I found this online today...but I won't advocate any hormones with our condition. The rest, though, we all know too well over 50...

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Hair Loss in Menopause: Why It Happens, What You Can Do

Practical strategies to deal with menopause-related hair loss and facial hair growth

By Nancy Christie

Overnight, it seems, your hair no longer looks or feels quite as full as it used to. You notice you're relying more heavily on your faithful eyebrow pencil to define your brows, and then a wayward hair suddenly sprouts on your chin. What's going on here?

But in fact, hair loss and unwanted facial hair are common female complaints, especially among women in their menopausal years. What causes these issues to occur? Is there anything you can do to correct the problem? Read on to find out what experts recommend.

Facts About Hair Loss in Menopause

According to Lovera Wolf Miller, MD, certified member of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), noticeable thinning of scalp hair (medically known as androgenetic alopecia) occurs in about half of all women by age 50, although it may begin anytime after puberty. "Alopecia is actually as common in women as it is in men, but it's less apparent because it rarely causes balding," Dr. Miller says.

Of course, the fact that hair loss is a widespread problem that you share with many other women doesn't make it any easier to handle. Several studies have shown that the emotional and psychological effects of hair loss are more severe in women than in men, leading to poor self-esteem, social anxiety — even lower job performance.

Causes of Hair Loss in Menopause

While it’s tempting to blame postmenopausal hair changes on a lack of estrogen, research has shown that more than one hormone may be involved in involved in this process. According to an article in Annales d'Endocrinologie, an international science journal, the loss of both progesterone and estrogen during menopause appears to lead to a "hormonal pattern" that is implicated in hair loss as well as an increase in "peach fuzz" on the face.

Other issues can lead to hair loss as well, notes Miller, including a genetic predisposition, unusual levels of stress, hormonal imbalances, and an illness. "If your hair loss is sudden, blood tests should be done to rule out excessive levels of androgen, a hormone that stimulates male sex characteristics. Other diagnostic measures might include thyroid tests, blood-sugar levels, and a rheumatoid evaluation," she says.

Treatment of Hair Loss in Menopause

If you are concerned about hair loss or the growth of unwanted facial hair, Miller recommends you begin with a visit to your doctor for a thorough workup, starting with a review of your diet, activity levels, stress, and other related symptoms. A treatment plan will be based on both your medical and lifestyle information. Experts will often recommend both pharmaceuticals and lifestyle changes.

Medication options. Menopause specialist Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Yale clinical professor of obstetrics/gynecology and coauthor of A Woman's Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause, says that when it comes to treating menopause-related hair loss, she may prescribe a short-term (several month) dose of estrogen to see if that addresses the problem. Another treatment option to consider, she says, is the drug minoxidil (Rogaine). Dr. Minkin cautions, however, that if you're considering minoxidil, it's important to discuss its effects thoroughly with your physician beforehand because you could experience side effects. Miller adds that depending on your particular circumstances, other options might include low-dose steroids or the drug metformin, commonly used for type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle adjustments. Miller also sees a role for less-invasive, everyday measures in hair-loss prevention. She suggests drinking green tea, getting enough vitamin B6, losing weight, and using hyaluronic acid shampoo. All may be helpful in restoring some hair growth in about three to four months, she says. "Fortunately, the upsides outweigh the downsides of these treatments. There is little to be lost and much to gain."

Stress, the bane of modern living, has also been linked to hair loss, says Christiane Northrup, MD, author of The Secret Pleasures of Menopause. According to Dr. Northrup, chronically high levels of insulin and stress hormones can result in excess androgen (a male sex hormone), "which ultimately stops the hair from growing on the head and starts it growing on chin. The best way to treat it is stress reduction of all kinds." This includes getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, and using relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing. As an added benefit, these can all help ease your other menopause-related symptoms as well.

Last Updated: 09/13/2011

Views: 131

Replies to This Discussion

I have long suspected that my AA was triggered by menopause, but have seen no medical confirmation of this possibility. I experienced my first bald patch in my late 40's, right about the time I had my first hot flashes. After about 7 years of patchy but concealable loss, I suddenly went AU. I've never been interested in taking hormones.

I think going through the stresses of menopause contributed to mine also. Found my first bald spots at age 51, almost 52 and I'm officially post now, too. I am just now starting bio-identicals to help me sleep better. It's been two and a half years since I've slept through the night. Maybe all the stress of that and hot flashes was too much body stress and triggered the AA. It's been going on for 11 months now for me.



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