We hear so much about the hot flashes and mood swings that come with the arrival of menopause, but another very common side effect of the hormonal changes happening in your body is hair loss.
As women, we spend countless hours in the salon getting our body hair waxed, lasered, plucked and shaved off. Then, for many of us, the tables turn (generally in our early 50s) when we mysteriously start seeing more and more hair on our brushes and bathroom floors.
According to the American Hair Loss Society (yes, that exists) forty percent of those who suffer from hair loss are women. That means a significant chunk of the one billion dollars spent annually on hair treatments costs us (literally) millions of dollars. Unsurprisingly, most of treatments are ineffective.
But don’t lose hope! There are things you can do to mitigate the extent of hair loss during menopause.
Before we dive into the how-to of caring for yourself and your hair so that it stays healthy, happy and full for decades to come, let’s have a quick look at what exactly is happening in your body during menopause as well as why this causes thinning and loss of hair in a large percentage of women.
MENOPAUSE AND HAIR LOSS: CONTRIBUTING FACTORS
As women age, the ratio of estrogen-to-testosterone in their bodies decreases. This leaves us with fewer hormones that yield healthy hair, and more hormones that cause thinning and balding.
Hair loss in women, just like in men, can be hereditary. The severity of hormonal changes on female hair thinning during menopause is, in part, determined by genetic predisposition. That means that the change in estrogen-to-testosterone ratio in one woman can have a dramatically different effect than in another.
All of this is a good enough reason to stay up to date on your visits to the doctor and make sure that you are keeping the lines of communication open with your practitioner…especially if thinning hair is something you are worried about.
This is a common one, and perhaps one of the most difficult to avoid…but it’s worth a shot! Elevated levels of stress drain you of energy your body could otherwise spend on useful things (like transporting nutrients around your body to grow your hair).
Keeping your stress levels in check is a great first step to making sure your body has the energy needed to expend on keeping your locks lustrous.
Low levels of iron, lysine, and certain vitamins can exacerbate hair loss in women, but with a proper and well-rounded diet, that’s one less contributing factor. Make sure that you are getting the full checklist of vitamins and minerals with your food. If you find it necessary to put yourself on a weight loss diet, speak to a nutritionist first to make sure that you aren’t depriving your body of the nutrients that it needs to grow your hair.
Where and how you live has an effect on how healthy your hair is. Spending your days in a polluted environment can throw a wrench in your quest for healthy hair post-50, as can dousing your locks in chemical-laden hair dyes or subjecting it to the searing heat of a curling or flattening iron.
HOW TO MAINTAIN HEALTHY HAIR DURING MENOPAUSE
High levels of stress do you no favors when it comes to putting a stop to hair loss during menopause. Instead, get your Zen on with some yoga or meditation. Hormones and anxiety are linked – hormonal imbalances can cause increased levels of anxiety, and anxiety can cause hormonal imbalances. Try to keep both sides of the equation in check by managing your stress levels.
According to the Belgravia Center, stress can lead to diffuse hair loss, which is an even shedding of hair across all areas of the head, as well as telogen effluvium, a temporary hair loss condition. Stress is also linked to decreased immune system health, illness, thyroid problems, and anemia…all of which can contribute to increased hair loss.
Eat right and sleep well
As part of the overall theme here…take care of yourself! Your body functions best when it’s treated best. Make sure you have enough vitamins and nutrients in your system so that it functions properly and can regenerate hair at normal rates.
In addition to reducing stress, getting a scalp massage can increase circulation and blood flow to the area, which makes it easier for your body to transport valuable nutrients to your hair.
You aren’t alone!
Talk to your primary care physician and check out your options if you are suffering from premature hair loss. Oftentimes a hormonal imbalance or lifestyle condition that contributes to hair loss can be identified and rectified by a qualified specialist.
There is nothing abnormal about hair loss during menopause. In fact, thinning and shedding of hair in women over 50 is extremely common. Make sure your diet, exercise, and stress levels are under control in order to mitigate any genetic predisposition to excessive hair loss during menopause.
If you are concerned about the rate of your hair loss or want more information about what is normal in terms of menopausal hair loss, please consult your primary care physician about treatment and prevention options. You can also check out the resources below.
American Hair Loss Clinic:
34 Menopause Symptoms: