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Medical & Non-Medical Approaches to Menopause-Related Hair Loss
It can start with the realization that your hair seems limp or less voluminous than before, the discovery of inexplicable patchiness along the eyebrows, or the sudden and perplexing sprouting of stray hairs along the face. A quick search online stirs the first pangs of panic: I might be losing my hair. Experiencing hair loss symptoms related to menopause can be scary, but understand that there are a variety of medical and non-medical treatment options available and that you’re certainly not alone. The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) estimates the 50% of all women in their fifties will experience some hair loss as a result of hormonal changes related to aging and menopause. Read on to find out ways to minimize or even reverse the loss and cope with your changing body.
Causes and Identification
While lower estrogen is often blamed for many undesirable effects of menopause, the hormone progesterone is more closely linked with hair loss symptoms. When ovulation cycles end levels of progesterone fall, prompting your body to increase its production of the adrenal cortical steroid androstenedione to make up for it. Androstenedione is more abundant in males and thus plays a factor in the growth of facial hair and androgenic alopecia, also known as pattern baldness. Experts say that women actually experience androgenic alopecia at the same rates as men, but its effects are muted, typically resulting in a general thinning rather than progressive baldness. If you happened to experience a significant physical or emotional trauma three months prior to symptom arrival, you may have alopecia areata, a form of patchy hair loss that is usually temporary. As with hair loss symptoms at any age, it’s important to get a check-up with a doctor to rule out other possible causes such as lupus, syphilis, thyroid issues, or ovarian tumors.
Have your primary physician conduct a thorough investigation into your energy levels, diet, sleep patterns, and family history to ensure that the source of hair loss is uncovered prior to discussing treatment options. Many doctors prescribe a short-term dose of estrogen to see if boosting the hormone will cause hair shedding to abate. A 2% solution of topical minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, may be prescribed, and the androgen-blocking, anti-dandruff shampoo Nizoral is also a popular option deemed safe for women. Depending on your medical profile low-dose steroids or the glucose-balancing drug metformin may be prescribed as well. These drugs range in efficacy and carry the potential for side effects, so make sure you do your research before settling on a treatment plan. Hair transplant surgery is also available for women with advanced thinning or aversion to body chemistry-altering medications.
Since symptoms are mostly related to fluctuating hormone levels, you can aid the treatment of menopause-related hair loss simply by taking better care of your body. Losing weight, taking a daily supplement of B6, drinking green tea, and using scalp-boosting hyaluronic acid shampoos all have the potential to restore balance to your system and slow or resolve thinning hair over time. One the biggest and most controllable factors in every case of hair loss is stress. Take time to sit down with a paper and pencil and identify the major stressors in your life then brainstorm ways to eliminate them. Try to make room in your life for healthy stress outlets such as exercise, yoga, or mediation; and even though you may be embarrassed, let the most important people in your life know what’s going on so that they might offer support and relieve you from bearing the secret alone.
However you choose to treat your condition, realize that what you’re going through is common and in no way a reflection of your femininity. If you’re interested in getting a professional opinion on your treatment options, contact us today. Hair Loss Specialists can schedule you a private consultation with one of our esteemed hair restoration experts in a city near you.