Hormone-related hair loss in women is called androgenetic alopecia. It typically involves a gradual thinning of the hair on the top and front of the head and is different from male-pattern baldness in that the front hairline remains intact. Because such hair loss relates to imbalances of hormones, the sudden fluctuations in hormonal levels that accompany menopause can be a precipitating factor. Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone appear to be the primary hormones involved in androgenetic alopecia, according to the American Hair Loss Association. But there are ways to stop the hair loss due to menopause.
How to Stop Menopause Hair Loss
Pursue diagnosis and treatment early. When these are delayed, hair loss that could have been reversed may become permanent as the follicles move from dormancy to death.
Seek out a doctor with knowledge and experience in treating women with hair loss. It is OK to start with a generalist, but determining and achieving the proper balance of chemicals for your body requires a high level of specialization. Endocrinologists, reproductive endocrinologists and dermatologists are likely to know more about female hair loss than other doctors.
Look at life conditions and nutrition. These can influence hair loss, so, with the help of your doctor, it is worth ruling them out before proceeding to more involved and expensive testing and treatment. Emotional stress, physical stress (such as illness), rapid weight loss and certain medications can cause problems with your hair. Deficiencies of vitamin A, vitamin D, protein and iron can, too. Lifestyle alterations, dietary changes and dietary supplements can help.
Have your doctor examine your thyroid and hormone status. Nurse practitioner Marcy Holmes, a certified menopause clinician, recommends the following tests: a hormone panel; a metabolic panel; a fasting insulin test; a test for iron deficiency; a CBC with differential (a hematological panel); allergy testing; and a thyroid function test.
Pursue treatment that addresses whatever issues your tests have identified. Minoxidil 2 percent topical treatment, sold under the brand name Rogaine, is the only treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for female-pattern hair loss. It works better for women than for women but still generates only mild to moderate hair growth and does not work for everyone, according to the American Hair Loss Association. Other treatments that are commonly ordered, despite lack of an FDA indication for female hair loss, are the antiandrogenic medications spironolactone and cimetidine; estrogen and progesterone pills and creams, which are the most common systemic treatments for hair loss in menopause; and oral contraceptives.
Tips & Warnings
- Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit against Natural Hair Growth Institute, a Chicago firm that had claimed its services, which typically cost $8,000 to $12,000, could help with hair growth. The treatment, in fact, "fails to produce the results as advertised and the company then refuses to provide full refunds to consumers, even after repeated requests," according to the attorney general's office.