Most people know the symptoms that affect women during menopause including hot flashes and mood changes. However, not everyone realises that hair loss, specifically alopecia, is common during menopause. In fact, Alopecia UK estimates that 50% of women aged 65 and over experience female pattern hair loss (the most common type of hair loss).
For many women during this time, hair loss is intrinsically connected to self-esteem. That’s why we’ve taken a deeper dive into the subject to help you better understand the connection between menopause and hair loss, and how to deal with it.
What is menopause?
Menopause occurs when your periods stop permanently, and you can no longer become pregnant. This is due to the decreased production of progesterone and estrogen, typically happening between the ages of 45 and 55, according to the NHS.
Of course, this is different for everyone, and it can sometimes naturally occur earlier. Surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy), cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, and genetics can also be reasons for earlier menopause.
Perimenopause is the first stage of menopause and this is when you have symptoms before your periods have stopped. You may experience symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, hot flashes, anxiety, and you guessed it — hair loss.
It can take years before your period completely stops, at which point, you will have entered the menopause stage.
Can menopause cause hair loss?
The short answer is yes — perimenopausal and menopausal hair loss is common. It occurs slowly, with some women noticing their hair thinning, falling out in the shower, or their parting beginning to widen.
Why does hair loss occur during menopause?
Hair loss around menopause is likely to be caused by hormonal changes and the decreased production of progesterone and estrogen. These hormones play a big role in hair growth, so hair may begin to grow slower and thinner when they decrease. This may also promote an increase of androgens (male hormones), causing the hair follicles to shrink. This can lead to hair loss in women.
Where might hair loss occur?
Menopausal hair loss can also occur in other parts of the body, as well as on the head. Some women notice their hair growth slows or stops on their arms and legs.
Does hair return to normal after menopause?
The good news is that menopause-related hair loss often does slow and eventually stops with time. That being said, regrowth is unpredictable and can take years, but some things can help the body along. Following a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress, and using lotions that contain minoxidil can improve hair loss.
Other causes of hair loss for women during menopause
Although menopause may be the cause, it is important to remember that there are lots of factors that contribute to hair loss in women.
Other causes of female hair loss include:
- Stress — Going through a stressful experience can interrupt hair growth, resulting in hair loss.
- Genetics — Conditions such as female pattern baldness, which affects 40% of women over 70 in the UK, are heavily influenced by your genetic makeup. If women in your family have experienced hair loss, it may explain yours too.
- Hairstyle — Tight hairstyles such as braids or ponytails can pull on your roots, damaging the hair follicles. This can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia.
- Health — Your general health has an impact on your hair. Poor diet and lack of exercise could be a reason why your hair is thinning or falling out.
- Medical conditions — Hair loss can be a side effect of conditions such as lupus and anaemia.
- Other hormonal changes — This could be pregnancy, childbirth, or a result of taking birth control.
How to treat menopausal hair loss
If you are experiencing hair loss at any point in your life, it is important to speak with your GP as soon as possible for guidance. That way, the possible cause can be identified.
Some treatments or lifestyle changes to fix menopausal hair loss that may be advised include:
Stress and anxiety can make menopausal hair loss worse. Of course, women can take measures to avoid it. Doing activities such as breathing exercises and yoga can help reduce stress, improving hair loss.
Hair loss medication
A proven treatment for hair loss is minoxidil, which is added to shampoo or lotion. Many women have seen improvement, often noticing thicker hair and the slowing or stopping altogether of balding. However, before starting any treatments, it is important to speak to a GP for advice.
Although exercise isn’t a proven treatment to ease symptoms of menopause, it is a contributing factor to a healthy body. Regular exercise is also proven to reduce stress, according to the NHS. Therefore, keeping yourself as relaxed and healthy as possible will help reduce hair loss during menopause.
Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet can get all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. This plays a big role in the health of our hair. Eating foods that are rich in iron, fatty acids, and vitamin D may help reduce menopause symptoms, including hair loss.
Although it won’t fix menopausal hair loss, wearing a wig can help you feel most like yourself. Today, wigs can be customised to suit you perfectly, improving your confidence.
It’s not easy, but come to terms with your hair loss and find confidence in it. Discussing with your family and friends early on can help them understand how you feel and what kind of support you need.
Be reassured that most menopause-related hair loss does slow with time.
Treating menopausal hair loss with a hair transplant
If you are looking for a permanent solution to hair loss, transplant surgery can be very effective. The results of a hair transplant have shown to have a significant positive effect on a patient’s confidence, boosting self-esteem.
Types of hair transplant for women
There are two types of hair transplant available for women including Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transfer (FUT).
The alternative method to FUT is FUE. The back of the head is shaved and follicular units are removed individually with a tool called a micro punch. These units are then placed into tiny incisions on the scalp. You may be left with pin-point scars on your scalp, but these are so small that they’re almost unnoticeable to the human eye.
This process involves removing a thin strip of skin from the back of the head and removing follicular units directly from the strip. Each follicular unit contains one to four individual hairs, and these are placed into tiny incisions made on the scalp. This method may result in a thin linear scare, however, this is unlikely to be visible.
Choose FUE Clinics for your hair transplant
While menopausal hair loss is nothing to be ashamed of, hair transplants can improve confidence in women and provide a permanent solution. Find out more about what hair transplants are available for women and whether you are a suitable candidate.
If you think a women’s hair transplant is the right next step for you — or you just want to learn more — get in touch today or book a free consultation with one of our specialists. Or, head over to our FAQs for more information.