One of the more astonishing and unpleasant symptoms of menopause is hair loss. You may find your hair falling out in clumps or just notice your hairbrush is full after every brushing. What causes hair loss in women and what can be done to remedy this situation?
A woman’s hair can begin a drastic thinning for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the cause is an underlying medical condition, so it’s not a symptom to ignore. You may want to discuss sudden hair thinning with your physician to rule out a medical condition requiring treatment.
Women lose hair in a different manner than men. While it is typical for men to have a receding hairline and loss of hair at the crown, a woman’s hair thinning, known as androgenetic alopecia, causes a more general, all over thinning of the sides and top of the head. The hair loss tends to be very gradual, but the rate will accelerate during pregnancy and menopause.
As opposed to male balding, women experience thinning in cycles that may reverse on their own. In postmenopausal women, there may be a drop in estrogen which would help balance androgen (a male hormone) levels. An imbalance in androgen levels is the cause of androgenetic alopecia in this case though blood tests may not show anything out of the ordinary. Without such clinical evidence, skin doctors are often reluctant to treat female baldness with hormones.
The best treatment option for women with androgenetic hair loss is probably topical minoxidil in a 2%-5% solution. If after a year of treatment there are no results, antiandrogens may be tried as a hormone-based systemic treatment. There are dermatologists who claim that antiandrogens are ineffective and may have adverse side effects. Hair transplantation is a very good aesthetic choice but can be pricey.
You may also want to consider alternative treatments. The homeopathic pharmacy suggests sepia for hair loss due to menopause. The herbalist will suggest a daily cup of rosemary tea to increase scalp circulation.
Other herbs that may be helpful for female hair loss include wild yam, chaste tree berry, and dong quai, all of which can help balance female hormone levels. Some herbalists swear by a hair rinse with nettle vinegar to cut down on hair loss.
Supplements may be helpful. In particular, try increasing your intake of vitamin B complex, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, choline, and inositol for stimulating hair growth and maintaining hair health.