The menopause is a time of great changes in the female body, when hormones change causing a period of adjustment for most women.
There are not many women who manage to go through the menopause without experiencing some symptoms, but for some individuals, the signs are more severe.
Hair loss isn’t often discussed as one of the biggest problems experienced during the menopause but it’s surprisingly common to a lesser or greater degree. Here we take a closer look at hair loss and the menopause and why it occurs.
Normal patterns of hair growth and loss
For most women, hair loss isn’t something they have to consider and their hair follicles go through a normal cycle of growing, shedding and resting.
Although you may barely notice it, everybody loses around 50-100 hairs every day, as part of the normal growth and loss cycle. If you start to shed your hairs in greater volumes than this, you will start to notice bald spots or thinning sooner or later. This often manifests either in thinning around the sides and front, or as clumps which come out when you brush or wash your hair.
The hairs on our head are made from the same substance as our nails, keratin, and this is produced by follicles which lie just beneath the surface. A single strand of hair can remain on your head for up to six years before eventually falling out.
The strange fact is that the hairs on the head that you can see are actually hairs which the follicle has produced which are now dead!
Why does the menopause cause hair loss?
The hormones which are present in the female body can have a very profound effect not just on emotions and psychological well-being, but also the physical condition of the woman too.
The production of oestrogen drops significantly during the menopause and it’s this which plays a major part in hair loss. Oestrogen is responsible for promoting healthy hair growth in the body; as levels of this drop, hair production can tail off.
To make matters worse, as the levels of oestrogen reduce, the amount of testosterone in the body increases disproportionately. This can cause hair to thin on the head and cause facial hair to grow.
Looking after your hair
The menopause is unfortunately a fact of life that cannot be held back but that doesn’t mean you just have to simply put up with the misery of hair loss.
There are some simple guidelines which could help you minimise your hair loss as well as maximise what you have.
When you’re washing and brushing your hair, be gentle with it. Don’t tug or pull hard at your hair because this will put pressure on the roots which could well be weakened already. If your hair becomes tangled, you’ll need to use only gentle force to get the knots out.
The products you use on your hair are very important too. Don’t use harsh shampoos or products; use either a gentle shampoo or one specifically designed to counteract female hair loss. Dying it regularly isn’t a good idea either; even if you use a gentle dye it can weaken the hair and expedite hair loss.
Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet rich in protein, iron and Vitamin C and getting a good night’s sleep will all also contribute to reducing hair loss too.
Exercise and a scalp massage will increase the amount of blood flowing into the scalp and this could help to stimulate the follicles, preventing further losses.
Like any kind of hair loss, it’s important that you don’t jump to conclusions that it’s being caused by the menopause. You should always get hair loss checked by your doctor as there’s a number of other underlying conditions which can cause it. However, if you’re given the all clear, the above steps can help you to reduce any menopause-related hair loss and improve the quality of what you have.