Women and Propecia Side Effects – What the Research Says

A lot has been written about Propecia side effects when it comes to men. But what about women? We all know that women lose their hair as well, even though women typically experience it differently than men. Men tend to suffer from male pattern baldness at the upper temples and the crown of the head, while women tend to lose hair more uniformly across their entire scalp, in a gradual thinning. However it happens, hair loss is an issue for both males and females.

Originally created as a treatment for enlarged prostate and marketed as Proscar (generic name finasteride), Propecia is a hair-loss medication that many people turn to. And while the American Hair Loss Association lists this remedy as a medication that women can take, it should be noted that the FDA has yet to approve it for women because there’s not sufficient research. This means that the potential side effects for women are not sufficiently known either. Women are generally advised not to use the medication while pregnant or to get pregnant while using it, due to the risk posed to the developing fetus due to finasteride’s hormonal effects. But with so much unknown, how safe are women taking it?

Propecia for women
The role Propecia plays in female pattern hair loss is still controversial. The results are varying with some showing success and other failure.

Studies on Propecia Side Effects in Women

There have been a few studies focused on using Propecia for reversing hair loss in women, with different results. A yearlong study from 2000 did not find Propecia was effective for women, but did also not find any negative side effects. The study involved 137 postmenopausal women who received 1 mg Propecia daily.  More recent case studies have reached the conclusion that finasteride could be effective for female pattern hair loss if the dose was increased to between 2.5 mg and 5 mg daily.

A 2012 study designed to find the exact minimal effective dosage, used 1.25 mg daily for 28 weeks. This study concluded that while the treatment did show results, it was probably not the most efficient dosage. Patients showed increased hair density and hair loss stopped, but hair growth did not return. So while researchers have not found the optimal dosage, Propecia’s role in female pattern hair loss is still controversial.

While some women with female pattern hair loss might benefit from Propecia, a better understanding of the side-effects and ideal dosage are needed. Some of the known side effects for women that have been observed are heat flashes, increased body hair growth, and sweating—although the same effects were observed in women who received a placebo treatment, and could be related to menopause. The main concern is that Propecia can affect male fetuses, including signs of feminization and various birth defects. The drug is so potent that pregnant women are advised to not even touch crushed or broken tablets because Propecia can be absorbed through the skin.

How Does Propecia Work in Women?

Hair loss continues to be a common problem and is normally even more distressing and upsetting for women than for men. Our hair plays a huge part in our self-image and losing it prematurely and unwantedly is likely to affect our self-esteem. Women will twice as often as men become very-to-extremely upset when experiencing hair loss. This means there will always be a market for a hair loss treatment that works, and researchers are still hard at work trying to find it.

Different types of hair loss require different approaches. While male pattern baldness is primarily caused by sensitivity to testosterone, this is not the root cause of all female pattern hair loss. Women also produce a certain amount of testosterone, but only some women that suffer from hair loss display an elevated amount of the hormone.

Propecia, or finasteride, works by targeting the enzyme type II 5α-reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone in our bodies to the more potent male hormone dihydrotestosterone, DHT, which causes hair loss. It was initially believed that finasteride would be effective in treating hair loss in women who had an elevated amount of testosterone, so called hyperandrogenism. But results from studies were inconsistent, and as mentioned above, success was not universal.

Still a Few Question Marks

In conclusion, there is no clear evidence either one way or the other, and Propecia may or may not work for you. Further research into what kind of woman is a good candidate for this medication must be conducted. Researchers also have little information on what the optimal dosage for women is. Any noticeable results may take at least 6 months, and in some cases even longer. And much like when men are using Propecia, the effects are not sustained without continued treatment.

What You Can Do Instead

Take a look at your habits. If you do not feel like risking anything and want another solution to your hair loss, start by treating the underlying problem. If it is not genetic, your hair loss could be caused by factors like stress, lack of sleep, lack of certain nutrients or an unhealthy lifestyle. Make sure you eat enough protein, since protein is the main building block of hair. Drinking enough water and exercising regularly also helps.

Check with your doctor. It could also be a thyroid disorder, hormonal imbalance or skin infection like scalp fungus. Getting a proper diagnosis is key to solving your individual issue.

Look over your medications. In some cases, sensitivity to a certain medication can contribute to and worsen hair loss. This even goes for common medications like Aleve, Motrin or antidepressants.

