When you think of hair loss, men usually come to mind. You don’t see a lot of women walking around with receding hairlines or shaved heads as a result of hair loss. However, nearly 40% of women experience some form of hair loss by age 60. This hair loss is usually triggered by every woman’s favorite period of life: menopause. Since it’s a lot less socially acceptable for women to show signs of hair loss, balding can be emotionally devastating for many women.
Androgens are male hormones, which are found in women as well as men, but to a lesser degree. Menopause causes androgen levels to increase, which can in turn trigger thinning of the hair on your scalp and can also cause extra facial and body hair. Androgens do not necessarily decrease your number of scalp hairs, but reduce their diameter and length. The result is a loss of volume or ‘body’. Your hair may not be falling out more, or failing to grow back - but the replacement hairs are weaker and finer.
Hormones are often not the only things to blame when it comes to female hair loss. Several factors can be at play. If female hair loss runs in your family, you may be more likely to experience hair loss during menopause. Other hormonal imbalances, nutritional or iron deficiencies, medication, illness, conditions (like thyroid disease and anemia), diets, and surgeries can also contribute to hair loss.
Hypotrichosis is a condition of abnormal hair patterns, predominantly loss or reduction. It occurs, most frequently, by the growth of vellus hair in areas of the body that normally produce terminal hair. Typically, the individual's hair growth is normal after birth, but shortly thereafter the hair is shed and replaced with sparse, abnormal hair growth. The new hair is typically fine, short and brittle, and may lack pigmentation. Baldness may be present by the time the subject is 25 years old.
“There has been a lot of buzz about cloning hair follicles and then injecting them into the areas where someone is losing hair,” Fusco says. “I believe this is the next step and am very excited about it." She is also optimistic about a new technology that injects growth factors into the scalp and follicles in order to stimulate hair growth, as well as a low-level light therapy that uses laser therapy.
Another method is to wear a hat or a hairpiece—a wig or toupee. The wig is a layer of artificial or natural hair made to resemble a typical hair style. In most cases the hair is artificial. Wigs vary widely in quality and cost. In the United States, the best wigs—those that look like real hair—cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Organizations also collect individuals' donations of their own natural hair to be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other cancer treatment in addition to any type of hair loss.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is another imbalance in male and female sex hormones. An excess of androgens can lead to ovarian cysts, weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, changes in your menstrual period, infertility, as well as hair thinning. Because male hormones are overrepresented in PCOS, women may also experience more hair on the face and body.
There is a condition called Traction Alopecia, which is caused by constant pulling or tension of your hairs over a long period. You don’t have to be dragged around the floor by your head to suffer from this either – if you often wear tight braids, particularly cornrows, or tight ponytails, you are more likely to get Traction Alopecia. So try not to pull your hair tight excessively. Some experts also recommend exercise as a good way to maintain a healthy head of hair.
Trichotillomania, classified as an “impulse control disorder,” causes people to compulsively pull their hair out. “It’s sort of like a tic, the person is constantly playing and pulling their hair,” says Dr. Glashofer says. Unfortunately, this constant playing and pulling can actually strip your head of its natural protection: hair. Trichotillomania often begins before the age of 17 and is four times as common in women as in men.
This butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck pumps out chemicals that keep your body humming along. If it makes too much or too little thyroid hormone, your hair growth cycle might take a hit. But thinner locks are rarely the only sign of a thyroid problem. You might lose or gain weight, become sensitive to cold or heat, or notice changes in your heart rate.
A few years back, your hair was so thick that we could barely see your scalp. But these days, parting your hair leaves a noticeable gap that everyone can see. This is because you’ve lost some of the hair in your crown area, effectively losing some of your hair’s volume. The problem is that you never really know how much thinning is going to happen. For some men, it could just be a little bit of shedding. For others, their hair could continue thinning until there are large bald patches.
The important distinction between male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss is that, whilst men may develop absolute baldness – when the damaged follicles can no longer function so hair growth stops, and the skin takes on a smooth, shiny appearance – this is rare in women. Women’s hair loss may become advanced, but true baldness – as men experience it – is highly unlikely.
Oh my receding hairline is so tied to hormones! I lost my first batch of my thick, beautiful hair when I was pregnant and the next after my hysterectomy….I am still thinning and, you are right, it does seem to worse when I am stressed. It does change how I feel about myself. Thank you for, as usual, bringing great solutions and suggestions Ellen. I will definitely check some out!
Hey everyone, now I know “I am not my hair” (we all know how India sang it, lol), but I sure don’t want to lose it! Some of us have issues with areas of thinning hair – I am no exception to that! I have had thinner hair in my temple area for as long as I can remember having hair. In my case, it’s hereditary (says the family dermatologist), however, I am sure that my lack of knowledge concerning the treatment and management of my hair over the years has contributed to this minor setback. Many of us who have experienced hair loss in the temple area have reached this point due to a number of activities. Thus the following list comes into play:
Yes. Doctors use the Savin scale. It ranges from normal hair density to a bald crown, which is rare. The scale helps document female pattern baldness, a condition your doctor might call androgenic alopecia. You probably know it as male pattern baldness, but it affects about 30 million American women. Experts think genes and aging play a role, along with the hormonal changes of menopause. Your hair could thin all over, with the greatest loss along the center of the scalp.
However, both men and women are able to use the MHRA licensed and FDA-approved minoxidil – a dose-dependent drug which is applied topically to the scalp where needed to promote hair growth. Various formulations of high strength minoxidil are available for men and women and can form part of a targeted treatment course aimed at stopping shedding and encouraging regrowth.