (without the risk of synthetic HRT) and have helped many women's hair thinning problems.
When progesterone levels fall as a result of lack of ovulation, the body responds by increasing its production of the adrenal cortical steroid, androstenedione, an alternative precursor for the production of other adrenal cortical hormones. Androstenedione conveys some androgenic (male-like) properties, in this case, male pattern hair loss. When progesterone levels are raised by natural progesterone supplements, the androstenedione level will gradually fall, and your normal hair growth will eventually resume. Since hair growth is a slow process, it may take four to six months for the effects to become apparent. This can be corrected by using naturally compounded hormones.
Additional Information on hair loss and hair in general.
"Hair Loss in women: It's more common than you may think
Originally published in Mayo Clinic Health Letter
"You wouldn't guess it from the male-oriented ads for hair-growth products, but about two-thirds of women also face hair loss at some point in life. Not surprisingly, many find it as alarming as men do perhaps even more so.
For many, the loss is permanent. But some causes of hair loss in women are treatable. Seeing your physician can help you get to the root of the problem.
How your hair grows
Your hair is made of keratin (KER-uh-tin), the same protein that makes up your nails and the outer
layer of your skin. The part you see and style is called the hair shaft. It's actually dead tissue made by your hair follicles tiny bulb-like structures beneath your scalp's surface.
The average head has about 100,000 hairs. Your hair grows and is shed regularly. You usually lose 50 to 100 strands each day. If you have a normal head of hair, you probably don't notice this small loss.
Hair usually grows about half an inch per month, although this slows as you age. Each hair remains on your head for two to six years, and during most of this time is continually growing.
As a hair gets older, it may enter a resting stage in which it remains on your head but doesn't grow. At the end of this stage, the hair usually falls out. Usually, the follicle replaces it in about six months.
But many factors can disrupt this cycle. The result can be that your hair falls out early or isn't
Age and hormones
Most people naturally experience some hair loss as they get older. But age, changing hormones and heredity cause some to lose more hair than others. The result can be partial or total baldness, known as alopecia (al-o-PEE-she-uh).
Men are far more likely than women to have hair loss and baldness as they age. "Male-pattern baldness" is the receding hairline and hair loss on top of the head. It's typically genetic.
But there's also a "female-pattern baldness" also inherited that can cause modest to significant hair loss in women as they age. The hair loss can first become apparent in women by ages 25 to 30.
Female-pattern baldness starts with the replacement hairs becoming progressively finer and shorter. They can also become almost transparent.
Usually, the hair loss is far less prominent than it is in men. It also occurs in a different pattern. Most women first experience hair thinning and hair loss where they part their hair and on the top of the head, but don't have a receding hairline.
About 50 percent of women who experience hair loss have female-pattern baldness. Unfortunately, it's often permanent just as in men. (Dearest Note: Not all hair thinning and loss must be permanent. There have been cases of perimenopausal women, for example, experiencing thinning and lost hair who, once their hormone levels become balanced, can experience the thickness of previously thinning and the regrowth of lost hair that occurred during the ebbing and flowing hormonal years).
A variety of other factors may cause hair loss often temporary in women. These may include:
- Medications Some drugs used to treat cancer can cause your hair to fall out. But other prescription drugs, such as blood thinners, antidepressants and high blood pressure medications, can also cause hair loss. So can birth control pills and high doses of certain vitamins.
- Diet: Too little protein in your diet can lead to hair shedding. So can too little iron. Bottom line: Too strenuous dieting can result in hair loss! If you want to lose weight, do it the sensible way, especially if you have a hair thinning/loss problem to begin with.
- Stress or illness You may start losing hair one to three months after a stressful situation, such as major surgery. High fevers, severe infections or chronic illnesses can also result in hair loss. Auto-immune disorders can cause hair loss.
- Childbirth Some women lose large amounts of hair within two to three months after delivery.
- Alopecia areata Alopecia areata (ar-e-AH-tuh) is a condition in which hair loss occurs only in certain areas, resulting in hairless patches the size of a coin or larger.