Take care of your hair. Avoid hairstyles that pull or tug on your hair like tight braids, cornrows or hair extensions. Do not wash your hair too often, and use a natural shampoo and conditioner – or even homemade ones. Skip the hairspray and other products with chemicals for a while.

Choose a natural supplement. Taking a supporting supplement or vitamins that you suspect you are deficient in could go a long way.

Feeling Uninspired? These Are the Best Hairstyles for Fine Hair

hair inso

Having very thin and fine hair can pose a challenge if you like a voluminous updo or thick curls. It can be hard to create volume by yourself, without the help of a professional. But many people with thick hair envy you! There are a ton of hairstyles that are easier to create and that look better on someone with thin hair. We have a list of the best hairstyles for fine hair.

  • The Angled Cut

If you cut thick hair at an angle, especially if you have shorter hair, it tends to blend together in thick waves and it is hard to even see the shape that the hairdresser had in mind. If the hair is curly, the effect is even less visible. However, this is a perfect cut for those with finer hair, as every strand falls into place. An angled bob also creates an illusion of thicker hair, thanks to the different layers and lengths. If you also add some waves using a curling iron or rollers, it will definitely add more body to the look.

Hairstyles for fine hair
Bangs and a Medium length.
  • Bangs and Medium Length

Having bangs with thick hair is kind of a challenge. Most of the time, they do the opposite of what they are supposed to and bend one way or the other. Many people with thick hair also have frizzy hair, which may not be the look you want when cutting bangs. But cutting bangs to a medium length hair, is one of the best hairstyles for fine hair. With thinner hair, the bangs will just fall down and create a relaxed and chill look. This will also make the hair around your face look fuller. You can make tousles in the rest of the hair using saltwater spray, or go the other direction and straighten it to the max. Either way looks good with well-behaved bangs.

  • A Feminine Ponytail

This is another hairstyle that is perfect for those with fine strands. Make the ponytail hight on your head and wrap a strand of hair around the hair tie to hide it. If you curl only the ends of the hair you will make them bouncy and achieve that retro look. If you want to add more volume, start off by using a dry shampoo close to your scalp and tousle your hair.

  • A Very Short Bob

A short bob cut – or if you are really brace, go even shorter an try a pixie – is definitely easier to pull off if you have thin hair. The hair is easier to shape and does not demand a lot of attention to look good. The angles and layers that it takes to cut this kind of hairstyle also makes your hair look fuller.

bob cut
A bob cut.
  • Blow-Dried Curls

The thing with thin and fine hair is that hairstyles – like curly ones – last longer because the hair is not heavy enough to weigh the curls down. Using a curling iron, or – better for your hair health – foam rollers or braids, to create waves will immediately create an illusion of more action. Blow-drying your hair after washing it while using a round brush to make waves will give it volume. Make sure to use a volumizing mousse and finish with a lightweight spray to fix the look.

  • If You Can’t Be Bothered to Style Your Hair

If you lack the time or energy for a lot of styling, be happy that thin hair can look good with minimal effort! Many of the best hairstyles for fine hair do not really demand much.

But – if you suspect that your hair is thin for some other reason than your genetics, looking over your health is a good idea.

Female hair loss is quite common, but most of the time it has an explanation and a solution. Hormonal changes, vitamin deficiencies, stress or pregnancy can all cause hair thinning in women. A healthy diet is important to fight this, as well as enough sleep and a checkup to make sure there is no medical reason. A natural hair supplement could also aid healthy hair growth.

Female Pattern Baldness – An Overview

female baldness

Up to 50 percent of men experience hair loss before hitting 50. Yes, that many, and yes, the issue is that common – as are the treatments. Everything from transplants costing thousands of dollars; to the well known drug Propecia, with its libido-losing side effects; to faithful natural solutions that are long-lasting because they work on making the entire body healthy rather than focusing only on the hair.

The main type of hair loss for both genders is androgenetic alopecia, also known as female pattern hair loss or male pattern hair loss.

Female pattern baldness may not be as common, but for those affected it can be even harder, as a shaved head is sometimes not a desired look among women as it is for men. No matter the reason for the hair loss, the anxiety and stigma that follows with female pattern baldness is stressful for many.

What is Androgenetic Alopecia?

