What Causes Hair Loss in Females?

Hair loss is a complicated medical condition regarding difficulties at attaining it causes, outcomes and treatment because of a wide range of interactions between other components of physiology. What we eat, what we do, what emotions do we experience, under what circumstances do we live are just a few variables which deviate enormously and enter various associations with other factors. Like other medical situation in our body, hair loss deviates from particular factors and apart from a general perspective, I will mention female hair loss. I will summarize and try to integrate scientific findings about related issues on this topic.

What causes hair loss in females? Almost everything that is relevant to our health is associated with hair growth. If our body is not healthy, our hair could be very susceptible to imbalances and deficiencies. However, there are some consistent causes for female hair loss as many studies provided. Genetic factors, iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, hormonal imbalances, postpartum period, seasonal changes, low protein diets, telogen effluvium and menopause comprise leading factors for female hair loss. Among these causes hormonal imbalances and genetic predisposition doubled the effects of each other. There are different clinical categories of hair loss for females. I tried to summarize them under different topics and emphasized the causes of them specifically.

According to statistics, more than one third of women experience problematic hair loss at least one time in their life. It creates disturbances on sufferer’s daily life. One of the most common form of female hair loss is female-pattern baldness and also called androgenic alopecia stems from genetic factors. It could show up any time after puberty comes.  It locates at the central part of the scalp most often. This form of hair loss may increase gradually starting from low to severe levels. Other symptoms may include hair thinning, shortening, and loss of hair pigmentation. All these symptoms generally signal the problematic progression of the hair loss.

One of the most recommended treatment of female-pattern baldness is minoxidil. Approximately 30 weeks after its application results showed %60 hair growth on affected area. Unfortunately, this treatment brings other costs. Its most disturbing side effect is rise of amount of facial hairs. In addition to that, it leads to some other skin related problems like dryness, irritation, contact eczema etc. There are other studies indicate headache as a side effect of minoxidil treatment of hair loss.

Early Hair Loss

Early hair loss can be seen in both sexes, but it is more common at females because of different developmental progressions of their body. It starts in infancy and may last to adolescents. It has a genetic component as a cause and especially is resulted from the mother’s genes. It is generally overestimated because even the incidence rate of 20 to 29-year-olds’ hair loss is only 3 percent which makes it relatively rare compared to other types of hair loss. Local treatments are advised.

Hair Loss After Menopause

Women could experience hair loss after menopause suddenly or gradually. This situation may occur both from genetic components or other changes in the body. Generally, reasons for alopecia after menopause does not have a single cause.  There are lots of hormonal alterations in the body after menopause.

In hair loss cases after menopause have sub-factors in accordance with different structural deficiencies at hair follicles and scalp. For instance, in a study it is found out that %37 of women who went through menopause and have hair loss problem falls within the category of male-pattern baldness. Apart from minoxidil finasteride treatment is found to be effective in the post-menopausal hair loss.

Age is a significant factor for hair loss and menopause worsens it because of the reduction at the levels of estrogen in the body. Estrogen constitutes a protective factor for hair loss. It enhances hair growth and regulates the hair growth cycle. That is why irregular menstrual cycle represent another small portion factor of hair loss in women.  Not only reduction of estrogen but also rise of testosterone may play a role at post-menopausal hair loss. Addition of low ferritin levels and thyroid impairment represent a general hormonal imbalance effect on hair loss.

Postnatal Hair Loss

This type of hair loss is relatively more common than other types because it has traceable natural factors corresponds to pregnancy related alteration at the body. During pregnancy, estrogen levels stabilize at high levels. This makes hair growth cycle at a phase that usual hair loss does not occur during pregnancy because estrogen does not allow hair to fall. Thus, hair loss during pregnancy stays under the normal levels. Since our body constantly work to sustain equilibrium, amount of hair that did not fall during pregnancy starts to fall after delivery.

Some argue that breastfeeding is responsible for post-partum hair loss but there are no consistent findings that underpin such an effect of breastfeeding. Hair often regenerates itself after at least a few weeks. Healthy diet suggested supplements will help the process and knowing there is nothing to worry about will relieve stress and promote your internal functioning as well.

Season and Hair Loss

Our hair growth cycle is affected by season as well. Generally, autumn is the risky season for hair growth cycle and corresponding months are the endings of August and September. Human hair structure has a regulatory which is androgen. Androgen stimulates various parts of the body for various hair (i.e. beard, pubic hair etc.) in response to particular adaptational necessities. It also inhibits hair growth and causes baldness. However, in seasonal hair shedding estrogen is thought to be the regulatory hormone. Thus, the season could be one of the reasons for female hair loss.

Telogen Effluvium and Stress Factors

Telogen effluvium is considered to be one of the important causes of hair loss. Telogen effluvium refers to hair loss in response to the dramatic changes in the body. It causes more than 300 hair loss in a day. This condition usually results from stress factors in the body. Some illnesses, hormonal imbalance, dietary deficits, malfunction of hormones engender the risk factors for hair loss. Treatment composed of restoring to a previous state of the physiological changes.

Unfortunately, cases in which there is an interaction between telogen effluvium and hair loss, there are significant problems of sufferer’s lives as subject matter. Hair loss could yield stress as much as a serious disease does. Psychological distress may affect the hair growth cycle in the way of increasing inflammation and damaging the hair growth pathways.

Stress impacts our body divergently. It evokes several responses for different structures and systems at the body. These pathways participate at various associations in terms of social, psychological and emotional aspects. Therefore, stress management is recommended as a part of a treatment besides medications.

