Understanding Hormonal Hair Loss in Women
When your hair is falling out, every day is a bad hair day. Losing your hair is frustrating, and it can affect your mood, self-esteem, and your appearance. Thinning hair is often a signal of something else going on in the body. In women, hair loss is often a symptom of a hormonal issue.
Stress, pregnancy, menopause, and other female-related issues can play a role in hormonal hair loss. Here’s a look at the link between hormones and hair.
Women and Hair Loss
If you’re dealing with hair loss, you’re not alone. Over 50% of women deal with significant hair loss at some point in their lives. The most common cause of hair loss is female-pattern hair loss (FPHL). Millions of women deal with the physical and emotional effects of hair loss each day.
Any woman or girl can experience hair loss. It’s most common in:
- Women over 40
- Women who have recently given birth
- Menopausal women
- Women on chemotherapy or other medications
- Women who wear their hair in tight braids or ponytails
- Women who use harsh chemicals on their hair
It’s common to lose up to 100 hairs a day. If you’re losing more, your hair could be thinning due to a variety of hormonal issues.
Nevertheless, you don’t have to accept thinning hair. See your doctor and research the products proven to help regrow thinning hair.
Hormonal Hair Loss
Hormones are the most common cause of hair loss in women. And they can wreak havoc on your skin and hair. Your hormones and hair have an important connection. Your hair needs a healthy balance of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. When your hormones are out of balance, your hair and skin suffer.
When your hormones aren’t functioning as they should, it can result in androgenic alopecia or female-pattern hair loss (FPHL). This is one of the most serious types of female hair loss. Hormonal hair loss doesn’t usually affect the hairline, but it often leads to noticeably thinning hair across the scalp.
Luckily, there are treatments that can help. In some cases, it is possible to regrow or stop female-pattern hair loss.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can both cause hair loss. Your thyroid plays a critical role in the development of new hair. If your thyroid isn’t functioning as it should, the hairs you normally lose won’t be replaced with new growth. Thyroid problems can also cause dry and brittle hair that’s hard to style.
If you’re experiencing these issues, consult your doctor. There are effective medications for thyroid problems. And thyroid-related hair loss usually reverses with proper treatment.
Too much stress can wreak havoc on your health. Stress affects your physical and mental health and can trigger hair loss as well. Stress causes your body to react in survival mode. Stress hormones like cortisol increase in the body and can damage your hair follicles.
Stress-related hair loss is called telogen effluvium. This can result in a sudden thinning of hair across your scalp.
You may notice more hair in the sink, in the bathtub, or on your pillow. Each time you brush your hair, you may see hair coming out. It’s distressing, and it often occurs two to three months after a stressful event. Stress-related hair loss is usually temporary.
With a healthy lifestyle and the right treatment, you can regrow all the hair you’ve lost due to stress.
Menopause changes the balance of hormones in the body. During menopause, your estrogen and progesterone production declines. As these hormones decrease, sensitivity to DHT and other hormones increases. This can trigger hair loss and affect your hair’s strength and thickness.
Menopausal hair loss often affects women in their 50s and 60s. But it can affect younger women in their 30s and 40s as well. During menopause, you may notice your hair thinning or you might see hair growing in areas where it hasn’t grown before.
Hormone replacement therapy, as well as other treatments, may help resolve these issues and help some women regrow hair they’ve lost.
Pregnant women are often thrilled with how healthy their hair looks and feels while they’re pregnant. But they may be shocked by the hair loss they experience after giving birth. The physical stress of labor, along with a sudden drop in hormones, triggers hair loss in many new moms. For many young women, losing large amounts of hair is shocking and depressing.
The good news is that pregnancy-related hair loss is usually temporary. Most women will regrow their hair within a few months of losing it.
Anemia, or iron deficiency, is a common cause of hair loss for women. When your iron levels are low, it can force hair into a chronic resting phase. This results in thinning and shedding hair. If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight or adopted a vegan diet, it can affect your iron levels.
Some women experience iron deficiency during their period. For this reason, hair loss due to anemia is common in premenopausal women. Your doctor can determine if your hair loss is due to low iron levels. A simple blood test to check iron levels in the blood is all it takes for a diagnosis. If you’re anemic, your doctor may recommend making changes in your diet or taking an iron supplement. As your iron levels come back up, you’ll regrow the hair you’ve lost.
Insulin regulates energy in the body. You obtain insulin through your diet. It’s released into the body and helps to store energy when you need it. An overload of insulin in the body can trigger hair loss.
It’s important to eat a balanced diet and avoid eating or drinking too much sugar. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep your insulin levels in balance. This is good for your body and may help you regrow the hair you lost.