Harvard Medical School wrote this about androgenetic alopecia:
“As the name suggests, androgenetic alopecia involves the action of the hormones called androgens. Which are essential for normal male sexual development and have other important functions in both sexes, including sex drive and regulation of hair growth. The condition may be inherited and involve several different genes. It can also result from an underlying endocrine condition. Such as overproduction of androgen or an androgen-secreting tumor on the ovary, pituitary, or adrenal gland. In either case, the alopecia is likely related to increased androgen activity. But unlike androgenetic alopecia in men, in women the precise role of androgens is harder to determine.”

What Causes Female Pattern Baldness?

The causes are many, including medical conditions, medications, and physical or emotional stress. When the clinicians explain female pattern hair loss, they most commonly use the Ludwig Classification from 1977. The Ludwig Classification divides female pattern hair loss into three categories:

  • Type I is mild, with minimal thinning that can be camouflaged with hair styling techniques.
  • Type II moderate and is characterized by decreased volume and noticeable widening of the mid-line part.
  • Type III is extensive with a see-through appearance (sometimes total baldness) on the top of the scalp.

 

Almost every woman will eventually develop some kind of female pattern hair loss. When it occurs will depend on your DNA. For some it can start as early as puberty, for others during menopause. The risk rises with age, and the risk is higher for women who have a history of hair loss on either side of the family.

What Can You Do?

The most common treatment is through medication – here are some of them:

Anti-androgens
Some anti-angrogens are Aldactone and Propecia, but these androgen receptor-blocking drugs are not really for women to use. There are only a few studies on what affect they have on women, which means little reliable evidence that they are effective or even safe. Therefore these options are really only open to men.

female hair loss
Almost every woman will eventually develop some kind of female pattern baldness. When it will occur, depends on your DNA.

Iron Supplements
When women lose hair, iron deficiency can be one of the causes. Get your clinic to test you and see if you are short on iron. If the iron level is less than 70 nanograms per milliliter, then your doctor may suggest taking an iron supplement.

Botanical Supplements
Going green is always a wise suggestion. Botanical supplements contain many of the nutrients your hair needs. These kind of supplements are usually sourced from herbs and vitamins that go along well. The ingredients target the potential triggers of thinning hair and provide your hair with the essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

These are the Most Common Causes for Hair Loss in Women

Losing hair as a woman is not a great feeling, but hair loss in women is quite common. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40 percent of women experience visible hair loss by the time they reach 40. Luckily there are many ways to tackle this condition.

How Does Hair Growth Work

The hair growth cycle has four stages. The first one, anagen, is when the hair grows from the hair follicle. The pace is about half an inch every 28 days. How long this phase last is individual. It can be disrupted due to stress, hormonal imbalance, diseases or other factors.

Stage two, catagen, is when the hair follicles detach from blood vessels in the scalp so that blood supply is cut off. The hair stops growing.

The third phase is called telogen. This normally lasts for about three months – this is the resting phase, before the cycle starts over again.

The fourth and final phase, exogen, is really just a resting phase as well. This is the time when dead hair falls out. Normal shedding is approximately 50 – 100 hairs every day. However, in healthy people, new hair starts growing at the same time.

The Common Causes for Hair Loss in Women 

Androgenetic Alopecia – Female Pattern Baldness

This is also called pattern baldness and is most commonly found in men. Initially, doctors believed this pattern hair loss to be caused by excessive male hormone, testosterone, in a patient. Women normally have some amounts of this hormone as well. But in later years it was discovered that dihydrotestosterone, DHT, is the real culprit.

Testosterone converts into DHT when bound by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. This is naturally produced in the body, but it is believed that people that suffer from pattern baldness have a heightened sensitivity to it. Their bodies create more DHT, which in turn kills the hair follicles. There can also be a hormonal imbalance that triggers a reaction to an increased level of DHT.

Telogen Effluvium – Stress

Hair loss in women
A healthy lifestyle and diet are important for healthy hair.

The hair growth cycle can be disrupted by major life events that cause stress in the body, surgery, giving birth, having some kind of accident or going through a divorce. In this case, all the hairs that are in the growing or resting phases will shift at the same time to shedding phase.

Normally it takes about three months after a particularly stressful event until the hair shedding shows. For some women, this can be a lasting condition that comes and goes. But for most, it is a temporary thing that will most likely solve itself if you solve the underlying situation that caused your stress or trauma.

