For women, menopause is a period of significant body changes that can impact various aspects of their lives, including their hair. Menopause hair loss can cause distress and frustration, but recognising the symptoms, understanding the causes, and exploring solutions and treatment options can help you cope and deal with the situation better. So if you’re experiencing hair thinning during menopause, you can get valuable insights and advice on managing menopause-related hair loss and be empowered to overcome this challenging time.
Symptoms of Menopause Hair Loss
Menopausal hair loss is a common symptom experienced by many women during this period, which can manifest in different ways:
Thinning Hair: Decreased Volume and Density
A noticeable symptom of menopause-related hair loss is thinning hair. You may see a decrease in your hair volume and density, especially if your once-thick hair appears thinner and less substantial. Due to hormonal changes during menopause, the normal hair growth cycle is disrupted, resulting in the production of finer, weaker hair strands.
Receding Hairline: Hairline Changes and Widening Part
Another symptom of hair loss during menopause is a receding hairline. You might notice your hair gradually thinning and receding from the forehead, making the forehead appear wider.
Increased Hair Shedding: Excessive Hair Fall
While some hair shedding is normal, excessive hair fall is a cause for concern and may be a symptom of menopause-related hair loss. You may notice increased hair shedding during washing or brushing, or you can see large amounts of hair accumulating in your hairbrush, pillows, drain traps, or shower floors.
How Menopause Causes Hair Loss and Thinning
Does menopause cause hair loss? Short answer is yes, it can. Menopause is a transformative phase in your life characterised by a range of hormonal changes, and alongside several other symptoms, hair loss and thinning are frequently experienced during this period.
The Role of Hormones in Hair Growth
Menopause and hair loss are intertwined because hormones play a vital role in hair growth. Changes in your hormones during menopause disrupt the delicate balance in your body. The role of oestrogen and progesterone is crucial in promoting hair growth and maintaining its quality. Because your oestrogen levels decline significantly during menopause, your hair growth cycle is affected, resulting in shorter hair growth phases and thinner, more brittle hair.
Depletion of Oestrogen and Its Effects on Hair
Oestrogen helps prolong the anagen or growth phase of your hair cycle, leading to longer, thicker hair. As oestrogen gets depleted during menopause, the anagen phase becomes shorter, causing your hair to shed faster. Oestrogen also contributes to increasing blood flow to your scalp and ensuring hair follicles are adequately nourished. With your oestrogen levels declining during menopause, the nutrients received by your hair follicles are reduced, resulting in weaker hair and increased hair loss.
Increased Cortisol Levels and Hair Loss
Higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, can also disrupt your hair growth cycle. Menopause is associated with an increase in cortisol levels, showing another correlation between hair loss and menopause. Cortisol can trigger inflammation and disrupt hair follicle function, leading to a condition called telogen effluvium where your hair enters the resting phase prematurely and sheds excessively.
Testosterone and Its Impact on Hair Growth
Testosterone, a hormone present in both men and women, can be converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can shrink your hair follicles and shorten your hair growth phase. As your hormonal balance shifts during menopause, the ratio of your oestrogen to testosterone changes, leading to increased hair loss and thinning.
Managing Menopause Hair Loss
Menopause hair loss is a distressing experience, but the good news is there are strategies you can do to manage and minimise its effects. Do a comprehensive approach and focus on addressing underlying causes, promoting hair health, and exploring potential treatments:
Lifestyle Changes for Hair Health
To maintain hair health during menopause, you have to make certain lifestyle changes that support the growth and quality of your hair. Here are some key lifestyle changes to help mitigate the effects of menopausal hair loss:
Eat a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet plays an important role in supporting the health of your hair. The best vitamins for menopause hair loss are nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and biotin, as they are crucial for hair growth and strength. Eating food rich in these nutrients can provide the needed building blocks for healthy hair.
