Menopause is inevitable, but many women are not aware that hair loss is one of the symptoms of this phase. Unlike male pattern baldness, female hereditary hair loss is subtler and more spread out over the whole scalp. This makes it more difficult to notice, but also harder to treat in time since you may not know about it. But luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid losing your hair.
What Are the Most Common Menopause Symptoms
This physical change in women occurs around the age of 50. But signs of what is coming can be noticeable years before, sometimes as early as in your 30’s. Some menopause symptoms include hot flashes, irregular periods, trouble sleeping, mood swings, forgetfulness and physical changes. The hair and skin will get drier and thinner, and the hair can even start falling out.
Why Do We Lose Our Hair During Menopause?
Menopause symptoms are mainly caused by a change in your hormones. As you get older, your body produces less of the female sex hormone, estrogen. This starts in the period leading up to menopause, known as the perimenopause. Then, when you have not had your period for a full 12 months, it counts as menopause. The ovaries have then stopped releasing eggs and stopped producing most of the estrogen. During the years following this phase, the symptoms slowly cease. This period goes by the name of postmenopause.
The female hormones estrogen and progesterone help our bodies produce hair on our head. They also keep the production of androgens, a male sex hormone, at bay. But when the female hormones decrease, androgens increase. This contributes to hair thinning on the head and increased hair growth elsewhere.
Other Contributing Factors
But there are other possible factors that can cause hair loss during this time of life, and they are the ones we can do something about. Some menopause symptoms include depression, fatigue, insomnia, and irritability.
Increased Cortisol Levels
When we are depressed, stressed or not getting enough sleep, our bodies produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to cause hair loss. Reducing stress, eating well and getting enough sleep is important if this is the reason for our hair loss.
Make sure that you are not confusing your menopause symptoms for a thyroid disorder. The two conditions share many symptoms, and treating one could actually help the other.
The thyroid is a gland in our neck and is responsible for the thyroid hormones T4 and T3, also called the beauty hormone, which affects our skin, nails, hair and overall health.
When you have an over-active thyroid, it is called hyperthyroidism. The symptoms of this disorder include weight loss, a more rapidly beating heart, irritability and heat intolerance. Hypothyroidism is when you have an underactive thyroid, and these symptoms are even more similar to those of menopause. You could feel more tired than usual, get an irregular period, gain weight, feel depressed, cold and lose hair. To find out for sure what the cause of your symptoms is, go to your doctor and get diagnosed.
Medications That Can Cause Hair Loss
If you take certain medications, and in some cases birth control pills, they can also cause hair loss. That means that your struggle to defeat menopause symptoms will not have any effect on your hair. Look over your medications and see if they could be the real cause of why you are losing hair.
Check the Health of Your Scalp
You might have a scalp disease, like scalp fungus, which sometimes causes hair to thin or fall out.
If you lack a vital nutrient or do not eat a sufficiently nutritional diet, your hair growth could also be in danger.
What to do About it
To cure hair loss, look at the whole picture. Is your diet healthy enough? How much exercise are you getting? Do you take any medication with hidden side effects? Do you feel stressed or depressed? If you are sure that menopause is the culprit, the problem can still be helped by adding some extra nutritious food, vitamins or a hair supplement.
Use a Topical Scalp Treatment
You can also get a topical treatment to apply to your scalp, which can help getting your hair growth back on track.
Protect Your Hair from the Elements
Protecting your hair from weather and wind is always a good idea. Wear a hat in the sunshine and a scarf when it is windy and cold. Very dry or hot air wears the hair out, and the sun damages not only your skin but also your hair. You can also use a sun protection spray if you spend a lot of time out in the sun.
Laser or Surgical Treatments
In severe cases of hair loss, there are options like laser treatment or surgical procedures like hair transplants and hair cloning to consider.
Avoid Worrying About It
But above all, try to stay calm, keeping in mind you have options. Often when we worry, we stress ourselves out and the effect causes the problem to get worse. The majority of symptoms related to menopause slow down after the initial onset.