Causes of Hormonal Hair Loss in Women

By Charity Zapolnik

  • Overview

    Androgenetic alopecia, in women known as female pattern baldness, is a permanent condition that can be caused by a hormonal imbalance. This is of particular importance, since it affects nearly 40% of aging women. Understanding its causes and treatment options available, is vital to maintaining physical and emotional health.
  • Causes

    Menopause and perimenopause are the most common culprits of hormone related hair loss. As women age, estrogen production slows causing the levels to decline. When this happens there is an imbalance created between estrogen and testosterone. This imbalance increases the conversion rate of testosterone, resulting in abnormally high levels of androgens (male sex hormone), like dihydrotesterone (DHT). A change in this level affects the growth-rest-fall out cycle of hair, by shrinking new hair follicles, making new hair growth impossible. Additionally, elevated stress and conditions like thyroid disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome can cause hormonal imbalances that lead to the thinning and loss of scalp hair.
  • Considerations

    Hair lends itself to the outward interpretation of beauty and can be a reflection of a woman's true health. When hair loss occurs, it is necessary to consult with a medical professional to find the underlying reasons. Once determined, a program of nutritional and hormonal support can begin. This would include psychological treatment for those who suffer from depression and self-esteem issues due to the strain and mental anguish associated with hair loss. Implementing stress-alleviating activities can also prove beneficial.

  • Drug Treatment

    Unfortunately, the hair loss experienced thus far is permanent, however, drug therapy, surgical procedures and self-care solutions can help conceal or slow further hair loss. As of January 2009, there is only one FDA approved drug treatment available. Minoxidil, known as Rogaine, is a 2% concentration that is applied topically to the scalp. Rogaine works by suppressing the transformation of testosterone to the androgen, DHT. It can be effective in stopping further hair loss and is easy to use. The downside is that this treatment may only help 20 to 25% of female patients. It is expensive and hair loss is reoccurring once the treatment is stopped.
  • Surgical Option

    Hair transplant surgery is another effective treatment for hair loss. It entails the removal of healthy hair plugs and their placement into balding scalp areas. There is a risk of skin infections and scarring from this surgical procedure. This is usually the most expensive solution, as several sessions are needed to get the desired look, but the results are permanent and satisfactory.
  • Self-Care Solutions

    For those of you looking for something less drastic the hair replacement surgery, there are some self-care solutions. A simple change in hairstyle, wigs and hairpieces, or the use of weaving hair that is loose or on the track, can effectively conceal hair loss and improve the overall look of your general appearance. These are the safest and usually least expensive solutions.
  • Warning

    If you notice persistent hair loss that is bothersome to you, consult with your health practitioner. Together you can decide what appropriate lifestyle changes or medical treatment is needed.
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