Many symptoms associated with menopause or perimenopause are well documented such as hot flushes and fluctuating emotions. One common symptom rarely gets attention though, hair loss or thinning.
Hair loss in menopause is more common than you might think. It’s also more varied than you might think, covering everything from shedding more when brushing to hair thinning in specific areas.
As our hair is such a significant part of our identity, anything that impacts it can be troubling.
That makes it something worth talking about, which is why we’re writing this post.
We are going to cover the how, why and what to do about hair loss and menopause.
We hope this will provide you the information you need to take the next steps and prevent or tackle any hair loss or thinning during menopause.
Symptoms of menopausal hair loss
The symptoms of menopausal hair loss can be slow to manifest and happen over months or years. You may never notice and then suddenly see thinning hair or worse.
Typical symptoms of menopausal hair loss include:
- More hair on your hairbrush, pillow or shed on clothes
- Increase in hair collecting in the shower or bath
- More hair breakage when brushing or styling your hair
- Thinning hair or bald patches that appear
As hair loss is gradual, you may not notice it happening at first. Then, all of a sudden, you’ll notice a hairbrush full of hair or your thinning scalp.
By then, it has been happening for a while and it will be noticeable.
Causes of menopausal hair loss
The root cause of hair loss in menopause is down to low levels of oestrogen and progesterone and an increased level of testosterone.
As the body changes, hormones fluctuate, with oestrogen and progesterone levels dropping and testosterone increasing.
This can lead to thinning hair, excess breakage and hair loss.
Other hair-related symptoms include hair growth elsewhere on the body, including ‘peach fuzz’ on the face.
If you’re already susceptible to other conditions, this can exacerbate the situation. Conditions such as thyroid dysfunction, nutrient deficiencies, certain medications and particular illnesses can compound hair loss.
The most common cause of menopausal hair loss is hormone levels though.
Hormone levels and menopausal hair loss
There is no concrete medical link between hormone levels and hair loss. Yet it happens so often that it’s widely accepted to be a common cause.
The current thinking is that low progesterone levels during peri-menopause and menopause impacts androgen levels.
This, in turn, impacts the type of hair on your head and the growth phase our hair follicles typically follow.
We don’t know exactly why or how, but it’s definitely linked somehow.
Some physicians also equate higher testosterone levels to hair loss. It has been observed that women with higher levels of testosterone can suffer hair loss, hence the link.
However, enough women without elevated testosterone have also suffered from hair loss, so it’s not a foregone conclusion.
How to treat menopausal hair loss
Now you know what causes menopause hair loss and how it manifests, now let’s look at what you can do about it.
There are some effective treatments and lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce hair loss.
As you’re probably reading this because you’re experiencing both hair loss and menopause, let’s look at treatments first.
PRP or PRF hair treatments
It’s proving very effective and is very popular as it’s 100% natural, uses your own blood, requires no surgery, no medication and no recovery time.
They use growth factors and other healing elements within your blood and concentrate it on your scalp. The delivery of this huge healing potential can help encourage the regeneration of hair follicles.
As this is medicine, it’s impossible to make guarantees, but the results of many thousands of procedures are positive.
Rogaine is an over-the-counter medicine for male pattern baldness that can help hair loss in menopause too.
Rogaine is available as a serum or foam and is applied to the scalp following specific instructions.
It is thought to help female pattern baldness and encourage regrowth of hair follicles.
It does have side effects though so make sure you read any documentation carefully.
Laser hair treatment
Laser hair treatment has a less certain success rate but some swear by its effectiveness.
A low light laser is applied to the scalp, which is thought to encourage hair regrowth. It is also thought to increase the number of active hair follicles and help create stronger hair, which is why it’s popular.
There are different types of hair transplants, grafting, scalp reduction, flap surgery and tissue expansion. The most common is hair grafting.
Hair grafting transplants take hair from elsewhere on your body and implant them in bald spots or areas with extreme thinning.
Hair is usually taken from the back of your head and transplanted to the front. It does involve surgery but it’s minimally invasive and requires modest recovery time.
It can take up to a year to begin seeing results though
HRT, Hormone Replacement Therapy, is not a treatment for hair loss. However, if you’re experiencing other symptoms of menopause, the change in hormone levels can reduce or even stop hair loss altogether.
Everyone is different though and we would recommend discussing HRT with your physician before introducing it into your life.
Helping to reduce menopause hair loss
As well as treating menopause hair loss, you can also make some lifestyle changes to help lessen its effect.
If you can implement any of the following changes, you could reduce the rate or severity of hair loss:
Yes, we are fully appreciative that not everyone can lower stress levels, but it’s a common cause of hair loss in and out of menopause.
Adding 20 minutes or more of exercise to your daily routine can also help. It also has the benefit of lowering stress, burning calories, helping preserve muscle mass and bone density too.
Something as simple as walking to work instead of driving or walking the dog an extra 20 minutes per day could help!
Eat a healthy diet
Diet and nutrition can have a beneficial effect on many aspects of menopause. The more variety of good quality food you can eat, the better.
Include foods rich in iron, fatty acids, vitamins and folic acid particularly. Think red meat, oily fish and many types of beans and you’re on the right track.
Drink more water
Hydration is also key to managing menopausal symptoms, including hair loss. Drink water steadily throughout the day to keep hydrated and your skin and scalp will definitely thank you for it.
Stop using heated hair styling tools
Most hair styling tools that use heat are gentle, but prolonged use over time can make the hair brittle and a little lifeless.
If you can still style your hair without using them it’s well worth trying.
The same for artificial hair colours. If you can find a more natural alternative, we recommend trying it. Otherwise, make sure to use a natural conditioner to try to repair the hair as much as possible.
Managing hair loss in menopause
There are many well-publicised menopausal symptoms but hair loss typically isn’t one of them.
Yet, behind hot flushes, hair loss can be the most impactful to the way we feel and the way we live.
Fortunately, there are things you can do and remedies you can try if you’re suffering from hair loss in menopause.
Lifestyle changes can also lessen the effects, which can combine to make this time of life, less challenging than it might otherwise be.
If you’re experiencing hair loss in menopause, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to one of our team and we’ll see how we can help.