Are hair loss and menopause connected? Whilst it's true that as many as 40% of women DO experience some thinning as (yet another!) menopause symptom, it doesn't mean that the two HAVE to go hand in hand!
On this page I'll look at the reasons why you might notice some loss of hair as you go through menopause... and what you can do about it.
Please note: You should always speak to your doctor about your hair loss concerns and the information given here should NOT be seen as medical advice.
As you will probably remember if you've ever gone through a pregnancy, hormones can have a drastic effect on all sorts of bodily processes... particularly when your hormonal levels are up and down!
The view most commonly held by the medical profession is that decreasing estrogen levels during menopause lead to a disproportionate INCREASE in the level of the hormone testosterone.
A disproportionate increase in testosterone does not mean that you are producing MORE of it... simply that you are producing less estrogen to counteract its effects.
The excessive testosterone - no longer held in check - is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This can lead to damage to the hair follicles, thinner hair strands... and - unfortunately - the growth of facial hair, too.
and neither should it necessarily be something you have to accept as unavoidable and 'par for the course'.
There are MANY other factors that could be to blame, most of which are 'fixable' in some way.
Despite some doctors insisting there's no relationship between hair loss and stress, many of us beg to differ and notice a definite difference in our hair when we're going through a difficult time.
At the time of menopause many of us are going through stressful situations, ranging from marital or financial issues to dealing with children entering adulthood and all the problems that go with the transition.
Good nutrition is always important, but perhaps more so as we get older and the effects of inadequate nutrient intake become more and more apparent in our hair!
As mentioned above, good nutrition is vital to the hair. Dieting - which often involves restricting or limiting entire food groups - can be catastrophic for hair growth.
Nuts and cheese, for example, are high protein foods - protein being an essential component of healthy hair. Yet many women refuse to eat them altogether, based on their calorie content.
Healthy eating is important to over-all well-being, of course, but eliminating high quality calories like these is counter-productive.
If necessary, speak to a nutritionist to come up with a plan that will help you achieve your weight loss goals whilst still meeting your nutritional needs, particularly with regard to the hair.
Another problem contributing to significant hair loss - but often overlooked - is iron deficiency. It's easily diagnosed by your doctor using a simple blood test and generally treated with iron supplements, or dietary modification if less severe.
We tend to underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep... the part of the day when the body restores itself in many ways.
If you're burning the candle at both ends, you owe it to yourself to get the sleep you NEED. Your hair and over-all health will benefit as a result.
You might be surprised at just how many different medications may have an impact on the hair, some causing SIGNIFICANT hair loss in some women.
Check through this list of medications that cause hair loss to see if any of them may be affecting you.
If you're experiencing hair loss then it's important to talk to your doctor about being tested for hypothyroidism. Many women suffer from this condition without realizing, blaming their hair loss on age rather than this very treatable condition.
Years of blow-drying, straightening, curling, dyeing, bleaching, perming etc may be finally taking their toll.
And although you may THINK your hair is falling out because it looks thinner, it may simply be that it is breaking off due to damage.
Start treating your hair with the respect it deserves!You can still style and color it, of course, but choose dyes that are gentle on the hair and products that protect your hair from heat, such as TRESemme's Heat Tamer Protective Spray
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By the same token, give your hair (and yourself) a break as often as possible by letting it be "au naturel" from time to time. You don't ALWAYS need to look perfect... and it's a safe bet that the natural 'you' is far more beautiful than you realize!
As we age, the hairs themselves sometimes become thinner in diameter. This gives the impression of thinning all over, leading us to believe that we're losing our hair - whereas, in fact, the number of hair follicles is exactly the same as it's always been.
Whilst there's little you can do to increase the diameter of each strand, it IS important to note that thinner strands are more prone to damage. So be even MORE careful to treat hair gently when styling.
It can sometimes take a few months for hair loss connected to illness or major surgery to show up. So if you're experiencing significant hair loss, cast your mind back and see if there may be an event within the last 6 months that put your body through some kind of trauma.
This type of hair loss is rarely permanent and your hair should begin growing back without treatment.