Anagen Effluvium – Reaction to Chemotherapy

If something happens to the hair follicle that disrupts its mitotic or metabolic activity, it will stop growing hairs. This typically happens after chemotherapy during cancer treatment. Since chemo targets cancer cells in the body that divide rapidly, all other rapidly dividing cells are also affected. In hair cells, this will narrow the hair shaft until it breaks off.

Most people lose hair during chemo, but there is a new treatment that is up and coming in the United States. Cold cap chemotherapy could be effective in treating hair loss in women that go through chemotherapy without medicine or surgery. The treatment consists of a cold cap with a cooling liquid that is placed on the patient’s head during the chemo session. Cooling down the scalp will constrict blood vessels and slow the blood flow. That means the metabolism of hair follicle cells will also slow down, and the effects of the radiation on the hair cells will be reduced.

Traction Alopecia – Tugging at the Hair

Traction alopecia can be caused by a very tight hairstyle, like a ponytail or braids, that is kept for a long period of time. This will pull and tug at the hair and stretch out the hair follicles until the hair falls out. This is ironically a common problem for people wearing hair extensions.

This condition can also be caused by stress or obsessive compulsory disorder, in which someone pulls and tugs on her own hair until it falls out (also known as trichotillomania).

Treatments?

Most of these types of hair loss and thinning in women can be helped by reducing stress and leading a healthy lifestyle overall. Diet plays a big part in our hair’s health. For the times when we are too busy to get to that workout or make a homemade salad for dinner, a natural hair supplement can be a good complement. Nutrafol contains only naturally derived ingredients that work synergistically to make your hair healthy from the inside out.

Minoxidil – How Rogaine for Women Works

Rogaine For Women

The medication minoxidil is most commonly known as Rogaine. It is often associated with male pattern baldness, but now there is also Rogaine for women. It has been reformulated in multiple different products and targeted to women with hair loss or baldness. If you are a woman who is looking for help with your bald spots, hair loss or thinning, minoxidil may be the solution for you.

Chemical Compounds in Rogaine For Women

Minoxidil was originally used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), but somehow doctors discovered that applying it topically on the scalp created hair growth. Bet you’re wondering how that lab experiment came to be! Minoxidil for women with hair loss works by stimulating growth in the follicles and lengthening the growing phase of the hair growth cycle, but the exact chemical influences are not yet known – they just know it works. Studies have found that minoxidil products such as Rogaine for women actually work better than for men. This is believed to be because male pattern baldness is genetic (inherited from their male family), while female pattern baldness is generally a result of external factors.

Using Rogaine and Minoxidil Safely

Minoxidil is the one hair growth compound that is approved by the FDA for female hair loss. This is important since even though so many other products are on the market, no other topical hair growth solutions are sanctioned by the FDA. It is also important to note that minoxidil for women only comes in 2% concentration, while the male formula is closer to 5%. Note for women: Do not use the male formula thinking “it is the same thing, just different packaging.” This is not true, and can actually cause a lot of problems, so stick with the specific minoxidil or Rogaine for women unless instructed by your physician.

Rogaine For Women
Minoxidil is the only hair growth compound that is approved by the FDA for female hair loss.

Side Effects of Minoxidil

If you use male strength minoxidil as a woman, you can experience hair growth in places you would not prefer. This includes your face, neck, chest, arms, hands, or anywhere else you might accidentally touch the solution. Even with the 2% strength, you should be very careful with the solution.

Other side effects can include: skin irritation, discoloring of the hair around the area applied, and even allergic reactions. This is mostly because the brand name Rogaine no longer owns the patent. People often buy generic versions that have different chemical compositions. Make sure to read the label of a generic minoxidil product to make sure you are not allergic to the ingredients. Stop use if you experience severe irritation or worsening hair loss.

If you prefer using a product that is full of only natural ingredients, there is an alternative. Nutrafol hair health supplements are natural and contain a combination of ingredients that work together.

Waiting For it to Work

You are probably thinking, “How fast can this stuff work? I need help now!” As with anything, you really need to be patient. Results typically show in about two months, and most studies find that the results “peak” after four to six months. However, it is recommended to be used for a year, to make sure the maximum amount has been applied and also to make sure your body has become used to the new generation of hair. Also keep in mind that for the product to work, you have to follow the directions on the bottle. Apply twice daily, let it air dry, and wash the solution from anywhere you do not want hair to grow! Do not wash your hair for at least four hours. And do not play with or comb the hair excessively until you start to notice hair growth.