September is Menopause Awareness Month, and our team of hair scientists and naturopathic doctors want to help open the conversation around women’s hair thinning and menopause. Below, read the emotional hair stories of women experiencing menopause, along with important insights from Nutrafol’s Dr. Sophia Kogan, MD.
Most of us had the period talk and the sex talk with our mother or mother figure, but raise your hand if you had the menopause talk?
“I knew very little about menopause,” says Gabriela, age 54, part of an amazing group of women who shared their hair stories with Nutrafol for this article. “My mother had a hysterectomy at 36 so menopause wasn’t something I ever thought about.” One of the biggest surprises for Gabriela was how menopause changed her hair. “I lost a lot of hair in the two years immediately following menopause. My hair has always been fine, but now it’s gone to a new level of thin. It’s the thing that bothers me most about myself,” she shares.
Whether natural or induced, menopause is a major transition in a woman’s life — but we don’t talk about it enough. This lack of conversation leaves many of us unprepared to deal with the changes that come during this time of life, one of the most confidence-shaking being changes to our hair.
Why we need to talk about menopause and hair thinning.
“Hair thinning is something that women don’t anticipate because it’s never talked about,” says Nutrafol co-founder and chief medical advisor Dr. Sophia Kogan. “We expect that we’ll get wrinkles and our bodies will change, because that’s an expectation we see in our mothers, but if our mothers never talked about their hair thinning, we never think it will happen to us.”
But it often does. Over 30 million women experience hair thinning at some point in their lives, and 40% of women have visible hair thinning by age 40. According to Harvard Medical School, two-thirds of postmenopausal women deal with hair thinning or bald spots.
Thinning hair is a natural part of a woman’s life.
What women need to know.
As we go through menopause, hormonal shifts occur that can cause hair thinning and shedding. “What happens is estrogen and progesterone levels decline very suddenly while androgen hormones (testosterone) decrease, but also linger,” explains Dr. Kogan. Some women have a higher sensitivity or genetic predisposition to these androgen hormones, making them more susceptible to hair thinning.
Some of the hair changes women notice during menopause include:
- 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
“My hair definitely got thinner — especially at the crown and sides,” says Anna, 62. “My hair, much like my skin, feels a lot drier now, says Sasha, 67. “I hate it,” says Cathy, 66, of her hair after menopause. “It’s thinner now and it’s actually made me appreciate how much thicker my hair was before menopause.”
Don’t lose hope… Take control.
One of the reasons we need more awareness around hair thinning during menopause is that many women think there’s no hope. Asked how they envision their hair in the next five years, women age 48 to 67 replied with everything from, “Thinner and more receding,” to “Probably much worse,” to “Oh gosh, I hate to even think about it.” However, new research shows targeted botanicals and lifestyle interventions can address the factors (from hormones to stress to nutrition) that contribute to hair thinning during menopause.
“We specifically formulated Nutrafol Women’s Balance to support hair health through menopause — before, during, and after,” says Dr. Kogan. Of the 21 natural ingredients in Women’s Balance, some key players include saw palmetto, maca root, and astaxanthin. “Saw palmetto targets those androgen hormones, while the beautiful adaptogen maca naturally balances sex hormones, and astaxanthin boosts our antioxidant capacity to fight oxidative stress,” explains Dr. Kogan. “At Nutrafol, we’re about hair wellness and how you can support your hair through whole-body health,” she adds. “A positive way of looking at it is that it’s a form of self-care. Taking care of your hair during menopause is a simple act of self-care.”