Although it is commonly assumed that hair loss occurs only in men, women experience it too. In fact, up to half of all women will notice some hair thinning or loss in their lifetime.
If you’ve noticed your part getting wider or more scalp showing through your hair, you could be dealing with hair loss. Don’t assume there’s nothing you can do or that it’s simply aging. Find out the cause and whether there are treatments available.
Female pattern baldness
Androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern baldness, is the most common cause of hair loss in women, and its cause is similar to the baldness often seen in men. It often occurs when a woman gets older due to hormonal changes, but it can happen to younger women too. It’s characterized by a gradual loss of hair all over the head — not just on top like with men. But it doesn’t typically result in total baldness — only thinning.
Female pattern baldness often runs in families, so if a mother, sister, or aunt had hair loss or thinning, you’re more likely to experience it. It responds well to treatment with Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine), but choose the one that’s designed for women. Some women opt for hair transplants, which often yield good results but can be expensive.
A death of a loved one, extreme illness, blood loss, extreme weight loss, or other high stress events can trigger hair loss. You may notice more hair coming out within weeks to months after the traumatic event. In most cases, hair will grow back once the stress has been resolved.
Eat a balanced diet to help your body regrow the hair you lose, and see your physician to rule out other problems. If you need help in dealing with stress, talk with your physician about healthy ways to combat it.
In some cases, your immune system may mistakenly attack hair follicles, causing hair to thin and fall out. This is known as alopecia areata, and hair loss is often the only symptom in an otherwise healthy person. It can affect the eyebrows and eyelashes as well. The cause is unknown, but experts believe it can be inherited. Your physician may recommend treatments for you to help combat the hair loss.
Other autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, and many others can cause hair loss. Because there are a number of autoimmune conditions and their symptoms may vary widely, it’s important to see your physician for regular checkups, and discuss hair loss and any other symptoms at your visit.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may experience a wide array of symptoms, from infertility to irregular periods to excess facial hair. Characterized by excess androgens, or male hormones, PCOS can also cause hair loss. Talk with your gynecologist if you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS.
Anemia is most common in menstruating women who have excessively heavy periods, and also occurs during pregnancy when blood volume increases. Other symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue may also be present. Many women with anemia also experience hair loss. A physical exam and blood tests may determine whether you have anemia and how it should be treated.
CarePoint Health Gynecology
With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.