Noticed your hair falling out? Whether you’ve spotted more hairs than normal on your pillow, in the shower drain catch or on your clothing, it’s easy to panic when you notice your hair thinning at a faster pace than normal.
Female pattern hair loss is the most common type of hair loss women experience.
What Causes Hair Loss in Women?
When most people hear the words “hair loss,” they think of balding men. However, hair loss can also be a significant problem for women. Female hair loss can occur for several reasons, from a genetic sensitivity to certain androgenic hormones to reactive factors.
We’ve listed the most common causes of female hair loss below, as well as the specific ways in which each cause can affect your hairline.
Hormones are the most common cause of hair loss for both women and men. In both sexes, the specific hormone responsible for hair loss is the same: dihydrotestosterone (known as “DHT”), a hormone that your body produces as a byproduct of testosterone.
Both men and women need testosterone. In men, the body has a large amount of testosterone and a fairly small amount of estrogenic hormones. In women, this ratio is reversed, with a small amount of testosterone and larger quantities of estrogen and progesterone hormones.
Testosterone is responsible for several functions in your body, from regulating your sex drive to keeping your bones and muscle tissue healthy and strong.
Your body uses testosterone as a precursor for several other hormones. One of these hormones is DHT. DHT affects your hairline by miniaturizing hair follicles, causing the hairs to stop growing as they normally would and eventually fall out.
This hair loss is called androgenic alopecia, or female-pattern hair loss (FPHL). Overall, it’s the most serious form of hair loss. Because androgenic alopecia can miniaturize your hair follicles, the hair that you lose is often gone permanently.
In women, hormonal hair loss produces different results from men. Instead of the horseshoe-like hair pattern or receding hairline common in men, women with hormonal hair loss usually notice a diffuse thinning pattern across the entire scalp.
In simple terms, you probably won’t get a receding hairline if you’re prone to female-pattern hair loss, but your hair might become noticeably thinner.
Luckily, androgenic alopecia is treatable. We’ve covered the most effective treatment options for hormonal hair loss further down the page, along with other products that can help you retain as much of your hair as possible.
Because menopause affects your production of several hormones, it can often trigger hormonal hair loss in women.
During menopause, your body’s production of estrogens and progestins can decline. Alongside this decline in female hormone production, your sensitivity to male hormones such as DHT can increase. If you’re genetically sensitive to DHT, this can affect your hairline and hair thickness.
Menopausal hair loss usually happens between the ages of 50 and 60 with most women prone to hair loss noticing a steady decline in their hair density. It can also occur in your 30s and 40s, depending on the specific age at which you begin to enter menopause. Like other female-pattern hair loss, menopausal hair loss is treatable.
Both hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can trigger hair loss. This is because your thyroid plays a role in the development of new strands of hair at the root, helping your body maintain a consistent supply of new hairs.
If your thyroid isn’t working as it should, the hairs you normally lose each day may not be fully replaced by new hair growth.
Thyroid issues not only cause you to lose hair, they can also cause your hair to become weak, dry and brittle. Most of the time, thyroid issues cause diffuse hair loss across your entire scalp, rather than localized hair loss around your hairline, temples or crown.
Unlike hormonal hair loss, hair loss caused by thyroid issues is usually temporary. After you’ve identified and treated the underlying issue, your hair will slowly regrow to its previous thickness and length.
If you’ve been working long hours in a stressful environment or spent the last few weeks dealing with a challenging event in your personal life, it’s possible that the stress you’ve felt could take a toll on your hair.
Hiar Loss caused by stress is called telogen effluvium. Unlike hormonal hair loss in women, it usually isn’t permanent. Telogen effluvium usually results in sudden thinning of your hair across your entire scalp, resulting in more hairs on your pillow, in the drain catch or on your hairbrush.
Like other forms of temporary hair loss, telogen effluvium affects your hairline by forcing hairs into the telogen phase, the final phase of your hair’s growth cycle. This can cause your hairs to fall out without replacement hairs growing in to replace them.
