Can Menopause cause hair loss?
For many women, our hair is something we control. We cut it, style it and choose how to wear it. It is an expression of ourselves, our personality and our image.
So not only can we suffer from a whole host of other symptoms such as hot flushes, fatigue, mood swings etc. in menopause but can hair loss also be attributed to the menopause?
The answer is a bit fat YES!! And this condition occurs most commonly following the menopause. There are other factors of course such as age, genetics, stress, illness, dietary issues and even medications.
This is due to shifting and reducing hormone levels at menopause. Declining oestrogen and progesterone levels, the biggest hormone changes in menopause, can result in some women noticing that their hair has become weaker and thinner and grows more slowly than it used to. More loose hair seems to be apparent after washing and hairbrushes get clogged with excess hair. Some women will experience a more profound loss with thinning at the crown of the head, the sides or more general thinning all over the head. This is actually called Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL). However, this is usually genetic and runs in families.
Also due to declining oestrogen and progesterone hormones, this causes an increase in production of androgens (a group of male hormones,) especially testosterone, which in turn shrinks hair follicles and may also result in hair loss.
If we lose a lot of hair, we may feel less feminine, less in control and it can affect our self-esteem, cause anxiety and unfortunately, this creates a vicious circle unless we do something about it.
What can we do?
Are we deficient in certain nutrients that are vital to hormone balance and hair health e.g. A, B and C Vitamins, Zinc, Keratin, Omega-3 fatty acids? The following foods play a crucial role in maintaining and restoring hair growth;
- Fruits and vegetables
- Sesame oil
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Flaxseed oil
- Protein-rich foods such as red meat, beans, fish, eggs and milk
It may be worthwhile consulting a nutritionist for further support.
Vitamin C when added to shampoos and other hair products helps to successfully remove mineral build-up which enables hair to absorb more moisture. Not only can it promote healthy hair growth but can also stimulate regrowth after hair loss.
Vitamin A plays an important part in moisturising hair and stopping it becoming brittle. This is because Vitamin A increases the speed of cell regeneration. A deficiency can affect the maintenance of healthy hair during menopause
Reduce our stress levels
Stress is a very common factor in menopausal women. It is important you find a way to de-stress such as exercise, meditation/mindfulness, yoga, reading, listening to music, avoiding known circumstances or even people who seem to know how to raise your blood pressure! It may be that you need to re-assess your lifestyle and make adjustments. Seek help and support if necessary as stress can have a very detrimental effect on your health.
Look after your hair
With the heat damaging appliances we now all seem to use such as straighteners and high-intensity hair dryers, chemicals for dying our hair, hair extensions, hard-bristled brushes, these can all contribute to weakening the hair.
If you enjoy swimming the wearing of a swimming cap and washing and conditioning your hair after will avoid chlorine damage.
Styling your hair differently opting for a shorter, layered cut to give the illusion of thicker denser hair is also an option as is the use of thickening shampoos and conditioners, along with topical solutions to increase hair growth (however, these can take several months to take effect and must be used on an ongoing basis).
Laser therapy carried out by a hairdresser or therapist with experience and training on these devices is another outlet. Devices that emit low-energy laser light may stimulate hair growth to help against the thinning process. However, the long term safety and effectiveness are unknown.
Sleep contributes greatly to our health and wellbeing as it allows the body to build, repair and restore order. Taking a relaxing lavender bath before bedtime, avoid stressful situations and most definitely avoid any technology. Where possible sleep in a darkened room. Good, healthy sleep will help to rebalance hormones and nourish the adrenal glands which are the glands responsible for producing stress hormones like cortisol.
Also, the use of a silk pillowcase can help to protect your hair as being non-static your hair can move smoothly over the pillow without sticking to it thus avoiding tangles and frizziness. As silk doesn’t absorb moisture from hair and skin like cotton does it stops your hair from drying out and because it is naturally thermo-regulating keeps your head cool, reduces sweating and protects your hair.
Visiting your GP to discuss would be a first step to address any triggers which may be causing the hair loss, such as dietary deficiencies, stressful events or illness. You may be asked about your medical history to rule out other conditions such as anaemia, thyroid dysfunction, skin disorders etc.
If you are taking any medication it might be worthwhile checking outside effects in case this is the underlying issue.
Joining a support group can also be helpful to find others who are experiencing the same issues as you are.
Link to nutrients for healthy hair during menopause:
So what products are available that can help?
Regaine for Women – £ 47.57
Viviscal Densifying Elixir – £19.99
Nioxin 3 Part System – £ 23.80
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