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Six main causes of female hair loss and how to treat them

WOMEN can lose their hair for reasons including menopause and an overactive thyroid. breaks down the different forms of hairless and what you can do to prevent it.

A woman combs her hair

Women can lose their hair for reasons including menopause and an overactive thyroid

Although it is far more common for men to lose their hair, women can also begin to lose their own crowning glories.

After giving birth, reaching menopause years or experiencing other hormonal imbalances, it’s not uncommon for women to start losing their hair.

One of the most common causes of hair loss in women is a change in hormone levels.

Fortunately, hair loss in women is usually a temporary state of affairs which can be relatively easy to diagnose and treat.

Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga, Hair Transplant Surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, outlines how different hormonal issues can cause hair loss and  some of the treatment options.

1. Overactive Thyroid

An over active thyroid can trigger a condition called Telogen Effluvium, which changes the hair growth cycle and can result in the thinning of the hair.

Treatment Options:

There are several treatment options available for this condition, including an antithyroid medication treatment, surgery or radioactive iodine.

However, in order to ensure the correct treatment is prescribed it is important that the patient is assessed by their doctor who will explore the severity of the disorder, the patient’s age and many other factors.

A older woman combs her hair

One of the most common causes of hair loss in women is a change in hormone levels

2. Too much Testosterone

Women with higher than normal levels of testosterone, such as women who have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), are more likely to experience male-patterned baldness.

This condition is not very common in women because they have higher levels of oestrogen, which helps to balance out the effects of the male hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) a potent form of testosterone that normally leads to hair loss.

Women who produce high levels of male hormones, however, have increased testosterone levels which can convert to DHT, thereby increasing their chances of losing their hair.

Treatment Options:

The treatment for this condition very much depends on an individuals’ case. It may involve oral contraceptives that contain oestrogen and progesterone, metformine, spironolactone, a pill supplement of progesterone or glucocorticosteroids. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and losing weight can also help.

3. Hyper – Oestrogen

Progesterone and oestrogen are two dominant female hormones necessary to prepare the uterus for menstruation, however, there are optimal levels in which the hormones should be produced.

When progesterone levels are too low, it can lead to the condition of hyper-oestrogen or oestrogen dominance which can trigger excessive hair shedding and ultimately hair loss.

Caffeine shampoo may NOT be good for hair growth

Treatment Options:

In these cases I would usually recommend a transdermal 2% bioindentical progesterone cream be applied. I would also advise the patient to increase nutrients in the diet by eating a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and protein etc. It is also important to decrease stress and get a lot of exercise.

4. Stress

Stress can cause hair loss in different ways. In particular it can lead to the build-up of acid-free radicals, which contribute to gradual hair loss. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to changes in hormonal levels, which can also lead to hair loss. Conditions such as trichotillomania (pulling of the hair) are associated with stress. Megan Fox and Victoria Beckham have both both admitted to suffering with this condition.

A woman pulls hair from a hair brush

Fortunately, hair loss in women is usually a temporary state

Treatment Options:

The good news here is that is that not all stress-related hair loss is permanent. It is important to find the cause of any stress or anxiety firstly, as that will allow the patient to tackle it correctly.

This, in most cases, in itself reduces the level of stress related hair loss and allows the lost hair to regrow.  It is important to note, however, that your hair loss may not be solely stress related and could also be the result of an underlying medical condition. For this reason, it is always important to consult your GP.

5. Menopause

Unlike men, women are protected from hair loss by oestrogen. After the menopause, oestrogen levels drop and therefore most women experience some degree of thinning post menopause. Hair loss which occurs before this, however, can be the result of any of the above factors and can occur at any time.

Treatment Options:

There are a number of medical treatments that can help reduce hair loss during or after the menopause. These include a specially compounded prescription minoxidil solution, prostaglandin analogs, low-level laser therapy, off-label finasteride (for post-menopausal women only) and nutritional supplements.

6. Pregnancy and Childbirth

Pregnancy and childbirth are known to alter a woman’s hormonal balance which in turn can lead to temporary hair loss.Treatment Options:In most cases the hair will start to re-grow naturally after about 90 days of giving birth and if the hair growth doesn’t return to normal after about a year, it is worth seeing your GP or a trichologist to check for other underlying causes.

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