Thinning hair is a common reality for an estimated 40% of all women. Female pattern hair thinning can affect women at any age post-puberty — but it’s most prevalent pre- and post-menopause.
The two key patterns contributing to hair thinning during menopause are hormone imbalances (which result from shifts characteristic of menopause) and oxidative damage that naturally builds up over time with a decreased capacity to be repaired.
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How does this all go down in the body? First, there is a sudden decline of the female reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. While that’s happening at a fast clip, androgens (i.e., testosterone, dihydrotestosterone) decline slowly, leading to a relative excess of androgens during or after menopause.
This excess, however, may not lead to increased androgens in the blood. Some women have a higher sensitivity to androgens at the level of the androgen receptor, making them more susceptible to hair thinning. Another consideration is the genetic predisposition of some women to convert a greater amount of testosterone (an androgen) into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is another androgen that is a more potent form of testosterone. These women are also more likely to experience hair thinning related to menopause.
How hair changes during menopause
- Loss of fullness
- Color lightens or becomes gray
- Loss of shine
- Dullness due to change in fatty acid composition
- Frizziness due to changes in fiber composition
- Thinning at the crown with intact hairline
- Widening of the central part
- Thinning with recession at both temples
Regardless of the reason behind the hair changes associated with menopause, the psychological effects are ever present. Seeing a change in your hair is devastating, frustrating, and often a silent and lonely struggle. Hair is part of a woman’s identity. The prospect of losing it is distressing and can negatively affect everything from your social life to your marriage and career. To add to this, women are often told there is nothing they can do to alleviate this type of hair thinning. Or the interventions are limited, typically including hormone therapy or androgen-blocking medications.
Can hair grow back after menopause?
Here’s the good news: New research and studies show there are more options. Targeted botanicals, dietary, and/or lifestyle interventions can be put into practice to start addressing the factors contributing to hair thinning.
Nutrafol Women’s Balance is specifically formulated to address the hair changes that are unique to women going through (or having been through) menopause. Some key ingredients include: saw palmetto, maca root, and astaxanthin.
Saw palmetto extract blocks 5 alpha reductase enzyme activity, modulates sensitivity at the level of the androgen receptor, and inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Known for its hormone balancing properties, maca root has been shown to both inhibit DHT and restore expression of the estrogen receptor beta. The combination of such herbs is paramount as studies indicate that hair can be restored by addressing the balance between androgens and female reproductive hormones.
Aside from attaining hormone balance, another important consideration for therapeutic intervention is oxidative damage. As we age, there is an increase in the amount of chemical and toxic exposures, along with a decreased capacity to counteract these exposures. This leads to more oxidative damage and reactive oxygen species, which contributes to increased pro-inflammatory chemicals and results in aging, thinning hair
Lifestyle tips for healthy hair during menopause
One way to combat oxidative damage is to add antioxidant-rich foods into your diet. Think: green tea, berries, colorful fruits, and vegetables. Berries in particular are great because they are a rich source of astaxanthins, which helps protect the cells and decrease markers of oxidative stress. You can also get your fill of astaxanthin in Nutrafol Women’s Balance.
Of course, we can’t forget about hair care:
Protect your hair from the sun by wearing hats, especially if gray hair is present, because it’s more vulnerable to damage from ultraviolet radiation.
Nourish hair with an oil treatment to restore shine lost to changes in oil composition. Some great oils to consider include castor oil or coconut oil. Simply massage into the scalp lightly to stimulate circulation and leave in for at least 20 minutes to overnight.
Avoid shampoos with harsh detergents (sulfates) that strip hair of its beneficial oils.
Most importantly, remember to be patient with yourself and your hair. Know that the positive changes you’re making to your lifestyle and supplement routine will pay off in stages: better sleep, less stress, and improved well-being. And from that, your hair will reap the benefits.