Estrogen And Oral Contraceptive Drugs
The role of estrogen and progestogen drugs in the treatment of hair loss and growth is also unclear. Estrogen is made when androstenedione or testosterone are modified by the enzyme aromatase. It is synthesized in the ovary and other peripheral tissues and then travels to its receptors, some of which are located in scalp hair follicles . At the scalp follicle, estradiol has been reported to induce aromatase activity . Estrogen has been hypothesized to have a protective role against hair loss on the basis of the observation that patients with lower estrogen levels during menopause, postpartum, or treatment with aromatase inhibitors or selective estrogen receptor modulators are more likely to develop FPHL . Another supporting observation is that in the frontal hairline of women, which tends to be spared with FPHL, there is a higher level of aromatase enzyme when compared with the rest of the scalp . This variation in hair loss could be the result of locally increased levels of estradiol or decreased levels of testosterone and DHT that is secondary to greater amounts of conversion.
Physical And Emotional Stress
Extreme physical or emotional stress may trigger sudden hair loss in women. Hair loss due to physical or emotional stress is called telogen effluvium. Circumstances that may precipitate this pattern of hair loss include serious illness or injury, surgery, severe emotional upset, blood loss, and weight loss. Sometimes a reaction to medication may trigger this kind of hair loss. Telogen effluvium may last for 6 to 8 months before resolving.
Testing For Hair Loss In Women
Having experienced hair loss myself I know how much stress and anxiety it can cause especially socially. For me being chronically ill with chronic fatigue syndrome and having had years of antibiotic interventions I found myself with less than half the amount of hair than was normal for me.
While I knew the main cause was the chronic illness and medications I had been on for over two years, I still had to take a deep dive into my nutritional status and of course found multiple deficiencies.
There are so many tests you can have done both through your GP, and functional pathology labs however the key thing here is a good case history of your health problems should direct your health practitioner to which tests are most essential for you.
As a baseline you might want to start discussing these with your health practitioner:
Thyroid panel- TSH, T3 & T4 as well as thyroid antibodies
Iron studies & B12
White blood cells and any relevant auto-immune panels for you.
Viral assessments if your hair loss was preceded with an infection
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How Common Is Hair Loss In Women
Many people think that hair loss only affects men. However, it is estimated that more than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss. The most significant cause of hair loss in women is female-pattern hair loss , which affects about one-third of susceptible women, which equals out to some 30 million women in the United States.
Hormones And Hair Loss
Hormones cause hair loss, among various other symptoms. Heres a list of hormones that may lead to hair fall.
Women have DHT in trace amounts. It causes DHT hair loss like it contributes to male pattern baldness. Lets check how DHT hormone is responsible for hair loss in females:
- Testosterone converts to DHT with the enzyme 5 alpha reductase.
- The level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles is mainly in the crown area.
- DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it difficult for healthy hair to survive.
- The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women.
- Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone than men, but even level can cause DHT. This triggers hair loss in women.
You can also watch this video to learn more about how DHT causes hair loss:
Hair loss in females can also be caused by an imbalance of thyroid hormones. Hormonal hair loss or fall is also one of the main symptoms of hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormones affect every part of the body, including the cells of the hair follicle. Thyroid hormone prolongs the growth phase of the hair cycle and inhibits spontaneous rest phase of the hair growth cycle. So, low levels or very high levels of thyroid hormone cause the sudden onset of the rest phase, leading to hair loss.
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Prevalence Of Hyperandrogenism In Women With Fphl
In studies of consecutive women with FPHL, the prevalence of clinical or biochemical hyperandrogenism has varied widely. In one retrospective study of 187 women with FPHL and 21 healthy control women, 67% of the patients with hair loss alone and 84% of patients with hair loss plus other symptoms of androgen excess had hyperandrogenemia . In another retrospective study of 53 consecutive female patients with isolated FPHL , only 26% demonstrated hyperandrogenemia . In a retrospective study of 166 female patients diagnosed with FPHL, 8.2% of patients had increased total T, 2% increased free T, and 8.9% increased dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate concentrations . In a prospective study, Futterweit et al. assessed 109 women with FPHL and observed that 38.5% had increased androgen levels 26.1% of those with hyperandrogenemia had no associated hirsutism or menstrual dysfunction.
Although hyperandrogenism appears to be associated with FHPL, the strength and nature of this association remains unclear .
About Hormonal Hair Loss
When hormones are not in balance, hair loss can occur. A womans hormones can begin to decline and lose balance as early as when she is in her 30s.
There are many hormones that could cause hair loss.
Male hormones, called androgens, are responsible for both female and male pattern hair loss. Female pattern baldness occurs when dihydrotestosterone levels become elevated in the scalp. Additionally, low levels of female hormones may cause male hormones to become relatively elevated in women, resulting in hair loss.
