All About Hair Loss and Menopause - Elektra Health

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Hair loss

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SYMPTOM

Hair loss

Many women will notice some degree of hair loss or thinning during menopause. While female pattern hair loss (or FPHL for sort) can begin any time after the onset of puberty, it often starts in our 40s and 50s.


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    The science

    Almost every woman eventually develops some form of female-pattern hair loss (FPHL), and while the causes vary, many are a function of aging.

    • Hormone fluctuations
      Those of us who have been pregnant before might recall hair loss or thinning after giving birth. This is a result of fluctuating hormone levels, specifically decreases in estrogen and progesterone. The same thing happens in menopause — except, during this stage of your life, decreased estrogen is compounded by relatively higher testosterone, which can also contribute to FPHL. Menopausal women may also experience hirsutism, a condition that results in the growth of dark, coarse hair where we *don’t* want it (think face, chest, and back).
    • Genetics
      Women with a history of hair loss on either side of the family are at increased risk.
    • Stress
      Whether emotional or physical (i.e. from an illness), stress may lead to hair loss as much as 4-9 months following the stressful event or trigger.
    • Medications
      Such as blood thinners or antidepressants
    • Medical conditions
      Including hypothyroidism, gluten intolerance, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

    Compared to men’s baldness, FPHL is markedly understudied and rarely talked about (hence the taboo, which we’re on a mission to smash). Case in point: we know that, for men, balding usually begins above the temples, with the receding hairline eventually forming an “m” shape. Male hormones called androgens are the main cause of balding for men as well as women; however, other non-androgenic factors that contribute to FPHL have yet to be identified or studied. Long overdue, don’t ya think?

    Although it’s difficult for doctors to pinpoint one singular cause, it’s still worth seeing a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss, especially if you experience a sudden onset.

    What you can do

    We’re all about equipping you with the know-how to understand your symptoms, and we especially emphasize the specific, tangible ways to manage them. Our goal is to empower YOU to take charge of your menopause journey, starting today.

    A quick note about product recommendations…Elektra Health is not paid to feature any products. We just like them and think you might too, though we can’t guarantee any results.


    Lifestyle

    Nutrition & Diet

    There have been studies on the impact of gluten intolerance on hair thinning, so if you suspect this may be affecting you, it could be worth seeing an allergist for testing or a simpler option would be to cut out gluten from your diet for at least a few months to see if there’s a difference.

    Outside of gluten, the evidence on diet-related interventions for hair loss is sparse at best. That said, we’re always keeping an eye out for emerging research and the latest clinical studies. Subscribe to our weekly Elektra Digest for the latest, science-based info direct to your inbox. Something work well for you that’s not listed here? We want to hear it! Shoot us a note at [email protected] (We’re human, promise.)


    Supplements & Over-the-Counter Solutions

    Supplements and over-the-counter solutions may be effective in supporting your hair…if you choose wisely. We recommend consulting with your healthcare provider first to ensure you’re using something with optimal efficacy and safety (i.e. backed by clinical research) or consulting with Elektra’s providers. Here’s a quick primer from our team on how to go about selecting high-quality supplements.

    Shampoos and sprays

    Although there aren’t many integrative solutions backed by research, certain shampoos may be helpful when thinning isn’t too significant, including Revita, Nioxin, Laritelle, Pura D’or, and Art Naturals — as well as anti-dandruff shampoos such as ketoconazole 2% and zinc pyrithione 1%. In order to achieve sufficient density for frontal hair loss caused by FPHL, camouflaging topical sprays or keratin fibers may be used as well.

    Collagen

    As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is found in tendons, ligaments, and skin. Our bodies naturally produce it, and certain foods (e.g., bone broth) are chock-full of it. Some opt to also take it in supplement form in order to support healthy, strong hair, and there is some evidence that it can help. It works by providing essential amino acids that build keratin, the hair’s primary protein. It also helps fight damage to hair follicles and may help prevent age-related thinning.

    Minoxidil (aka Rogaine)

    This drug dilates the blood vessels of the skin when applied, increasing blood flow to the hair follicles. Approximately 40% of patients show a significant improvement when taking minoxidil (the generic version of Rogaine). Results typically appear after about one year and, if it works for you, you’ll need to continue taking it every day to sustain the results. If you decide to give minoxidil a try, be sure to check prices — minoxidil marketed to women is often more expensive than minoxidil marketed to men. Egregious, but true.

    Nutrafol Women’s Balance

    This supplement targets the root cause of thinning (e.g., hormones, stress, and metabolism). It has ingredients that help support the growth of hair follicles and decrease testosterone, which can contribute to hair loss. In a clinical study, women saw stronger, thicker hair growth with more scalp coverage after six months.


    Prescription

    Non-Hormonal

    Although the evidence supporting non-hormonal prescription medications isn’t the strongest, that’s not to say there are NO options for FPHL management. It’s best to discuss with a dermatologist and, as mentioned above, please do let us know if something in particular has worked well for you in the past (email us at [email protected]). To learn more, we recommend the American Hair Loss Association’s site, which is loaded with helpful information.

    For hirsutism, some women have seen positive results with the FDA-approved topical cream, Eflornithine hydrochloride (aka Vaniqa), which reduces the growth of unwanted facial hair.


    Disclaimer: This information is for general educational purposes, and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any health condition or problem.

    As with anything you put into your body, taking dietary supplements can also involve health risks. You should consult a medical professional before taking supplements and inform your doctor about any supplements, as well as any medications you already take, since there may be interactions.

    References

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