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Menopause
Symptoms
Thinning Hair

Thinning Hair

Thinning hair is a very common symptom amongst menopausal women. It is one of the many ways our body changes during this transition. It is nothing to worry about - there are ways you can manage it and steps you can take to prevent it.

Thinning hair during your menopause

Hair loss during your menopause is not a sign that anything is medically wrong. It is one of many (34) menopausal symptoms that some women get during this time. As it is not commonly discussed, you may not put it down to menopause until it becomes quite noticeable.

Signs to look out for include:

  • More hair than usual falling out on a daily basis — Check your hairbrush, your shower drain, you sink... if you find that more hair than usual in there this may be a sign that your hair is thinning.
  • Look to see if your hair line is more visible or if your ponytail is beginning to feel smaller.
  • In general, if your hair begins to feel more fragile or is breaking easily when you brush it.

Why is your hair thinning during menopause?

Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone are responsible for the thinning of hair during menopause. These two hormones promote hair growth - contributing to the speed and quality at which it grows. As these hormones begin to decline during menopause, so does your overall hair growth. As a result, your hair will appear thinner and more fragile.

On top of this, as your female hormones continue to decline, your male hormones (androgens - yes we have these!!) will become more predominant in your body. Androgens cause your hair follicles to shrink - this further reduces our hair growth.

A major, non-hormonal, cause of thinning hair may be increased stress levels. Menopause can be a time of high stress - This, on top of our changing hormones, can impact our hair growth. Occasionally, after a stressful life event or serious illness, you may experience sudden and extreme hair loss, (telogen effluvium). Although this is worrying the hair will grow back normally as you recover.

Is thinning of hair common?

Thinning hair is common during menopause. Studies have shown that the thinning of hair occurs in over 50% of menopausal women. You may even find yourself beginning to shed more hair during your perimenopause - this is all dependent on how your hormones are behaving in the years leading up to menopause.

Are there other causes of hair loss I should think about?

Although thinning of hair during perimenopause and menopause is common there are other causes of generalised thinning such as an under-active thyroid gland, or low iron or anaemia.If your hair is falling out in patches, then you should consult a doctor as it could be a different condition such as alopecia areata, or a fungal infection.

What can you do?

There are many different ways you can tackle thinning hair - it all depends on what your goal is. If you are looking to prevent you hair thinning, here are some tips which may help you:

  1. Diet — Healthy eating is an important way in which you can begin combating your menopausal symptoms - yes this includes hair loss! A balanced diet including plenty of vegetables of different colours which are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will help your hair and skin.. You should make sure that you have enough iron rich foods in your diet (red meat meat, fish eggs, leafy green vegetables), especially if you are having heavy periods, or are on a vegetarian diet. Also remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
  2. Exercise — Physical activity is good for your general health, and may help menopausal symptoms, skin and hair.Additionally, it is a great way to combat stress and keep a cool mind.
  3. Decreasing your stress — Excessive stress is an important driver when it comes to thinning hair and hair loss. Stress itself can send your hormones into disarray - now couple that with menopausal hormone fluctuations... Find ways in which you can manage your stress. This will help you keep your body in check!
  4. Hormone Replacement Therapy — If you are looking for the quickest results then HRT may be the best option for you. It will replace the hormones you are loosing during your menopause (estrogen and progesterone). HRT can be used to combat a number of symptoms you may experience during this transition. Make sure you get a personalised medical assessment before starting HRT.

Your hair thinning is nothing to be ashamed of, but we know anything in your appearance can be hard to deal with. It might be worth trying out a new style to help adjust to changing hair. Chat to your hairdresser to find the right style for you.

References:

  1. nhs.uk. n.d. Hair Loss - Women And Hair Loss: Coping Tips. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hair-loss/coping-tips-for-women/ [Accessed 3 October 2020].
  2. Women's Health Concern. 2018. Menopausal Hair Loss | Women's Health Concern. [online] Available at: https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/menopausal-hair-loss/ [Accessed 3 October 2020].
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