Menopause is a time of changes, some good and some not so good. One of the most distressing problems that a woman can experience is hair loss after menopause. As a physician, I have seen the impact it can have on the sense of well-being of women. After all, a man who is losing his hair still looks masculine, while it is less socially acceptable for women to have hair loss. Needless to say, it can have a major impact on self-esteem of a woman. That's why most women with this problem are desperately searching for answers.
Hair loss after menopause is not uncommon
About one-third of women suffer hair loss, to an extent that after passing through the change of life. The most common cause of hair loss in men is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness. This is a frequent cause of hair loss that typically has a genetic component as well as the environment.
Women may also have androgenic alopecia. In women, we call this female-pattern baldness, and is often related to hormonal fluctuations that occur around the time of menopause, particularly an increase in androgens. Women who have this type of hair loss usually have family members who also experienced hair loss.
When men have androgenetic alopecia, which usually comes from your hairline recede and may experience loss of hair on the back of your scalp. With women, it is usually more subtle and diffuse across the scalp, and not on a single point - although I have seen women with a strong family history of baldness baldness develop an experience similar to that of men. Often the first warning sign women is an extension of you or more hair than usual in your brush. It is not uncommon to lose 100-150 hairs per day. More than that should raise a red flag.
Other causes of female hair loss
When you see a woman who is losing her hair, you have to ask why. Female pattern baldness is not always standard, especially if there is no family history of hair loss. Other medical conditions that are more common at the time of menopause can cause hair loss as well. One of the most common that I've seen in practice is hypothyroidism, or under-active thyroid. Women with an under-active thyroid often experience hair loss and gradual thinning. May notice more hair on your brush or comb when, and can leave your hair in your hands when doing the washing. They may have other symptoms as well - less energy, gradual weight gain, dry and flaky skin, sensitivity to cold, constipation, or memory problems. These signs can be very subtle and many women simply assume that they are a normal part of menopause.
The hair loss may also be caused by nutritional deficiencies, especially of low levels of iron deficiency called a B vitamin biotin. I've seen women go on crash diets and experience hair loss, and is also common in people with anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.
Other medical conditions that cause hair loss are autoimmune diseases and syphilis. Stress can do it too. Stress can take many forms - a recent surgery or illness can cause hair loss. That is why it is important that your doctor do blood tests to check for other causes of hair loss. Some medications can also be the cause, especially cancer chemotherapy drugs.
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