Progesterone, produced during ovulation, decreases after menopause. In the absence of hormonal replacement therapy, the body tries to fix the hormonal imbalance itself by producing an adrenal cortical steroid called androstenedione. The production of this hormone causes hair loss
In pregnancy, hair loss may occur when estrogen levels first become elevated and then decrease suddenly. When the estrogen levels are high, this interrupts the normal hair-growth cycle, causing hair follicles to remain active when they should have entered the resting phase. Hair continues to grow throughout the pregnancy. When the pregnancy ends, estrogen returns to pre-pregnancy levels and hair follicles enter the resting phase in bulk. The mass change to the dormant phase severely retards growth and results in dramatic hair loss.
Did you know?
Being overweight or obese affects insulin, testosterone and estrogen levels so that condition is also causing hair loss.
Dandruff Or Scalp Psoriasis
When the skin on the scalp is inflamed and itchy, its obviously tempting to scratch it. But that may cause your hair to shed more than usual.
Dandruff is the most easily treated cause of hair loss, Dr. Fusco says, because you can treat it with over-the-counter products, like a shampoo containing zinc pyrithione or exfoliating ingredients such as the classic Head & Shoulders Classic or Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo . “Consistency is the trick,” Dr. Fusco says, so it’s important to find a shampoo and conditioner you like enough to use regularly.
But other conditions can also cause itchiness and scalp flaking, including seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis . Treating these issues may take more time and effort than dandruff, so its important to check in with a dermatologist if you think you may be dealing with one of these conditions.
Medication For Hair Loss
Minoxidil, or Rogaine, is a topical medication that is used to treat female pattern hair loss and male-pattern baldness. It was initially developed as a blood pressure medication and was used off-label to treat hair loss until it became FDA-approved for that purpose. Minoxidil can slow the progression of hair loss. Most women who use the medication experience regrowth of hair. The medication needs to be used continuously to maintain results. Other types of treatment work for different kinds of hair loss. Corticosteroids help suppress the immune response that damages hair follicles in people who have alopecia areata. Once the follicles recover, hair can grow back. If nutritional deficiencies underlie hair loss, eating a healthy diet with adequate and protein and nutrients can help you regrow hair. Certain medical problems may trigger hair loss. Adequately treating these conditions may help restore hair growth.
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Androgen And Hair Loss
Androgen is a male hormone – present in men and women – which is circulated into dihydrotestosterone within the hair follicles, to maintain healthy cells and hair growth. Each hair typically grows at a rate of around half an inch per month and will continue to grow for between 2 – 6 years before falling out naturally. Androgen levels decline with age, which can result in hair becoming thin or falling out of the scalp. This is known as androgenic alopecia, or patterned baldness.
In women, hair will usually become thin or patchy around the top or crown of the scalp, and the front hairline will remain intact. While hair on the scalp thins, belly-button, pubic, and facial hair may become coarser and more noticeable. Unlike in men, total baldness or near-total baldness is unlikely to occur in women. This key difference is due to estrogen levels.
Crash Diets Are Dangerous
Crash diets and fad diets promise quick weight loss, but most do not work and can be dangerous. If you lose 15 pounds or more very quickly, you may lose a significant amount of hair within a matter of months. Inadequate protein and nutrients is one of the potential reasons for hair loss in women. Stick to a healthy, balanced eating plan. Fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and complex carbs give your body the fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals you need to maintain a healthy body, including a full head of hair. Other dietary risk factors for hair loss? Excess vitamin A may set the stage for your luscious locks to fall out.
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Hormonal Changes In Women
There are several times in life when the hormones of a woman can shift significantly. Some of these instances can actually go back to normal once the event is over. However, there are some that will not go back to normal because it is a permanent natural shift. But there are situations when the hormones should have evened out but stay in a state of imbalance and could cause hair loss or other issues until it is resolved.
What Is The Relationship Between Hair Loss In Women And Menopause
During menopause, you might see one of two things happen with your hair. You might start growing hair where you didnt before. Or, you might see the hair you have start to thin. One cause may be changing levels of hormones during menopause. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, meaning that the effects of the androgens, male hormones, are increased.
During and after menopause, hair might become finer because hair follicles shrink. Hair grows more slowly and falls out more easily in these cases.
Your healthcare provider will do a thorough examination and take a detailed history to help you deal with changes in hair growth. You may be directed to have your iron levels or thyroid hormone levels tested. Your medications might be changed if what you take is found to affect hair loss or growth.
There Are Things You Can Do To Prevent Hair Loss
If you notice your hair is thinning and it bothers you, there are some easy ways to make it appear fuller and simultaneously help prevent more hair loss or breakage. For instance, as SELF explained previously, its important to:
Wash as often as you need tobut no more. Both under- and overwashing can affect the volume and feel of your hair. Not washing enough causes a buildup of product and oil that can weight your hair down. But washing too frequently can strip the hair of its natural oils, making it more dry and prone to breakage. Experts recommend sticking to washing about two or three times per week and adjusting as needed for your particular situation.
