Menopause Hair Loss
Let’s Get to the Root of the Problem!
Menopause hair loss can be an emotional blow to your self esteem. Unfortunately, many doctors downplay menopause hair loss and ignore this sign of potentially serious health problems.
It is normal for women to loose between 60 – 100 hairs a day. Everything over that amount is considered excessive. Yes, aging plays a role in thinning hair but many other factors can either contribute, or be the root cause of the problem.
The reasons for hair loss vary and range from genetics, hormone imbalance and age.
Other reasones are:
- Certain medications
- Crash dieting
- Nutritional deficiencies
- And a host of illnesses
If one of these conditions exists, the problem should be temporary and reverse as soon as the condition is removed.
The sooner you can identify the cause of menopause hair loss, the faster you can start the correct treatment.
When we talk about menopause hair loss, you won’t be surprised to hear us talking about estrogen. Estrogen makes hair grow faster and stay on the head longer. So anything that causes a drop in estrogen levels can cause the hair to fall out. (Some women experience this after child birth.)
When estrogen levels fall, the effect of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) - a breakdown product of testosterone – becomes dominant. DHT can cause the follicles to weaken until they no longer produce new hair. This is the typical reason for menopause hair loss. Some women have a genetic pre-disposition and are especially sensitive to the effect of DHT on the follicles.
Hairloss is a common side effect of birth control pills, which are sometimes used to control excessive bleeding during peri-menopause. Specific birth control pills are more likely than others to have this effect. If you experience hairloss, ask your doctor for a low-androgen index pill.
Other hormone imbalances can cause thinning hair, such as Hypothyroidism. Newer research points to a relationship between Insulin resistance, androgen levels and hair loss. Menopause is often the time when those conditions assert themselves.
Other Reasons for Menopause Hair Loss
We already mentioned poor nutrition as a reason for thinning locks. A poor diet, high in refined sugar and with many processed foods, is not only bad for your overall health, but it influences the overall hormone balance.
This is especially important during menopause, when estrogen is no longer as abundant, allowing other hormones, such as DHT, to become dominant.
Hair loss together with brittle nails is a sign of poor health and you should see your doctor to find out the underlying cause.
Stress is a major contributing factor for the problem as well. The stress hormones put your body in a defensive mode and redirecting the cell action to those parts of the body that prepare the fight/ flight response, such as increase blood pressure etc.
Over-styling, harsh shampoos or colorings can make the symptoms worse. Permanents, despite giving the appearance of thicker hair, can be damaging (especially if done together with color to cover grey). Too many chemicals can irritate your scalp and weaken the hair follicles.
Some women have a genetic predisposition to hair loss. Menopause is a time when this genetic pre-disposition can kick in.
What Can You Do About Hair Loss?
While you may not be able to regain your beautiful locks from days gone by, you can at least support the follicles with proper care and nutrition.
There are a lot of hair care products to help with thinning hair, such as the Redken woolshake and Matrix amplify lines. Professional lines, such as those sold in salons, don’t contain beeswax. Beeswax gives the appearance of thicker hair but actually just weights it down.
There are two hair care systems, Nioxin and Bosley, that block the DHT hormone and support healthy hair follicles. Bosley is more aggressive for thinning hair, according to my hairstylist.
We have talked in other sections of this website about proper diet for menopause but for the support of menopause and hair loss, focus on the following Vitamins and Minerals.
- B-complex, especially B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid) and B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Essential fatty acids: Fish Oil, Flaxseed Oil
The only FDA FDA approved treatment for female androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness) is Minoxidil 2% Topical Treatment. There are some small clinical trials that have shown that the 5% solution is much more effective and some doctors prescribe it under close supervision.
Another option is Nizoral Shampoo 1% (Ketoconazole), which blocks the androgen receptors in the follicles. It is available in higher concentration by prescription.
Women in peri-menopause can use low androgen-index Oral Contraceptives, but many health care providers will (rightfully) not prescribe them solely for hair loss.
Estrogen / Progesterone or hormone therapy will also block the effect of DHT to help with menopause and hair loss.
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