Hair loss is a lesser-known side effect of menopause. Most commonly, women and physicians associate menopause with other side effects like hot flashes, emotional swings, and significant menstrual cycle changes. Unfortunately, hair loss during menopause is a common occurrence that presents a very real threat to mental and emotional health.
Androgenetic alopecia, or pattern baldness, occurs differently in women than it does in men. Simply compare the Ludwig Classification (for female hair loss) with the Norwood Classification (for males), and the difference is quite clear. For men, pattern baldness typically begins with a receding hairline and progresses toward loss of hair at the crown of the head. For women, however, hair loss can be much more difficult to detect.
When a woman begins to lose hair, it usually happens in a more spread-out and diffuse manner along the top portion of the head. For this reason, many women do not recognize the [signs of female hair] loss until long after it has already begun.
With this in mind, here are 4 things to know and understand about hair loss during menopause.
Menopausal Hair Loss: 4 Things to Know
Hair Loss During Menopause is Hormonal
Hormonal fluctuations are known to cause hair loss in both men and women. For men, increased DHT production is usually the culprit responsible for the development of pattern baldness after age 40. Pregnant women sometimes experience the opposite, as pregnancy causes a surge in healthy hormones that can cause hair to become thick, rich, and vibrant.
During menopause, the body’s production of estrogen and other female hormones begins to decline. This causes a relative rise in androgens, or male hormones, which ultimate puts women at risk for developing hormonally induced hair loss.
Stress During Menopause Might Also Cause Thin Hair
Of course, hormones are not the only factor to consider. Certain elements of lifestyle might also contribute to hair loss during menopause. Most common is stress, which can lead to a specific type of hair loss referred to as telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium appears to occur when stress “shocks” the hair follicles into a dormant state in which hair no longer grows, according to the American Hair Loss Association. Taking proactive steps to reduce daily stress can help. Yoga, meditation, journaling, and quiet time alone are all activities that numerous studies associate with low levels of stress.
Psychological Effects of Hair Loss
Hair loss can cause serious mental and emotional health issues for both men and women. It’s vital to understand that such side effects are normal; the hair, face, and teeth are among the first characteristics one individual will notice about another. Together, they help to establish a first impression and, in some cases, a certain level of attraction. Not surprisingly, men and women can feel anxious, embarrassed, and depressed when the health and aesthetics of the face and hair are compromised.
There are two very important things to remember, however. First, stress has a way of exacerbating hair loss (see above). For this reason, women who notice symptoms of thinning, shedding, or balding during menopause are smart to remain calm and consult a physician. Second, women must remember that hair loss during menopause is treatable.
Menopausal Hair Loss is Treatable
There are a variety of treatment protocols available for women who notice thinning, shedding, or balding during menopause. When it comes to non-surgical hair restoration methods, Minoxidil (available by brand name Rogaine®) has been shown successful in halting hair loss for women. Minoxidil is a topical foam that must be applied to the scalp daily, however, which becomes tedious for some women.
Low level laser therapy for hair is a second non-surgical restoration method that has demonstrated an ability to reduce hair loss and, in some cases, stimulate new hair growth. LLLT exposes the scalp to safe, FDA-approved lasers that are designed to stimulate blood flow and nutrient delivery to the hair follicles. Women are particularly found of these “laser therapies for hair loss” because they are quick, convenient, safe, and effective.
Finally, women may elect to have a surgical hair restoration procedure to permanently reverse signs of hair loss. Surgical hair restoration is most commonly performed as a hair transplant, a procedure during which the patient’s own hair follicles are extracted from areas of healthy scalp and relocated to areas of thinning or balding. Surgeons transplant each follicular cluster (sometimes as small as 1-3 units) by hand, effectively camouflaging bald scalp with real hair that looks, feels, and grows naturally.
Early Detection, Successful Treatment
Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment provide the best chance of restoring hair to its naturally full, resilient, and beautiful state. To move forward with a hair loss evaluation, schedule an appointment with the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami. Our team represents South Florida’s finest surgeons, registered nurses, and technicians, each of whom hold your pursuit of a fuller head of hair in the highest regard.
Readers may also call our Institute at 305.925.0222 to speak directly with a member of our team.