While both men and women have all of the hormones mentioned above, there are biological differences in how much we have of each hormone and when their levels change. These hormonal variations have an influence on how different life stages can impact us when it comes to hair thinning, whether it’s in the case of a woman in menopause or a young male in his twenties.
For example, while women experience natural dynamic shifts in hormone levels over a cycle of about 28 days, men are influenced by a 24-hour hormone cycle directing the ebb and flow of androgens like testosterone. But women can also suffer from overzealous androgen influence that can lead to changes in hair fullness.
One culprit for a woman’s sensitivity to the effects of androgenic (aka male pattern) hair thinning is genetic susceptibility. This predisposition can be worsened by a decrease in estrogen (which can help prolong the hair growth phase) as women transition into menopause. Hormonal conditions like thyroid disorders and stress can also compound hair thinning caused by genetics.
The major health conditions and life events that can affect a woman’s hormones (and hair) include:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Thyroid disorders (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism)
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Diabetes mellitus
- Menstrual disorders
Some hormonal hair changes are expected, as with those connected to menopause, and certain ones may even be self-correcting, such as the natural postpartum fall in estrogen that has been noted to influence hair loss. Although, some postpartum women report their hair never returns to the same quality as it was pre-baby.