Iron Deficiency and Hair Loss

A decrease of the levels of iron in the body have an impact on hair growth cycle and generate a factor for hair loss. Iron deficiency is responsible for some hair diseases because it contributes to rapid growing process of hair. Especially enough dietary intake is important for eliminating this factor. This form of iron deficiency effects the ferritin levels at liver. Its effect on hair loss is observed and iron supplementation is found to be an effective treatment.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Hair Loss

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome refers to a situation in which a number of cysts are formed in ovaries resulted from high levels of male hormones, especially androgen. Ovulation becomes irregular, facial hairs and acne may occur and menstruation may diminish sometimes and does not show up monthly. It is a common syndrome that affects many women’s lives in terms of making difficult socializing and causing psychological distress.

This too levels of androgen in female body also affects hair growth. Some investigations find a link between high androgen levels and hair loss. From this link, doctors also suggest that hair thinning, and hair loss could be one of the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.  Treatments for female pattern baldness is also suggested for this kind of hair loss because of the similar underlying reasons.

Low Protein Diet and Hair Loss

Protein is a fundamental component for our body since it helps chemical processes of our body in terms of growing and regenerating of cells. Hair structures includes protein fibers like other blocks of our body. If our diet does not include sufficient amount of protein, your body starts to consume from your stocks. Since your hair cells does not carry much survival value, the change of physiological distribution of nutrition will become poor for hair follicles.

Related Questions

How Do I Know If I’m Losing My Hair Female?

Hair loss is easily detectable. You can check your scalp for partial gaps. Also, you may attend to the amount of hair falling out from your scalp daily. Lastly, you can compare the current volume of your hair with past volume. It is not much you can do about it at home conditions. If you are suspecting from serious hair loss problem, you should see a doctor. In hospital conditions there are four ways to diagnose your hair loss:

  1. A rigorous examination of possible factors such as recent stressful events, hormonal changes, possible nutritional alterations which may cause your hair loss problem. Most importantly, information about the menstrual cycle could be an important indicator of your problem.
  2. Photo of your scalp would be a good option to see your progress. Neither the doctor nor you can remember the exact same situation before you started for the treatment.
  3. Wash test for the examination of lost hairs during the washing process. Women wash their hair for five days in a bowl and collect the fallen hairs.
  4. Dermoscopy is a photographic method that analyzes scalp and is used for different diagnosis about hair. Dermoscopy can reveal the hairs with different caliber and pigmentation.

Why Do Women’s Hair Fall Out?

As I mentioned, there are lots of physiological comorbidities of hair loss as causal factors. If your hair loss results from any of these factors there would be noticeable changes in your body. Here are some indication of other symptoms and hair loss:

  • Iron deficiency related hair loss: Headache, fatigue, and pale skin are common signs of iron deficiency
  • Telogen Effluvium: If you are struggling from living conditions, like a disease, intense stress, get through from surgery your hair loss could result from telogen effluvium. It could be harder to overcome such negativities, so stress management helps to manage your life. 
  • Genetic disposition: If your mother or father have hair loss problems as well, it could explain your problem in similar situations. For example, if you are at the age of 45 and your mother had similar problems related to hair at that age, it is more likely the genetic disposition contributes to your hair loss.
  • Vitamin B12: It is a very important vitamin for our red blood cells and nerves. An especially vegan diet could deprive of vitamin B12 because it is found at the egg, milk, red meat, chicken, fish, yogurt and cheese.

What Causes Hair Loss at Temples?

One of the reasons for hair loss at temples is female-pattern baldness. As I stated before it is resulted from excess levels of androgen in the body. If you are frequently using tight ponytail, it could damage to hair at your temples and leads reduction of hair amount. Smoking, low quality diet, lack of exercise, hormonal imbalances are other potential reasons for your hair loss at temples.

What Is the Best Treatment for Women’s Thinning Hair?

Actually, it depends on the diagnosis you have, particular causal factors, and the period of your life. However, since the hair thinning is a sign of hair loss, later on, minoxidil count as the best way to solve the issue. It contains a cutaneous liquid which is applied to the bald area of your scalp. Its effects can be observable within the 6 months. However, if treatment left incomplete, its effects diminish. Unfortunately, it has side-effects as all treatments have. In some cases, there will be facial hair.

Prevention of Hair Loss

I emphasized several tips for hair loss. However, here is a summarization for prevention of hair loss. If you are experiencing some symptoms you can check this list.

  • Consuming natural products: Pharmacological products that are designed for hair loss prevention and includes components for promoting hair growth is a good option to prevent hair loss problem. 
  • Having a healthy diet: I stated before that nutritional deficiency affects our hair dramatically. Having a balanced diet, consuming lots of antioxidants and giving weight to protein in your diet constitutes a protective factor. 
  • Avoiding bad habits: The Importance of your state of health for your hair growth should be underestimated. Smoking, consuming alcohol and fast food are threats for your health and if your health worsens your hair will directly be affected by that. 
  • Regular Exercise: Exercise does not directly affect your hair but it affects your physiological and psychological health. It helps to regulate your stress level as well as hormonal imbalances.
  • Minoxidil: Minoxidil is a treatment for most of the hair diseases. Since it stimulates the growth process of hair, it is used as a prevention technique as well. It can be found at cosmetic products.

Savaş Ateş

I'm a hair loss expert. The picture was taken 10 years ago :) I have been losing my hair. So I started to learn everything about hair loss and hair transplants. I contacted a lot of hair transplant doctors. We shared our experiences. I'm writing blog posts for people who have the potential of losing their hair. I give some tips about hair transplants and medical issues too.

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