Hair loss is a common menopause symptom alongside insomnia, hot flashes, and menopausal weight gain. Some studies show that more than 50% of postmenopausal women experienced some level of hair loss as one of their primary symptoms during menopause.
The good news is there are ways to combat menopause hair loss and improve the health of your hair, no matter what stage of “the change” you’re in.
Causes of Hair Loss in Women
There may be a variety of causes for hair loss or thinning hair in women, but we should first look at the different terms used when talking about these conditions.
Thinning hair doesn’t always mean you’re going bald. It can mean your hair grows finer or sparser. Thinning hair and changes in the texture and quality of hair is a typical result of aging.
Hair loss is when hair sheds or breaks from the root. Over time, it can lead to baldness or bald patches along the scalp. It’s more common in older men and women but can also result from external factors like environmental stressors.
Women’s most common type of hair loss is female pattern hair loss (FPHL) or androgenetic alopecia. Genetics, hormones, stress levels, nutritional deficiencies, and inflammation can all cause FPHL.
Men experience androgenetic alopecia, too. It’s just more commonly known as male-pattern baldness. Rather than thinning hair overall, men are more likely to have a receding hairline. Genetics are the most significant driver in bald spots among men.
Why am I losing my hair in menopause? You may lose your hair in menopause because of hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause.
Hormones and Hair Health in Aging Women
As we age, the hormones involved in the health of our hair fluctuate and eventually decline. From sex hormones to thyroid hormones, there are many which affect your hair quality and the overall look and feel of your hair.
When progesterone and estrogen levels change, they don’t just cause side effects like more hair in the shower drain. They affect your hair growth cycles, slowing down active hair growth and limiting the number of active hair follicles.
Many women also experience a different hormonal imbalance in menopause: an increase in androgens, a sex hormone found in both men and women, though in more significant amounts in men.
Androgens like dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are the hormones responsible for male characteristics like facial hair.
Some women experience an increase in androgens that affects hair growth in the opposite direction. They begin to notice hirsutism, or excessive hair growth, in certain body parts. Both can certainly affect a woman’s self-esteem.
Is hair loss from menopause permanent? In some women, hair loss from menopause can be permanent, especially in the menopausal or postmenopausal phase. Women are officially in menopause once they’ve had an entire year without a period.
Women in perimenopause may be able to reverse some of the effects of menopause hair loss at the first signs of declining hair health.
Prevention of Hair Loss During Menopause
Women in perimenopause can take several steps to reduce hair shedding and prevent hair loss. This includes natural remedies for menopause that can help hair grow back or improve the appearance of their hair, even if it won’t return hair to pre-menopausal levels.
Eat a balanced diet.
A nutritious and varied diet is key for healthy hair, as well as overall health and comfort during menopause. In many women, visible hair loss is the result of nutritional deficiencies. Add hormonal changes, and it’s a recipe for dull, thinning hair.
Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetable oils, avocadoes, salmon, and walnuts are good sources of essential fatty acids that can contribute to healthier, fuller hair.
Oxidative stress contributes to inflammation and a variety of chronic health conditions. It can also contribute to at least one type of hair loss: telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss keeps hair growth in a telogen or resting phase instead of moving between rest and active growth.
Over time, this can lead to more rapid hair loss no matter where you are in your journey through menopause. Thankfully, reducing stress can dramatically improve the health of your hair.
Find ways to combat stress. This can mean regular exercise, meditative practices, and even changes to your work-life balance to reduce daily pressures and stress-related symptoms.
Regular exercise is an excellent way to relieve the stress associated with not only menopause but daily life. It’s also a way to maintain healthy joints and bones, limit hormonal weight gain, and improve longevity.
Be gentle with your body if you’re experiencing joint pain during menopause due to increased inflammation as estrogen and testosterone levels drop. Incorporate light movements and stretching as your body allows to prevent further deterioration. Yoga and meditative practices may be supportive here.
Get your rest.
A lack of good sleep can cause a stress response in the body, and stress has a direct link to hair loss. One study even found a link between sleep disorders and alopecia areata, an immune system response that can lead to sudden bald patches on the scalp.
