Menopause and Hair Loss
It can be tough going through menopause, coping with symptoms like hot flushes, mood swings and insomnia. Over half of us will also experience some hair loss during this time, so we look at why this may be happening and explore a range of options that can help you manage thinning or shedding hair.
What are the symptoms of hair loss during menopause?
You might find that your hair is getting thinner across the top of your head, particularly around your parting. It’s usually a gradual process, and your hair can become fine and brittle. There may be more hair than usual on your hairbrush or a lot of shedding on your pillow, which can be extremely stressful. This is the most common form of hair loss among women going through menopause, and it’s known as Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Losing your hair is understandably distressing, and it often feels like there’s nothing that can be done. Luckily there are many effective treatments out there to stop any further hair loss, and in many cases, to help your hair regrow. A Consultant Dermatologist can help you navigate the different options.
What causes hair loss during menopause?
Female Pattern Hair Loss, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, is caused by a combination of genes and hormones. During the menopause we experience huge hormonal fluctuations, in particular a decrease in oestrogen and progesterone levels. Due to a genetic predisposition, this makes some women more sensitive to the male hormones in the body. Testosterone is the main culprit – it can cause the hair follicles to shrink, resulting in progressively thinner hair.
However, there can be other factors causing your hair loss, such as a stressful life event, a previous illness or a lack of certain nutrients. Blood tests can help identify what’s going on and help you to get the right treatment.
Can diet help with hair loss during menopause?
With all the hormonal and physical changes to your body it is important to look after yourself. It may not be a simple cure for hair loss, but eating a balanced diet – rich in iron, protein and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – is recommended by experts. Protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, beans and eggs, as well as kale and asparagus are particularly useful, as the proteins in them are converted into keratin, one of the key building blocks of our hair.
We often don’t realise this, but an iron deficiency can also be a major cause of hair loss, and foods such as red meat or green leafy vegetables are a good source. Vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron and can also help promote healthy hair growth, so try to include foods such as citrus fruits, broccoli and sweet potatoes in your diet.
Can HRT help my hair grow back?
HRT is not a magic bullet, but it does restore oestrogen and progesterone levels in your body. These hormones have a protective effect on your hair follicles, and some women find that taking HRT can help prevent further thinning or shedding of the hair. Your gynaecologist will help you explore the different forms of HRT that are available and advise on which one is right for you.
Should I see a specialist about my hair loss?
Hair loss can negatively impact your mental wellbeing, and it’s a good idea to see a specialist if you are concerned. Many women feel embarrassed about losing their hair, but there are a range of options that can help, including dietary changes, hormone regulation and topical treatments.
Our Consultant Dermatologist Dr Singh explains how the most important thing is to get an accurate diagnosis, so that she can begin to address your condition:
‘Hair loss among menopausal women is a manageable condition, but it is progressive. The earlier we start to treat it, the less hair you will lose. There are so many effective treatments out there - from topical creams, to steroid injections - that can halt your hair loss and start to improve the density and volume of your hair’.
Visiting our London Clinic
If you are experiencing hair loss and would like to find out more or make an appointment, please call 020 7244 4200.