- Thyroid disease An overactive or underactive thyroid can cause hair loss. (Dearest Note: One may get her thyroid numbers in order after beginning a regimen of thyroid medication. HOWEVER, there have been reported cases of women experiencing hair loss FROM the thyroid medication.)
- Ringworm If this fungal infection occurs on your scalp, it can cause small patches of scaling skin and some hair loss.
How to treat your tresses with care
Hair loss caused by medical conditions, medications or stress is often treatable and reversible. Your hair may even return on its own.
Although hair loss in women caused by aging and heredity is usually permanent, you may wish to ask your physician about these options:
- Wigs If your hair loss is widespread, wigs may be a relatively inexpensive and easy option.
- Minoxidil (Rogaine) Now sold over-the-counter, minoxidil may help stop hair loss in some people. Effectiveness varies and you need to keep using it to maintain benefits.
- Hair transplants An option for some men, these have less satisfactory results in women. However, a new method, called micrograft hair transplantation, uses single hair grafts and has been successful in selected patients.
Personal Tips from Dearest:
If it's any consolation, many women who've experienced thinning hair or hair loss during the perimenopausal years will see an end to the thinning and loss once their homones level off and they're post-menopausal. If all the hair doesn't necessarily return (and often much of it does), there's likely to be no additional loss.
I know how many women adore their long or blunt cut tresses. However, if you can see your way to it, it's often a good idea to cut your hair short and in layers. Shorter, layered hair adds fullness and body and, as opposed to longer hair, there's no heavy "pull" from the scalp.
- Don't use combs, but soft brushes and try to avoid things like hair spray. Using a "good" mousse (I use Clairol Condition) or soft gel after washing can give your hair additional body without harming the hair.
- I have a trick for fine hair or thinning hair: Blow dry in the opposite direction to how you normally part your hair. When dry, brush it back in the other direction. I learned this from Vidal Sassoon years ago. You can double the "look" of the volume of your hair. I've been doing this for about 20 years.
- Another tip is after washing your hair, dry it in whatever manner you normally do. Then turn your head upside down, give your head a vigorous shake, and once back in a standing position, either "place" your hair using your fingers, rather than a brush or comb. You can also use a hair pick to style your hair. The upside down - shaking - also gives a great deal of fullness to otherwise flat looking thin hair. You'd be amazed at how creative you can be with your fingers without pulling at the root of the hair.
- Avoid using any type of hair comb and anything that "tugs" at your hair.
- I always alternate shampoos -- at least once a month - another thing I learned from Vidal Sassoon many years ago.
- If you've had hair thinning at the temples (which many of us have from wearing hair pulled back in ponytails when we were younger), cutting your hair short and creating whispy bangs can camouflage the areas that have thinned out.
- If you go to a beauty salon for a haircut, tell them you don't want your hair cut in a "feathering" manner. Feathering has a tendency to make hair look even thinner. What you want is to achieve full looking layers, not anything too wispy and thin.
There are so many ways in which you can cover-up the thinning hair, you'd be amazed.
Additionally, and maybe most importantly, thinning, dry, lost hair can make a woman feel less feminine - can cause depression and even anxiety. Coupled with that, as we get older, seeing those scraggly gray hairs popping up can add to the above feelings. One way to feel better is to do some reesarch, or see a colorist and/or dermatologist to ascertain if there's any reason why adding a little color to your hair would cause a problem. You don't want to use any product that's too harsh. There are so many hair coloring products on the market today - many of which are vegetable, semi-permanent colors, but can add highlights, a glow and give you back a good feeling about yourself. Personally, I prefer products by L'Oreal, such as Excellence. It's easy on the hair. It never made my hair feel any thinner and adding some auburn highlights to my brown hair always makes me feel like a new person. Because my hair is fine, I never use the enclosed conditioners with hair color products. Hair conditioners often make fine hair feel thinner and unmanageable. On the other hand, if you do want to use some conditioner, use only a fraction of what's recommended.
Bottom line: While we're feeling the way we do during the menopausal years (peri, post), I think it's important to try anything to help ourselves feel and look better.