Hair loss is a condition traditionally associated with men; however, it is a reality for an astonishing number of women as well. Particularly during menopause, when hormones are imbalanced, hair loss is an unfortunately common occurrence. Often, this is one of the first symptoms of menopause that a woman notices. Hair loss can be one of the more depressing symptoms of menopause, as a woman's hair is associated with her femininity, sexuality, and individual sense of style.
Fortunately, through learning more about how and why it occurs, it is possible to treat hair loss. Keep reading to find out more about hair loss as it occurs in menopause, why it happens, and how to treat it.
About Hair Loss
The average head contains approximately 100,000 hairs at any given time. Hair is formed from keratin, a protein that also forms the nails and outer layer of skin. Above the surface, the part that is brushed and styled, each strand of hair is actually dead tissue secreted by hair follicles, which exist below the scalp's surface. This visible section is called the hair shaft.
Hair remains on the head for a length of time between 2 and 6 years, during which time it grows continually, this growing phase is known as anagen. By contrast, there is also a resting phase known as telogen, about three months in duration, in which the hair stops growing and falls out.
It is normal to lose 50-100 hairs each day. These are constantly regenerated by the hair follicles. However, it is possible for a far greater loss of hair occur, particularly in women undergoing the transition to menopause.
Not all hair loss is the same. As it can be caused by a variety of factors, there are a number of ways in which it might manifest itself. When imagining hair loss, many people automatically picture male pattern baldness, which is characterized by the receding hairline and bald patch on top of the head. In menopausal women, this hair loss tends to not be as noticeable, with an overall thinning in most cases rather than bald spots.
Symptoms of hair loss
As some degree of hair loss is normal, it may be difficult to ascertain whether or not the amount of hair being shed warrants concern. The following are some of the most commons symptoms of hair loss in menopause:
• Hair falls out in large clumps when washing it.
• Large snarls of hair appear in the brush or comb.
• Small bald patches appear on the scalp.
• Scalp is red, oily, or itchy.
• Noticeable hair thinning occurs on the front, sides or top of head.
If experiencing these symptoms, it is likely that hair loss has reached a problematic point. Click on the following link for more information about the specific types of hair loss during menopause, or continue reading to learn more about the causes of hair loss during menopause.
Estrogen, androgen, and progesterone are all hormones that contribute to healthy hair follicles, so the hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause hair to become thin and brittle, and sometimes bald patches might appear. Though distressing, hair loss can be managed via natural means, through a series of lifestyle and dietary alterations.
Hair loss in women over 40 is fairly common, partly due to natural aging and partly due to menopausal hormone imbalances that often occur in these years. During perimenopause, a woman's hair may become thin and even slightly patchy, but there are ways of dealing with this and promoting the regrowth of healthy hair.
Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss during menopause is usually a direct result of fluctuating hormone levels. Two main hormones are involved in hair growth: estrogen and testosterone. In estrogenic alopecia, the most common type of hair loss for menopausal women, hair loss is directly attributed to a fall in estrogen levels. Estrogen helps hair grow faster and stay on the head longer, leading to thicker, healthier hair.
Estrogen is not the only hormone that comes into play menopausal hair loss. Androgens, or male hormones, increase as estrogen levels decrease. This causes androgenic alopecia, another form of hair loss. An androgen known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), appears to bind to hair follicles and force them to go into their "resting" phases, or telogen, sooner than normal, causing the new hairs to grow ever thinner with each cycle of hair growth. Testosterone also shrinks hair follicles, causing hair loss on the head but a greater production of hair on the face.
It is not only hormones that can cause a decrease in hair production during menopause; there are a number of other causes that can lead to hair loss. Keep reading to learn more about other less common causes of hair loss.
For menopausal women, the cause of hair loss almost always is at least partially hormonal, there are many other factors that may also play a role in hair loss during menopause, including medical, psychological, or lifestyle triggers.
• Thyroid disorders
• Pituitary problems
• Chronic illnesses
• Scarlet fever
• Emotional stress
• Traumatic events
• Eating disorders
• Excess of vitamin A
• Lack vitamins B and C
• Iron deficiency
• Lack of protein
• Lack of exercise
• Pulling or twisting hair
Fortunately, through learning more about the causes of hair loss, it is possible to treat it. Click on the following link to find more information about the causes of hair loss during menopause, or read on to find out more about ways to overcome hair loss during menopause.
Severe emotional strain and prolonged anxiety are both symptomatic of stress. On top of emotional alarm, stress can also cause a number of physical symptoms, including hair loss. Hair may fall out, resulting in thinning hair and even bald patches in those suffering with intense stress.
A number of factors may contribute to menopausal hair loss, such as genetics and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. These deficiencies can be addressed by ensuring a balanced and nutritious diet is consumed. Learn about the key vitamins and minerals to include in your diet and the foods which contain these. Essentials include vitamin b and omega-3 fatty acids.
Treatments for Hair Loss
Americans spend 1 billion dollars per year on hair loss treatments. Unfortunately, according to The American Hair Loss Society, 99% of these treatments are ineffective. For women in particular, most do not want to sit back and let their hair fall out slowly without taking action. Luckily, there are alternative solutions that can be successful for women experiencing hair loss.
Lifestyle adjustments may help. Changes in diet and hair care are beneficial to some degree, as diet affects the rate of hair growth. Increasing one's intake of protein, vitamin B, vitamin C, and iron all help. Exercise and stress reduction techniques such as yoga or meditation improve overall health, and taking care to not pull or twist hair can minimize damage.
On a deeper level, because a high percentage of hair loss is caused by changes in hormone levels, it may be beneficial to use alternative treatments that help to balance these hormones, such as herbs that stimulate the body into producing its own hormones again. Many times, the most effective and safest solution is to combine lifestyle adjustments with alternative treatments.
For extreme cases, there are medications or hair transplant surgeries available, but care should be taken as these can be risky and side effects are possible.
Most experts recommend that women who suffer from hair loss and wish to treat it begin first with lifestyle changes, then move on to alternative medicines (ideally combining the two), and then finally resort to drugs or surgery if nothing else seems to work. Click on the following link to learn more about specific treatments for hair loss during menopause.
It can be distressing to notice hair becoming thin or falling out, as many women define their image by their hair's healthiness and style. Luckily, the effects of hair loss can be minimized and disguised with a series of simple, natural treatments to help promote hair growth and restore existing hair to optimum condition.
Hair loss may be a natural part of aging, but it can really shake a woman's confidence. The best way to counteract the effects of hair loss is to use remedies that stimulate healthy hair growth. Luckily, many herbs can be used for this purpose.
- "Hair Loss". Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.com.
- Dr. McNair, Trisha. "Hair Loss". BBC Health. www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Womens Hair Loss". The American Hair Loss Association. www.americanhairloss.org.
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