It’s perhaps one of the most distressing things for a woman- thinning hair. While many assume it’s a man’s problem, some 40% of women over 50 experience thinning hair. The problem can cause loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, so it’s not something to be taken lightly. The good news, though, is that if you find your hair thinning there’s usually something you can do about it.
The reasons for thinning hair at menopause
There are several causes for thinning hair at menopause, but for once, oestrogen’s not to blame.
This time it’s testosterone, an important hormone for women as well as men.
Although the exact causes are unknown, it’s thought that as your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, you end up with a relatively higher level of testosterone, which affects your hair follicles.
A genetic irregularity in the way your follicles metabolize testosterone causes this hormone to be converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) at a higher rate more than in other women. DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink and the result is hair loss, thinner strands of hair, and less pigment (grey or white hair).
In most women who experience this, hormone and reproductive function is normal, so there’s nothing to worry about in that department.
Hormones aren’t all there is to it, though. Many women overlook the fact that stress can also lead to thinning hair. Whether it’s a serious illness, the death of a loved one, or adjusting to a major life change such as retirement, stress can shock the hair follicles into dormancy. If you have extreme hair loss, though, contact your doctor. Dramatic hair loss can be a sign of a serious heath condition like thyroid disease.
Is it temporary or permanent?
The first question most women want answered is whether thinning hair is temporary or permanent. Does it grow back or are we stuck with thin hair? The answer depends on the cause of your thinning hair. If you suffer from genetic “female pattern baldness” (your mother or grandmothers lost hair, too), then unfortunately hair loss is likely to be permanent. That’s why it’s a good idea to do what you can to prevent it before it goes too far. On the other hand, hair loss from stress is temporary and your hair will resume its normal rate of growth within 6 months after the stress passes.
How to prevent thinning hair at menopause
If you think you may be facing the possibility of permanent hair loss, there are things you can do to prevent it. Good nutrition is vital for healthy hair, especially vitamins A and D, iron and protein. For mild hair loss, it can help to increase the level of female hormones in the body. For a natural way to do this, try foods rich in phytoestrogens like soy and lentils or natural progesterone creams made from these plants. Natural progesterone is particularly effective as progesterone is a pre-cursor hormone and is used by many of the bodies systems including the one responsible for hair growth.
Hair loss products
For serious cases of hair loss, products may be prescribed by a physician. The two most popular products for men, Minidoxil (Rogaine) and Finasteride (Propecia) can be used by women, but only those no longer able to conceive, since these drugs are known to cause fetal abnormalities.
While thinning hair can become a serious problem if left untreated, there are a things you can do to save your hair. If you’d rather not to risk it with prescription drugs, try adding hair-health nutrients and phytoestrogens to your diet.