You’ll usually notice telogen effluvium hair loss two to three months after the stressful event or lifestyle change that triggered it.
Like other forms of hair loss in women caused by non-hormonal factors, stress-induced hair loss usually isn’t permanent. Through lifestyle changes and the use of medication, it’s usually possible to regrow most or all of the hair you’ve lost as a result of stress.
Rapid Weight Loss
Although losing weight slowly and consistently usually won’t affect your hair, rapid weight loss can and often does cause some degree of hair thinning.
Like stress, rapid weight loss affects your hairline through telogen effluvium. When you reduce your intake of calories and micronutrients by a significant amount, it can stress your body and trigger temporary hair loss.
Diet-related hair loss is most common in people who use extremely restrictive diets to quickly lose weight. If you only eat a small calorie deficit or exercise more to lose weight gradually, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any negative effects on your hairline.
Like stress-induced hair loss, hair loss you experience as a result of rapid dieting usually isn’t permanent. Over time, by adjusting your diet, changing your habits and using medications to promote healthy hair growth, it’s usually possible to restore your hair to its normal level.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
So, can anemia cause hair loss? The short answer is yes. If your iron levels are low, it could result in damage to your hair.
Iron deficiencies causes the same type of diffuse thinning as hormonal hair loss and telogen effluvium, making it easy to assume this type of hair loss is the result of a hormonal imbalance or stress.
Iron deficiencies can occur for numerous reasons, from a poor diet that’s lacking nutrients to a range of intestinal diseases. Many women experience iron loss during their period, making this form of hair loss quite common in premenopausal women.
The easiest way to find out whether or not your hair loss is caused by anemia is to talk to your healthcare provider about an iron test. Using a ferritin level blood test, your healthcare provider will be able to check the level of iron in your blood and determine if it’s within the optimal range.
If your iron levels are low, your healthcare provider might recommend changes to your diet or the use of an iron supplement. Over time, as your iron levels return to the normal range, you’ll grow back the hair your body shed as a result of its iron deficiency.
Progesterone is a hormone that is typically produced during ovulation but decreases after menopause. To fix the lack of Progesterone, the body tries to fix the hormonal imbalance itself by producing an adrenal cortical steroid called androstenedione. The production of this hormone causes hair loss.
In pregnancy, hair loss may occur when estrogen levels first become elevated and then decrease suddenly. When the estrogen levels are high, this interrupts the normal hair-growth cycle, causing hair follicles to remain active when they should have entered the resting phase.
Hair continues to grow throughout the pregnancy. When the pregnancy ends, estrogen returns to pre-pregnancy levels and hair follicles enter the resting phase in bulk. The mass change to the dormant phase severely retards growth and results in dramatic hair loss.
High Prolactin levels can cause hair loss in a pattern similar to female androgenic alopecia. It does this by interfering with normal ovarian production of estrogen.
What Can You Do About Hormonal Hair Loss?
The good news is that advances in science have given us a great number of options to put the body’s hormones in an optimal state.
1. HORMONE BLOOD TESTING
As we enter the middle age years, our bodies’ production of hormones needed to maintain youthful vitality rapidly declines, while others that lead to hair loss and many other issues may rise. We run a full check up of DHT, Progesterone, Estrogen, Prolactin and Thyroid hormones (among many others) to get a clear picture of whether an imbalance may be leading to hair loss or any other concern.
When dealing with hormonal imbalance and hair concerns, there’s no shortage of places to pick up information on everything from home remedies to pharmaceutical drugs to supplements. It can be overwhelming.
At Cheshire Wellness Clinic we provide you with the most up-to-date, scientifically proven information along with the opportunity to feed and nourish your body with the highest quality pharmaceutical grade supplements in the industry.
While we believe that food should be the fundamental source of nourishment and healing in the body, supplements are a fantastic way to supply nutrients that aid in the speed and effectiveness of healing.
Need help with your situation book a consultation with us.