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.

Foods rich in selenium and why they are so important to your hairs health

Nutrafols supplements contain the ingredient selenium and on the ingredient page, the following is written about selenium and selenium foods;
“Selenium produces antioxidant enzymes that can defend against damage to cells, including those in hair follicles. It also helps to maintain proper thyroid function, which benefits the immune system and fosters healthy hair growth.”
So, with that being said, here follows a description on a need to know basis about this mineral.

Basic description of selenium

Selenium is one of many important dietary minerals, and we require a small amount of selenium in our diet.

Selenium contains a small cluster of important proteins. Each of these play a critical role in your health. Scientists named these selenium-containing proteins selenoproteins.

Good selenium nutrition is important for antioxidant protection and for other health reasons as well. The selenium amount a plant contains relates to the selenium content of the soil in which the plants is grown. Selenium content of soils can vary widely, however, poor soil content of selenium is not typically a factor in the average U.S. diet.

Sources of selenium

Fish, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, whole grains, and nuts and seeds are either good, very good, or excellent food sources of selenium.

 

Selenium and antioxidant protection

Selenium is necessary for your body and especially important for the proper activity of a group of enzymes called glutathione peroxidases. (You will sometimes see the abbreviation “GPO” or “GPx” for a glutathione peroxidase enzyme.) These enzymes play an important role in your body’s detoxification system and they also protect it against oxidative stress. (Oxidative stress is physiological circumstance in which there is excessive risk of oxygen-related damage to the body.) Of the eight known glutathione peroxidase enzymes, five of them require selenium.
In addition to the activity of glutathione peroxidase, the enzymes that contain selenium, are involved in recycling of vitamin C, which allows an antioxidant protection.

Selenium and thyroid function

A selenium-containing enzyme is responsible for transforming a less active thyroid hormone called T4 into the more active T3.

So, how does this work you may wonder? Simple – selenium and iodine work together to keep thyroid function strong and consistent.
Researchers have been able to notice problems with the thyroid gland in just two months when keeping a low-selenium diet.

selenium rich foods
Of all the nutty nuts, the brazil nut is an exceptional selenium source.

Selenium foods to keep in mind

If you have read about selenium foods, you have probably read about Brazil nuts being a strong source of the mineral. Just as little as one ounce of Brazil nuts may contain as much as 10 times the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommendation for selenium intake. Other exceptionally rich selenium foods include oysters, clams, liver, and kidney. Each of these foods is likely to contain double to triple the DRI in a serving.
Fish and shellfish are an excellent source of selenium. Whole grains and seeds, are as well a good selenium source. Include at least one of these selenium foods in your everyday diet to maintain a healthy hair regime.


Photos: Charlotta Wasteson and Mauro Cateb via Flickr.