Hair loss is when more hair falls out in the shower or left behind on your pillowcase. The hair on your head may start to feel thin or look bald in spots, and it might come out while brushing.
Menopausal hair loss results from hormonal changes, particularly a decrease in estrogen and progesterone that support thick hair. Simultaneously, male hormones like androgens, including testosterone, become more influential, potentially causing hair loss (or, in some cases, hair growth). Additional factors like stress, illness, poor diet, and nutrient deficiencies can also contribute to menopausal hair loss.
Female pattern hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia, is influenced by androgen hormones that play a role in shrinking hair follicles, leading to thinner hairs and quicker hair loss. Androgens shorten the growth phase of individual hairs and delay their regrowth, affecting the normal hair cycle.
Minoxidil: A common treatment for female pattern hair loss is 5% minoxidil foam, also known as Rogaine, approved by the FDA. It is also used to treat hair loss in men, with generic versions available. Application to the scalp daily shows improvement after 3-4 months, though not effective for everyone. While generally safe, mild side effects like skin irritation may occur.
Other anti-androgen drugs: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, drugs including finasteride, flutamide, and dutasteride are sometimes prescribed off-label to treat female pattern hair loss.
Nutraceuticals: Nutraceuticals, food-derived compounds with potential physiological benefits, are sold as supplements. Limited research exists on their effects on female hair loss. A 2021 study on Nutrafol showed promising early results, indicating it may safely improve hair quality and reduce shedding.
Laser therapy: Consult a dermatologist to assess the suitability of laser therapy for your hair loss. Laser treatments, available in various forms like caps and combs, use low-level light to stimulate hair growth. Research on laser therapy is limited, but the American Academy of Dermatology suggests it may promote thicker, fuller hair growth in certain individuals.
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A study published in 2022 in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, showed that female pattern hair loss affected 52.2% of healthy postmenopausal women, and 60% of women with hair loss experienced low self-esteem due to the condition.
Research published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology in 2021 showed that treatment with the nutraceutical Nutrafol decreased hair shedding by 32.4% after 180 days.
A presentation at the 2021 annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society suggested that treatments including minoxidil, finasteride, and platelet-rich plasma injections show promise in addressing female pattern hair loss.