Women and Hair Loss – What Your Hair is Telling You about Your Hormones
Life stressors can make you feel like pulling your hair out –but the stress of losing your hair can’t be solved this way! Interestingly, one of the primary triggers of hair loss is stress. Your lifestyle, hormone changes, what you eat and genetic make-up are other triggers for hair loss. It’s a common assumption that hair loss only affects men but it affects women also.
Women and Hair Loss
For women, hair loss can be especially upsetting. Having long healthy hair is glamorized in society as a sign of youth and beauty plus it’s an expression of personality and style. The common ways men deal with hair loss such as wearing hats, shaving their entire head as a fashion statement, or growing a beard to draw attention away from the top of their head won’t work for women.
Many women first notice their hair falling out in the shower or in their hairbrush. It’s normal to have some hair loss every day so seeing hair in your brush is no reason to be alarmed. When women see a noticeable amount of hair falling out, the widening of their part, a receding hairline or their hair volume (or pony tail) seems to be thinner then it may be time to investigate the cause.
Common Causes of Hair Loss
Many types of drugs can cause hair loss. Chemotherapy medications are the obvious ones, but drugs that treat conditions such as acne, depression, high blood pressure, and more also cause hair loss. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if hair loss is a side effect of your medication. The good thing is that your hair will typically grow back in once you stop taking these medications.
Dramatic or Sudden Weight Loss
A crash diet or even weight loss surgery can trigger hair loss. Many fad diets are so restrictive that your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs which leads to a vitamin deficiency. Not getting enough zinc, iron or protein in your diet can cause hair loss – especially if you are a vegetarian or if you have heavier than normal periods you may experience low iron. Your body needs these nutrients to sustain itself and will send these nutrients to body areas that need them the most – with your hair not “considered” necessary for survival. A change in diet or taking supplements can help with hair loss but you should consult your doctor with the best approach regarding supplements.
Harsh Chemicals or Hair Styling
Bleach, dyes and harsh chemicals can cause your hair to break off at the ends or even fall out. Tight hair styles like pony tails, up dos or cornrows can irritate your scalp and also cause your hair to fall out. You can prevent hair loss by being gentle with your hair when brushing and styling it. Avoiding high heat when straightening or curling your hair will also help your hair remain healthier.
High doses of stress affect both your mind and body in multiple ways. For one, it can cause sudden weight loss which is a cause of hair loss. Second, stress can push hair follicles into a “resting phase” where they don’t produce new hair strands and can also fall out easier. When under extreme stress, the body’s immune system can attack hair follicles causing a condition called alopecia areata. Stress is normally thought of as emotional strain but a surgery or an infection can also put stress on your body and lead to temporary hair loss.
Hormones and Hair Loss
Women in child bearing years can experience hair loss after having a baby because of the changes in hormones that occur during and after pregnancy. Add to that the extra stress and sleep deprivation from having a new baby and you have a double whammy for possible hair loss. During pregnancy your hair will frequently thicken because of the pregnancy hormones. Once the baby is born the hair loss is typically just getting back to its pre-pregnancy state and will return to normal.
A low level of thyroid hormones, called hypothyroidism, is a leading cause of hair loss. Low levels of thyroid reduce the body’s ability to regenerate cells. Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease are two autoimmune diseases that can cause hair loss. Hashimoto’s is the result of low thyroid and Grave’s disease is responsible for over active thyroid, or hyperthyroidism.
Hair loss can also be triggered by hormone changes that occur during menopause. During menopause women’s estrogen and progesterone levels drop causing hair to grow more slowly and become thinner. In addition to keeping your bones strong, estrogen and progesterone keep your hair healthy. A decrease in these hormones causes an increase in androgen production which causes hair follicles to shrink and contribute to hair loss.
Bioidentical hormone therapy can help with thinning hair for hair loss that is caused by hormonal imbalances. Bringing estrogen and progesterone levels back into balance contributes to a decrease in hair loss and can improve hair density. Bioidentical hormonesare identical to the hormones which are produced naturally in your body. They are so identical, in fact, that your body can’t distinguish the difference. These hormones are easily assimilated into the body and your body recognizes them as their own which reduces side effects or potential risks.