Eating disorders can be devastating for the mind and body. Getting into a vicious cycle of starving yourself or overeating can create a variety of physical issues. One result of disordered eating is hair loss.
When your body thinks it’s starving, it funnels all the nutrients to the vital organs in an attempt to stay alive. Your hair isn’t essential for life, so it suffers. Without proper nourishment, your hair becomes dry and brittle. It may look dull and lifeless or begin to fall out.
Proper nourishment is the cure. With proper treatment and nutrition, people do recover and regrow their hair.
Your hair loss could be due to heredity. This condition is called androgenetic alopecia. It runs in families. If you have this condition, you may notice some diffused thinning but no bald spots on the scalp. Hereditary hair loss can happen at any age, but it’s most common after menopause.
If you’re worried about hair loss, there’s good news. Many researchers are studying ways to prevent hair loss and regrow hair. And there are excellent topical medications that may help slow your hair loss and possibly regrow hair.
Signs of Hair Loss
Losing your hair isn’t easy. It may come on suddenly or thin out over time. Some hair loss is normal as the hair goes through its growth and resting phases. Signs of concern include:
- Seeing more hair than usual in the sink or shower or on your pillow or the floor
- Seeing patches of thinning hair on your head or noticing your part is getting wider
- Seeing your hair break as you brush or style it
- Seeing your scalp through your hair
- Seeing smaller ponytails
If you notice your hair falling out or breaking more than usual, see your doctor. Do your research to find the right hair loss products for your needs.
Talk to Your Doctor
Don’t let your hair loss continue without a fight. It’s a good idea to see your doctor or a dermatologist at the first signs of hair loss.
Your doctor may examine your scalp and order a laboratory workup to determine the cause of your hair loss. Your doctor may ask the following questions:
- How long have you been experiencing hair loss?
- Did it start suddenly?
- Where is your hair loss noticeable?
- What’s your normal hair care routine?
Your doctor will want to check for hormonal imbalance or nutritional deficiency before recommending any treatments.
Emotional Effects of Hair Loss
While hair loss is not dangerous, it’s important to understand why you’re losing your hair. For most women, hair is a vital part of their appearance.
Hair loss is an emotional issue. Everyone wants beautiful, healthy hair. When your hair thins out, it can affect your mood and your self-esteem. Women who experience hair loss are often embarrassed and will spend time and money trying to hide it. The sooner you acknowledge your hair loss, the better.
Treatments work better in the early stages of hair loss. There is help available. There are products that may stop or even reverse your hair loss.
Menopause and Hair Care
If you are experiencing menopausal hair loss, there are steps you can take to battle hair loss and improve the quality of your hair and overall health.
Reduce Your Stress
Stress can send your hormones on a wild ride and cause a variety of health issues. Hair loss and stress go hand-in-hand. After menopause, your hormones plummet. This can leave you with anxiety, depression, and mood swings. All of this can contribute to hair loss.
To combat stress, try exercising regularly. You may want to practice yoga or meditation to help you relax. Take breaks during the workday, and try not to carry work stress home with you.
Stress is one of the main hair loss causes. Evaluate your stress levels to see if stress is at the root of your hair loss.
Move Your Body
Exercise is important for a healthy body and mind. It’s a great stress reliever and can help you feel strong and confident. Physical activity can prevent some troubling symptoms of menopause, including weight gain, insomnia, and mood swings. Exercise is critical for hormonal balance and healthy hair growth.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is good for your body and your hair. Be sure to eat a balanced diet with lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Healthy oils like olive and sesame oils are good for your skin and your hair. The essential fatty acids in foods like salmon, tuna, flaxseed oil, and nuts also play an important role in healthy hair growth.
If you’re worried about thinning hair, be sure to stay away from hot styling tools. The heat from blow dryers, curling irons, and straighteners dries out your hair. This can weaken your hair and lead to further hair loss. The artificial chemicals in hair dyes are harsh and can damage fragile hair.
Use a mild shampoo and nourishing conditioner to keep your scalp healthy and promote new hair growth.
Look for Quality Products
Today’s women are fighting hair loss every step of the way. And there is promising research on the horizon for anyone experiencing hair loss. There are many great products and medications to help nurture your scalp and prevent hair loss. Talk to your doctor, do your research, and find what’s right for your hair loss needs.
The Solution to Hormonal Hair Loss
Hair loss in women is often the result of hormonal imbalance. If you’re experiencing thinning hair, you’re not alone. It’s an emotional issue many women face. If you’re noticing significant hair loss, don’t wait. The earlier you address hormonal hair loss, the better your results will be.