Research shows that hair loss in women is common and associated with low self-esteem. The most common type of hair loss in women is called androgenetic alopecia or female pattern hair loss.
A recent study puts to rest the misconception that midlife hair loss is something only men need to worry about. Researchers found that more than half of the healthy postmenopausal women they studied had female pattern baldness and it negatively impacted their self-image, according to the findings. Published in the Menopause Journal.
We all know that hair loss or baldness can occur in men in midlife. But we don’t talk about it as much for women. This usually has a different impact on women, especially on their self-confidence. Someone like Bruce Willis can shave his head and look good, but it tends to be more serious for women.
What is female pattern baldness?
The most common type of hair loss in women is androgenetic alopecia or female pattern hair loss. Hair follicles shrink, making hair thinner and thinner, with a decrease in overall hair count. The hair growth phase is also getting shorter and less hair is in the active growth phase. In general, in the case of female pattern baldness, the front hairline stays about the same, but there may be widening in the middle part and thinning of the hair.
Age, family history and body mass index (BMI) are associated with hair loss in women To examine the prevalence of hair loss in women, researchers recruited 178 postmenopausal women in healthy women who were patients at a menopause clinic in Bangkok, Thailand. The average age of the participants was 58 years and, on average, they had experienced the menopausal transition 9 years earlier.
The medical definition of menopause is the absence of periods for one year, and the average age for menopause is 51. Researchers assessed hair density in the middle of the scalp (where hair loss in women typically begins), measured hormone levels, and gathered information about other health issues that may impact hair loss. hair loss and participants’ family history of hair loss.
A total of 93 women (52.2%) had female-pattern hair loss. Using a standardized tool known as the Ludwig Classification to assess the extent of hair loss in these women, the researchers found that 73.2% of them had mild hair loss, 22.6 % reduced hair loss and 4.3% severe hair loss. Age, family history of hair loss, and a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater were significantly associated with hair loss.
What are the causes of hair loss in women?
A better understanding of the mechanisms responsible for this common type of hair loss in women could lead to more effective preventative strategies and treatment options. Although it is not known exactly what causes hair loss, experts have identified a few potential causes.
Genetics influences whether or not a woman loses her hair. There are many different genes linked to hair loss and it is a very complex interaction between many genes. You should not assume that you have done anything to cause your hair loss, especially if you are otherwise healthy.
Anemia or vitamin deficiencies
Both of these conditions are associated with hair loss. A blood test can screen for anemia, and a dietary assessment can reveal if hair loss is linked to a poor diet.
Extreme stress can be a problem and cause hair loss. This condition is called telogen effluvium and luckily the hair loss it causes is temporary.
An abnormal thyroid can contribute to hair loss.
Inflammation of the scalp
Certain conditions, including some autoimmune diseases, can be linked to inflammation of the scalp and cause hair loss.
Hair loss can also be linked to a change in hormones. Androgens, a group of hormones that includes testosterone and androstenedione, do not increase during the transition to menopause, but the ratio of estrogens to androgens does change.
Worried about your hair loss? Talk to your doctor
Your doctor or dermatologist can guide you on medications, supplements, and procedures that can help you fight hair loss.
Not ready to talk to your doctor? There are also hairdressers who specialize in cutting and styling thinning hair.
Prevalence of hair loss in postmenopausal women: a cross-sectional study
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