Do your best to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Supplement with melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycles, if necessary or when traveling between time zones. Rest is essential to overall health and in managing menopause symptoms.
Be gentle with your hair.
Hair can become dull and brittle well before menopause, if exposed to frequent heat and other styling tools, hair dye, and even hairstyles that pull at the root.
Substitute a tight ponytail for a looser hairstyle once in a while, choose more natural hair colors or skip the hair dye altogether, and use heat-protecting serums before using hair styling tools. Conditioning treatments and nourishing creams can also plump up dry and brittle hair.
Don’t forget your scalp while you’re at it. Test out scalp serums that hydrate your hair without leaving it too oily. A healthy scalp means healthy hair follicles and the potential for improved hair regrowth.
Hair loss treatments can vary depending on the root cause of that hair loss. If a nutritional deficiency exacerbates your hair loss, for example, a change in diet should precede medications or more aggressive approaches.
Regarding medications, Rogaine or the equivalent over-the-counter topical hair loss treatment with minoxidil is a common approach to thinning hair and hair loss among men and women. Additional treatments include:
- Spironolactone: This medication is typically used to treat high blood pressure but has also shown some promise in ininhibiting the formation of DHT which can accelerate hair loss. It’s important to note that this is an off-label use for the medication.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): HRT can be life-changing for many menopausal women and improve both quality of life and hair health. Working closely with your doctor on the right balance is essential, as some hormones can contribute to hair thinning.
- HRT alternatives: HRT alternatives like herbal supplements and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy are a more natural option for many women. The goal is similar to HRT: balance hormones to improve menopause symptoms.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections: Hair restoration using PRP injections is a 3-step process. Blood drawn from a patient is sent through a centrifuge that separates platelet-rich plasma. That plasma is reinjected into the scalp to stimulate hair growth.
- Microneedling: This cosmetic procedure is a common approach for various skin concerns, like fine lines and acne scarring. Tiny needles create micro-injuries in targeted areas, stimulating collagen production. That same premise may support hair regrowth.
- Laser therapy: Low-level laser treatments may stimulate hair follicles to the point of regrowth. While studies show this method is safe and effective in some, they also caution that more research is needed to support a link between the treatments and hair growth.
- Hair transplants: Hair transplants and surgical hair restoration are considered the last resort for women beyond the help of less invasive hair loss treatments. Many women require additional surgeries down the line as hair continues to thin.
Women in perimenopause who want a more functional approach may see some success with supplements that address deficiencies in the body.
Best Supplement For Hair Health During Menopause
Your doctor may recommend various supplements as treatment options for menopause. Black cohosh is one often used for night sweats and hot flashes as an alternative to HRT.
The best supplement for improved hair quality is RegeneMax Plus from Xymogen. This supplement thickens and strengthens your hair through a combination of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (cH-OSA), silicon, and biotin — a B-vitamin essential to healthy skin and hair.
Zinc and iron supplementation may also be necessary if you have a deficiency in these nutrients. Your levels can be tested by your doctor through bloodwork. It’s also important to optimize your thyroid function and to take nutrients that support your thyroid gland such as iodine, selenium, Vitamin D and zinc.
When to See a Healthcare Provider
A visit with a healthcare provider at the earliest signs of excessive hair loss is the first step in diagnosing and treating the root of the problem. You may be experiencing menopausal hair loss, or it could be asign of a nutrient deficiency, oxidative stress or inflammation within the body.
You may also have an underlying condition like anemia causing your thinning hair. Your doctor may suggest tests to measure thyroid function or make stress and dietary assessments to rule out other obstacles to women’s health.
If you’re experiencing scalp or skin issues along with your hair loss, a dermatologist can also help you. There could be a variety of causes behind how your hair grows, so a personalized approach is always best.
For Individualized Health Support, Anytime
Treating the symptoms of menopause can feel impossible. At Sano Health Club, we want to help you navigate your body’s changes in a healthier, more holistic way.
Schedule a discovery call with a care team member today to learn about our practice and how we treat menopause symptoms. We’ll share information about what we do and how we do it, including health club memberships that get to the root cause of your issues.
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