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Hair loss due to menopause
It is estimated that eight out of 10 women in the UK experience symptoms leading up to the menopause and nearly half find their symptoms difficult to deal with. Symptoms can be wide ranging from insomnia and anxiety to hot flushes and night sweats, impacting lifestyle and relationships. Although most people wouldn’t automatically think of hair loss as a menopausal symptom, it is widely recognized that a massive 40 percent of women experience hair thinning or hair loss to some degree during and after menopause.
Hair loss during or directly after menopause is typically as result of fluctuating hormone levels. Two main hormones are involved in hair growth: estrogen and testosterone. During menopause, levels of female hormones (estrogen) reduce, resulting in the effects of male hormones (androgen) becoming more prominent in the body, which causes hair follicles to thin and eventually fall out. Estrogen helps a woman’s hair to grow quickly and remain on the head longer before being shed – that’s why pregnant women boast thicker, fuller heads of hair – it’s all that estrogen! But a menopausal woman is losing estrogen, making it more difficult for her body to grow hair the same way it used to.
Dr Sophie Shotter shares with us how the menopause can affect hair.
There are four stages in the hair growth cycle including the growing stage (anagen), the resting stage (telogen), the shedding stage (transitional) and the new hair growth phase (exogen). As estrogen works to keep the hair in the growing phase, the reduction in estrogen will cause the hair growth cycle to shorten and therefore the hair thins and sheds. In addition to hormone effects causing hair loss during menopause there are additional factors, which can increase the risk of hair loss including stress and genetics. In general, hair loss due to menopause is not permanent and can be reversed.
Doctor Justine Hextall, Consultant Dermatologist recommends Viviscal supplements to her patients. She explains:
“There are many causes of hair loss as we get older and these may also coincide with the menopause. At the time of menopause we see fluctuating hormone levels. This can sometimes cause heavy menstrual bleeding and this can cause anaemia and low iron stores. Low iron is a common cause of hair loss. Oestrogen levels also fall at this time. As a consequence we often see changes in the hair cycle with hair in the growth phase and more in the resting or falling phase. Women may not use the term hair loss per se but describe their hair as appearing, thinner, finer, and less glossy” She continues: “In menopause also we have relatively higher levels of testosterone and specifically the active form of Dyhidrotestosterone ( DHT).
This attaches to the hair receptors stimulating again more hair to enter the resting and falling (telogen) stage as opposed to growth (anagen) phase. It also makes the hair follicles themselves smaller, as a consequence hair is finer and hair loss occurs. Coinciding with menopause Women often present with thyroid abnormalities, usually an underactive thyroid which will cause hair loss.
So in summary it may be the interplay of many factors that causes hair thinning as we get older. Active intervention at an early stage is recommended. It is easier to slow and hopefully prevent hair loss than reverse more established change. Supplements like Viviscal can help promote healthy hair growth.”