During menopause, a faction of women could experience hair loss, among other typical symptoms like hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and mood swings. Generally, about 40% of women go through hair loss during menopause. Fortunately, it’s not a permanent issue, and there are natural and clinical remedies to revitalize hair growth. This article will help you understand what causes menopause hair loss and what you can do to prevent it.
See 9 Best Herbal Supplements For Menopause and 8 Common Signs Of Hormonal Imbalances
What is Menopause?
Menopause is a point in a woman’s life that marks the end of fertility. It’s characterized by a natural cessation in the menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months.
Most people experience menopause between 45 to 52 years; however, some may experience it early or late. According to experts, about 1 percent of women start their menopause at 40, often referred to as premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency.
The cessation of monthly menstruation is due to a decline in reproductive hormones. A decline in these hormones can cause imbalances that may present with various symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain, and vaginal dryness, among others.
What is Menopause Hair Loss?
Menopause hair loss is a type of hair loss that occurs in women during or after menopause due to hormonal changes such as decreased estrogen and progesterone levels.
Usually, these hormones help hair grow faster and prevent hair loss. Additionally, when the levels of these hormones drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner.
Moreover, a decrease in these hormones also triggers an increase in the production of androgens (hormones that play a role in male traits and reproductive activity like testosterone). Also, androgens tend to shrink hair follicles, leading to hair loss, especially on the head.
Conversely, there are cases where these hormones stimulate more hair growth on the face. As such, this explains why some menopausal women develop facial hair, also known as peach fuzz, and tiny sprouts of hair on their chins.
What Are the Symptoms of Menopause Hair Loss?
Several symptoms can indicate signs of menopause hair loss. They include the following.
Generally, menopause is a natural process affecting women as they age, and several changes in hormone levels often accompany it. Among the most noticeable symptoms of menopause hair loss is thinning hair on the scalp.
Research has shown that hair thinning results from the shrinking of hair follicles, leading to decreased hair thickness and volume. As such, women may experience visual hair loss, especially on the crown or on top of the head.
Another common symptom of menopause hair loss is excessive hair shedding. During menopause, women tend to experience increased hair shedding, leading to visible hair loss.
A recent study has shown that hair shedding as a result of hormonal changes also shrinks the hair follicles and produces fewer and finer hairs.
Changes in hair texture
During menopause, women may experience changes in their hair beyond just hair thinning and excessive shedding. They may also experience changes in hair texture.
Generally, changes in the hair texture can cause the hair to appear dry, brittle, and frizzy, making it look and feel different. Furthermore, this can lead to developing hair that is harder to manage, style, and maintain, which can cause it to shade unnecessarily.
Slow hair growth
Generally, hormonal changes during menopause can slow down hair growth. This is due to the decreased production of estrogen levels. Contrastingly, testosterone production usually increases, thus causing the hair to become thinner and less voluminous, leading to overall slow hair growth.
Even though slow hair growth can be a gradual process and difficult to notice in the early stages, it becomes more noticeable with time as hair loss and thinning become more pronounced.
Patches of baldness
Some women may experience patches of baldness during menopause, especially at the front hairline. Again, this is due to low levels of estrogens and androgens that may cause a reduction in hair volume in certain areas.
Notably, another noticeable menopause-related hair loss occurrence is a receding hairline. Usually, this condition can be visible when the hairline moves backward while creating an “M” or “V” shape, especially towards the crown of the head. Typically, a receding hairline begins gradually, but with time, it may become a concern for several women.
What Causes Menopause Hair Loss?
1. Hormonal imbalances
As mentioned above, during menopause, estrogen and other essential hormone levels in the body tend to fluctuate and decrease. This hormonal shift can cause hair thinning and loss since estrogen helps regulate the growth cycle of hair follicles.
On the other hand, increased levels of androgens, or male hormones, contribute greatly to hair loss, as they can shrink hair follicles and cause them to produce finer, shorter hairs.
Physical and emotional stress can substantially impact hair health, causing hair to fall out in a condition known as telogen effluvium. Generally, telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that occurs when many hair follicles enter the resting phase of the growth cycle, causing hair to shed, especially for women during menopause. Typically, this condition can be triggered by physical or emotional stressors such as a major illness or a traumatic life event and can last for several months.
Usually, during menopause, women may experience increased stress levels due to physical and emotional changes such as relationships, work demands, and overall lifestyle, which can intensify hair loss.
Hereditary hair loss is a common cause of hair thinning or a receding hairline, especially during menopause. Research has also shown that women with a family history of hair loss are more likely to experience it themselves, especially during menopause when hormonal imbalances occur.
Different genetic conditions can contribute to this issue, including androgenic alopecia. This is actually the most common. It occurs due to a combination of both genetics and hormonal factors.
It results in a well-defined pattern of hair loss that starts as a widening at the center, leaving the front hairline untouched. While there is no medication for genetic defects that prevents hair loss, some medications may help improve symptoms.