Another nutrient that supports hair health and growth is collagen. A protein that provides structure to your hair, skin, and nails, collagen can help you through menopause. Incorporate more collagen into your diet through collagen-rich foods or collagen supplements. Flavourless, colourless collagen powders are great because you can mix them in any food or beverage, making it easier to sustain and enjoy regularly.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking enough water to maintain optimal hair hydration and overall health.
Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise doesn’t just contribute to your overall well-being, it also promotes circulation, including to your scalp. Improving blood flow to your scalp helps deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to your hair follicles, supporting hair growth and health. So engage in physical activities like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming to maintain a healthy body and hair during menopause.
Mitigate the effects of menopause hair loss by managing stress. High stress levels can contribute to hormonal imbalances and disrupt your normal hair growth cycle. Take time for self-care and engage in activities that promote relaxation. Find a way to incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine, like doing meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or therapy, to help reduce stress levels and support your overall well-being during menopause.
Hair Care Tips for Menopausal Hair Loss
Take proactive steps to support your hair and minimise the impact of menopause-related hair loss with proper hair care:
Have a Gentle Hair Care Routine
Choose gentle hair products and minimise the use of heat styling tools as excessive heat can damage your hair shafts and weaken them further. Reduce the tension on your hair follicles and promote healthier hair growth by opting for loose hairstyles and avoiding tight ponytails or braids. Avoid using hairsprays to prevent product buildup that weighs down the hair and makes it appear thinner.
Do Scalp Massage
By massaging your scalp, you can stimulate blood circulation that helps deliver vital nutrients and oxygen to your hair follicles, supporting hair growth and strengthening your hair. You can use your fingertips in circular motions for a few minutes a day. You can also use a silicone scalp brush that also exfoliates buildup and cleanses your scalp, promoting hair growth and eliminating dandruff.
Choose Suitable Hair Products
Choose the best products for menopausal hair loss. Avoid products that contain harsh chemicals, like sulfates and parabens, that strip your hair of its natural oils, contributing to dryness and breakage. Instead, look for products specifically formulated for thinning hair or promoting hair growth, which usually contains ingredients such as biotin, minoxidil, or peptides that nourish the hair follicles.
Try Hair Growth Products
An additional step to manage menopause hair loss is using a hair growth serum or a hair growth booster. Containing active ingredients that target hair loss, these products are applied directly to the scalp where they work to nourish your hair follicles and stimulate growth.
During menopause, you can also lose eyelashes or eyebrow hair. Consider using an eyelash growth serum to nourish and strengthen your lashes. For fuller, thicker eyebrows, you can use an eyebrow growth serum.
Medical Treatment Options
Of course, the best treatment for menopausal hair loss is one that addresses the underlying cause. A healthcare professional can help you explore suitable medical treatments to target your concerns:
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) restores the hormonal balance through the use of oestrogen or oestrogen-progestin combinations.
There are FDA-approved topical treatments like minoxidil, a vasodilator applied directly to the scalp that increases blood flow and stimulates the hair follicles.
For severe menopause hair loss cases, surgical hair transplant can be considered. This involves taking hair follicles from scalp areas that are resistant to hair loss, usually the back or sides, and transplanting them to thinning or balding areas.
Medical treatments may have different effectiveness and potential side effects for each individual, so consult with a health professional first to get your specific situation assessed and determine the suitable course of action for your concern.
Embracing Change and Seeking Support
Can menopausal hair loss be reversed? It is possible. But the essential step in managing menopause-related hair loss is to embrace your changing appearance and shift your focus from external appearances to your overall well-being. You can navigate through this difficult phase with a more positive outlook by emphasising self-care, practising positive self-talk, and engaging in activities that promote self-confidence and self-acceptance.
You should also seek support from friends, family, or support groups to get valuable emotional and practical assistance. By connecting with others who have gone through or are going through similar experiences, you can get a sense of community and understanding as well as a platform for sharing menopause hair loss concerns, tips, and coping strategies. With proper management, you can address not just the physical difficulties of menopause hair loss, but also the emotional challenges that come with this phase in your life.