Menopause is a natural process that all women experience as they age. It usually occurs around age 50, when the ovaries stop producing eggs and estrogen levels decline. This can cause a variety of physical and emotional changes, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. One common but often overlooked symptom of menopause is hair loss.
Hair loss is very subtle at first and can be easy to miss. It may start with a few extra strands on your hairbrush or in the shower drain. Or you may notice your part widening or hair thinning on the crown of your head. If you’re seeing any of these changes, it’s important to see your doctor rule out other possible causes, such as thyroid problems or iron deficiency.
Studies suggest that menopausal hair loss can occur in up to two-thirds of menopausal women. It’s thought to be caused by a combination of hormonal changes and aging. As estrogen levels decline, the hair follicles may miniaturize, causing the hair to become thinner and more brittle. This process is called androgenetic alopecia or “female pattern baldness.”
Although menopausal hair loss in women is often related to hormonal changes, it can also be a side effect of certain medications used to treat other menopausal symptoms. These include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Blood pressure medications, such as beta-blockers
- Birth control pills
Other factors can contribute to hair loss, such as:
- Poor diet
- Hairstyling habits
- Medical conditions, such as autoimmune disorders
The most common symptom of menopausal hair loss is thinning hair. This can occur all over the head or be more noticeable in certain areas, such as the crown or temples. You may also notice your hair is finer in texture and breaks more easily.
Your hair loss may be gradual at first, but it can progress to the point where you’re losing large clumps of hair. In severe cases, you may end up with patchy bald spots.
There are many lifestyle habits you can opt to keep your locks healthy and strong while going through menopause.
Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Your body will thank you for it in many ways, including keeping your hair healthy. Exercise helps by promoting circulation and keeping your hormone levels in check. It also helps combat other menopausal symptoms that can lead to hair loss, such as stress and anxiety.
A well-balanced diet is important for overall health, including your hair. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can help keep your locks strong and healthy. Avoid processed foods and too much sugar, as these can contribute to inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Drinking green tea or taking a multivitamin may also help. Some best vitamins for hair loss due to menopause are biotin, vitamin B6 and C.
Stress can contribute to hair loss, so it’s important to find ways to manage it. Exercise, meditation, and yoga are all great stress-busters. You can also try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or aromatherapy. Make it a priority to get enough sleep, as fatigue can make stress worse.
When shampooing, brushing, or styling your hair, be sure to handle it gently. Yanking or tugging can cause breakage, which can lead to thinning hair. Use a wide-tooth comb or brush, and be especially careful when your hair is wet, as it’s more fragile then. Avoid harsh hairstyles such as tight ponytails or cornrows. Also, limit the use of hot tools such as curling irons and hair dryers.
Drinking plenty of water helps keep your hair hydrated. Aim for eight glasses a day. You can also use a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air. You can also use a hydrating hair mask or oil treatment to give your hair an extra boost of moisture. Look for products that contain natural ingredients such as coconut oil or aloe vera, which are both great for hydration.
If you’re concerned about your hair loss, make an appointment to see your doctor. They can perform tests to rule out other causes of hair loss and help determine the best course of treatment. In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage menopausal hair loss.
There are several treatments available to help manage menopausal hair loss.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a newer treatment that’s showing promise for hair loss. PRP is made from your own blood and contains high levels of platelets, which are cells that promote healing. The therapy involves injecting PRP into the scalp. Some studies have shown that PRP can stimulate hair growth, but more research is needed.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be an option for women who are experiencing hair loss due to menopause. HRT can help manage menopausal symptoms by replacing the hormones that your body is no longer producing. It’s important to speak with your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT before starting treatment.
There are several alternative therapies that have been studied for hair loss, including acupuncture, hypnosis, and aromatherapy. While some people swear by these treatments, there’s currently no scientific evidence to support their use for hair loss.
Laser therapy is another option for treating hair loss. It uses low-level lasers to stimulate blood flow and promote hair growth. The results are usually temporary, and you’ll need to continue treatment to maintain the results. Possible side effects include redness, swelling, and burning.
There are several supplements that have been studied for hair loss, including biotin, iron, and fish oil. While these supplements may help with hair growth for some people, more research is needed to confirm their efficacy. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, as they can interact with medications you may be taking.
Menopause can be a time of upheaval, both emotionally and physically. Hair loss can be a frustrating symptom of menopause, but good lifestyle habits can prove to be helpful. If you’re concerned about your hair loss, talk to your doctor. They can perform tests to rule out other causes and help determine the best course of treatment