4. Nutritional deficiencies
Overly, a diet lacking essential nutrients, such as iron and vitamins like vitamins B12, and D, can lead to hair loss during menopause.
Lack of iron inhibits hemoglobin production, which plays an important role in hair growth. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to the hair cells. This helps repair damaged cells, which helps stimulate their health and growth.
So, the best thing you can do when dealing with hair loss during menopause is to increase your iron intake. Best sources include lentils, chickpeas, beans, hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and kale.
Vitamin B12 is another nutrient deficiency that can cause hair loss during menopause. This is because vitamin B12 nourishes the hair follicles by boosting red-blood-cell production. Vitamin B12 also strengthens and conditions your hair, making it strong and less likely to break.
Finally, vitamin D is another important nutrient that can contribute to hair loss when lacking. Research even shows that vitamin D deficiency may lead to alopecia areate, a condition that causes hair to fall out in patches causing baldness.
5. Medical conditions
Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, can cause hair loss. Generally, autoimmune diseases can cause the body to attack its hair follicles, causing hair to fall out.
Additionally, other medical conditions such as thyroid disorders, skin conditions, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and fungal infections can cause hair loss.
Moreover, medications used to treat the above-mentioned medical conditions can cause hair loss due to side effects. An excellent example includes medicines used to treat autoimmune disorders, such as methotrexate and cyclosporine, which can cause hair loss.
Similarly, medications used to treat skin conditions, such as topical corticosteroids, can also cause hair loss. In these cases, switching to a different medication or adjusting the dosage may be necessary to minimize hair loss.
Effective Ways to Prevent Hair loss during menopause
1. Limit stress
Hormonal changes during menopause can cause mood swings and anxiety, making stress management necessary for overall well-being, not just for healthy hair.
Therefore, strive to incorporate daily stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or physical exercise, to calm your nervous system.
Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, getting enough sleep, and seeking support from loved ones or a mental health professional can aid in reducing stress during this period.
2. Be gentle with your hair
You should always be gentle with your hair, but when it comes to menopause, your hair is more susceptible to breakage and hair loss, so you may want to be extra gentle during this period.
Generally, avoid wearing tight hairstyles that can damage the hair follicles. You can also use nourishing shampoo and conditioner to keep your scalp healthy.
Furthermore, wearing a hat when walking under the sun can protect your hair from UV damage. Additionally, avoid using heat-styling tools such as flat irons and curling wands since they can damage your hair by weakening it or making it brittle. Instead, go for gentler hair care practices to maintain healthy hair during menopause.
3. Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
HRT is a medical treatment that involves replacing hormones to alleviate symptoms of menopause. Usually, HRT can be administered as pills, patches, gels, or creams and may contain hormones estrogen, progesterone, or a combination of the two.
Even though HRT has the potential to reduce or stop hair loss, in some cases, it can be hard to guarantee its effectiveness. This is because hair loss may still occur despite undergoing this treatment, and results may vary from person to person.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water can help lubricate and cushion your joints, carry nutrients and oxygen to the cells, aid digestion, flush out bacteria from your bladder, prevent constipation, and promote healthy skin and hair.
To promote optimum hydration, aid for 8-12 glasses of water depending on your daily activities and environmental temperature.
You can also eat foods rich in water content such as watermelon, oranges, and celery.
5. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil can help prevent hair loss during menopause.
Additionally, taking Vitamin B6-rich teas such as chamomile and fennel tea can help restore hair growth. Also, essential fatty acids from foods like almonds, flaxseed, chia, and pumpkin seeds tuna benefit hair health.
6. Choose foods that are rich in phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. When consumed, they produce the same effects as estrogen. This makes them a great replacement for the natural estrogen that has declined with menopause.
Thus, phytoestrogen behaves and produces the same effects as estrogen, which can help improve various symptoms associated with estrogen decline during menopause.
Best sources include soy and soy products, flax, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, oats, and mung beans.
7. Get plenty of protein.
Hair follicles are mostly made up of protein. It’s no wonder it’s an essential nutrient in hair growth.
Best sources include legumes like lentils and beans, nuts like walnuts and almonds, seeds like hemp seeds, chia, sesame seeds, and whole grains.
For your hair to grow, it needs oxygen and other nutrients. When you exercise, you increase blood flow to the scalp, which then promotes nutrient delivery to the hair follicles, leading to healthy hair growth.
In addition, exercise promotes better sleep and improved mood, both of which can enhance hormonal control leading to better hair health.
Menopause is a natural decline in reproductive hormones characterized by menstruation cessation for 12 consecutive months.
Menopause hair loss is the loss of hair during this period associated with an imbalance in female reproductive hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, with an increase in the male hormone testosterone.
Some symptoms to watch out for include thinning, slow hair growth, patches of baldness, excessive shading, and receding hairline.
While this type of hair loss may sometimes be inevitable, there’re a few things you can do to improve the condition, including limiting stress, being gentle with your hair, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated.
In case your symptoms are persistent and nothing seems to help, seek professional help.
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