Always use conditioner after shampooing. Conditioner makes your hair shinier and helps reduce static electricity, both of which helps thinning hair look fuller and glossier. But remember: A little goes a long way, and too much will weigh hair down.
Try leave-on products. Leave-in conditioners and detanglers help keep your hair moisturized throughout the day and protect against the effects of heat styling that otherwise can cause thinning and breakage.
Use hair masks for deep conditioning. If your hair tends to be dry and brittle, an occasional deep-conditioning mask may be just what it needs to regain some life and strength. These can also help hair look shinier.
Style Your Hair Right
Hair stylists are a great resource for help for hair loss in women. A new haircut or hairstyle may be just what you need to make your hair appear fuller. Ask your stylist for advice about getting a shorter cut, parting your hair in a different location, or adding curls or waves to add volume to your hair. Products for hair loss in women include using styling products designed for thin hair. Some products are added to the roots while hair is damp before blowing dry. Some cosmetic products can help disguise the appearance of bald spots. Keratin fiber hair cosmetics have a static charge that makes hair appear fuller than it is. Ask your stylist or dermatologist for recommendations about the products and strategies that will work best for you.
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Menopause And Hair Loss: Whats The Connection
When entering the years of menopausal transition, it is a good idea to check the bodys hormone levels. This can help explain symptoms such as hair loss.
When a person experiences hair loss and other symptoms of menopause, it is predominantly due to hormonal changes. With age, the ovaries begin to decrease the amount of sex hormones that are normally produced. As the body responds to the fluctuations in hormones, numerous physical changes occur. Menopausal hair loss is directly related to the decreased production of estrogen and progesterone.
As these hormone levels drop, hair may begin to grow more slowly and become thinner. Over time, the decrease in estrogen and progesterone causes an increase in the activity of male hormones that the body makes. Androgens cause the hair follicles on the head to shrink, which leads to hair loss. These are the same hormones that are responsible for increased facial hair growth in menopausal people.
Among other factors that contribute to hair loss are lack of nutrients, stress, and illness. A health care provider may suggest tests for basic blood count, thyroid function, or hormone levels to identify the cause of hair loss.
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What helps: Ample exercise, meditation, and healthy habits are the best kinds of treatments, says Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Melissa Piliang, M.D. “These techniques help restore your body to its natural state.” Meaning: Your hair follicles can return to their regularly scheduled programming .
In addition, if your condition was brought on by a medical-related hormonal issue, your doctor may put you on hormone-regulating medications, like progesterone or even birth control, to fix the underlying issue.
No matter the source of the shedding, minoxidil and supplements that address multiple sources of hair loss make great options , says Fusco. She is particularly impressed with Nutrafol , which can kick-start strands to grow in about three months. “It has vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and adaptogens that address stress and inflammation and in general optimize the immune system so hair follicles can be triggered to grow healthy and strong.”
Learn how to blow dry fine hair to make it look full and gorgeous:
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Women’s Health. For more hair care secrets, pick up a copy on newsstands now!
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Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause is hot flashes, which often coexists with night sweats. Almost 80 percent of people who are in perimenopause or transitioning into menopause have hot flashes. Also, most women who receive chemotherapy or undergo surgery to remove their ovaries will experience hot flashes.
Scientists know that hot flashes occur as a result of low estrogen levels. Each hot flash involves a sensation of heat that starts in the chest area and travels to the neck and the head. It can last for a few minutes and may cause sweating. Some women also develop a faster heart rate during hot flashes.
If a hot flash happens during sleep, they are called night sweats. Women who have night sweats often wake up in the morning feeling tired.
Some people experience redness along their neck and face during a hot flash. This is called a hot flush.
On average, each hot flash lasts for about three to four minutes. Hot flashes can occur for a few months to several years. In a few rare cases, some people had hot flashes for 10 years.
Other signs of hormonal imbalance include:
- Heavy or irregular periods, missed periods, frequent periods, or stopped periods
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Weakened muscles
- Pain in the muscles, tenderness, and stiffness
- Pain and swelling in the joints
Other Hormonal Imbalances And Hair Fall In Women
Fluctuating thyroid hormone levels can also lead to hair fall. When the body is under physical stress from any kind of abnormal functioning, such as thyroid hormone imbalances, any non-critical functions such as hair growth or nail growth are among the first processes to be affected. While your body attempts to do critical work, such as balancing your hormones, your hair may become thin and dull, and your nails may weaken and break more easily. For this reason, low thyroid levels can cause hair fall and thinning hair in women as they age.What is the link between hair loss and hormonal imbalance? There is a profound link between hormones and hair loss in women, especially during already significant transitional life stages, such as post-pregnancy or menopause. Many women also experience hair loss due to natural hormonal imbalances. With the right treatments, such as hair growth supplements and lifestyle changes, women can help mitigate the effects of hormonal imbalances that can lead to hair loss and promote existing hair growth.
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