If there is a family history of balding (female pattern hair loss) then this may lead to a gradual loss of hair as you age, with hair particularly receding along the hairline.
If treatments recommended by your doctor are not successful, then this may be a situation where a cosmetic procedure (such as a hair transplant) or accessories such as a hair piece or wig would be the most effective option for restoring your confidence.
Identifying WHY you may be losing your hair is important - finding out how you can FIX the problem is even more essential!
Here are some things YOU can do to limit - or reverse - your hair loss.
But please remember that there is no quick fix for hair loss and it may be several months before you begin to see the results you're hoping for.
If declining estrogen levels seem to be your problem - or if you believe your hormones may simply be out of balance - read through my Estrogen and Hair Loss page for advice on how to naturally get everything "in sync" again.
You may also want to think about taking black cohosh.
Popular for women's health issues since the 1950's. black cohosh is believed to help relieve the negative symptoms of PMS, painful periods and menopause. It's also believed to be useful in preventing osteoporosis.
Not to be confused with blue or white cohosh - which are completely different plants and may be unsafe for use - black cohosh seems to produce the effects of estrogen in some parts of the body.
Black cohosh should not be thought of as an “herbal estrogen” or a substitute for estrogen. It is more accurate to think of it as an herb that acts similar to estrogen in some people.Scientific research DOES back up some of the claims as to black cohosh's effectiveness in treating the symptoms of menopause, although studies showed only modest results and mostly focused on a particular product - Remifemin.
This means that the same benefits may not be derived from ALL products containing black cohosh.
Nevertheless, black cohosh doesn't seem to have any adverse side effects - so, with your doctor's permission, it may well be worth a try!
The dosage recommended by WebMD for the symptoms of menopause is 20-80 mg once or twice a day.
Read through my nutrition page, which gives details of all the nutrients known to promote healthy hair, and the foods in which you'll find them.
...for hypothyroidism and iron deficiency, both common hair loss culprits.
Originally used as a treatment for high blood pressure, experts became aware of its effects on hair growth when people taking it started noticing hair growing in places they'd previously lost it!
It's not a perfect solution... it doesn't work for everyone and the hair that grows back can be thinner than before, or may have a different color or texture to the rest of the hair.
It also takes a while to work - the earliest you may see results is after 2 months, and some users have to take it for 6 to 12 months before seeing any benefits.
If it DOES work, you will have to take it continuously - if you stop, your hair loss will return.
And please note that there are many generic versions of Rogaine available. Whilst they all contain the same amount of Minoxidil, some may have added ingredients that could provoke an allergic reaction if you're sensitive.Click here to order Rogaine for Women online
Popular in the UK but less well-known elsewhere, this drug free supplement containing a marine complex became well known after Irish singer Maureen Nolan described how it helped her regain her hair as she went through menopause.Buy Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Nutrient Tablets (Amazon)
Traction alopecia - caused by tight ponytails, braiding, weaving etc, can affect anyone at any age.
If you're already suffering from thinning, breaking hair, however, then subjecting it to stress will simply compound the problem.
A good hair volumizer will add significant lift to your locks and can work wonders at making the most of the hair you have!
There are also a few hair loss shampoos that make the scalp and hair look and feel as healthy as possible.
And if you have very thin patches, you hide them instantly with a good hair loss concealer.
Keep your hair cut above shoulder level. When it's very thin, wearing it long can make it look extremely wispy. A blunt cut will help it look thicker.
Discuss coloring it with a gentle dye. Dyeing causes the hair shaft to swell, making the hair look fuller overall. If you DO go that route, make sure you get your roots touched up regularly. If you don't, you'll draw attention to them... and if your part is wide due to hair loss, then that's the LAST thing you'll want to do!
There are mixed opinions about the effectiveness of these in treating hair loss, but many people swear by them.
Since neither provoke any harmful reactions, either may be worth a try.
...disguise your hair loss with scarves, head bands, clip in hair pieces or wigs.
Instead of looking on these as negative things, treat them as you would your make-up... just another way to enhance your looks and give you the confidence to face the world with a smile.