Menopause is a tough phase in a woman's life, which marks the end of menstrual cycle. This transition from fertility to infertility stage is marked by physical and emotional changes. On top of these effects, hair thinning problem is reported by 50 - 75 percent of menopausal women. But, what is the link between menopause and hair loss? Are there any remedial measures to reduce hair thinning during this transitional period? Let's look into the causes and treatment of hair loss in menopausal women.
Does Menopause Cause Hair Loss?
Lots of hormonal fluctuations occur when a woman enters her menopausal stage. They are the root causes for manifesting mild to serious menopausal symptoms. Hair loss during and after menopause is no exception. Yes, as a woman approaches her menopausal years, the synthesis of estrogen (a female hormone that triggers hair follicles to produce hair) is reduced significantly. This brings about elevated production of testosterone, which is nothing but a male hormone.
A sudden drop in estrogen level and increased testosterone level are the prime reasons for hair loss in women who are in their menopausal years. Elevation of testosterone hormone is also responsible for triggering hair loss and pattern baldness in men. This hormone acts on the hair follicles and stops hair production. Nevertheless, unlike men, menopausal women react to increased testosterone hormone in a different way. They exhibit significant thinning of hair, and not male pattern baldness.
For menopausal women, it is also not unusual to notice thinning of individual hair strands, which again worsens hair loss. This is also a referred sign of reduced estrogen level. In addition to this factor, loss of hair and reduction in diameter of hair strands are affected by increased stress levels and aging process. We all have a brief idea about how stress causes hair loss. As far as aging induced hair loss is concerned, the hair follicles no longer produce and replace hair like before, resulting in hair thinning.
Dealing with Menopausal Hair Loss
The approaches for treating the symptoms are focused on addressing the root cause, i.e. hormonal imbalance. Treating at the hormonal level brings improvement in hair growth and other menopause symptoms, such as insomnia, mood swings, weight gain, decreased libido, fatigue, headache and changes in appetite. For dealing with hair loss during menopause, prescription drugs and stringent lifestyle modifications are recommended to get best results.
It is to be borne in mind that hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) proceeded with administration of estrogen does cause side effects. Hence, one should discuss the benefits and negative effects of this therapy before receiving the same. A safe way to restore normal hair growth is following herbal remedies based on non-estrogenic herbs (e.g. macafem) and phytoestrogenic herbs (e.g. ginseng, black cohosh). The former stimulates the body's endocrine system to regulate hormonal levels. On the contrary, phytoestrogenic herbs replenish estrogen to treat hair loss and other menopause symptoms.
Though the results of alternative medicine for treating hair loss in menopausal women may not be as drastic as popping tablets or applying ointments, it causes little or no side effects. Thus, herbal medicine is touted as a natural way to reduce hair loss and menopause symptoms. Coming to lifestyle changes for treating hair loss in menopausal women, they include alcohol abstinence, cutting down caffeine intake, consuming well-balanced diet and performing exercises. If lack of nutrients is one of the causal factors for hair loss, the doctor may prescribe nutritional supplements to address it effectively.
Since stress is also a prime factor for causing hair loss in menopausal women, adopting stress management techniques is a part of eversing hair loss problem. Hence, women in their menopausal years should participate in yoga, meditation and other relaxation exercises to manage stress properly. Last but not the least, hair transplantation and/or replacement surgeries are other alternatives for treating severe hair loss and female pattern baldness. Like other types of surgical intervention, they are very expensive and cause postoperative complications.
The bottom line is, there is a strong connection between menopause and hair loss. It is indeed disheartening to deal with menopausal symptoms and hair loss at the same time. Instead of stressing oneself about the same and worsening the symptoms, it is always better to seek medical advice and explore the treatment alternatives. Needless to mention, following proper hair care tips, like massaging the scalp with oil, gentle combing and using safe products along with the doctor's recommendations are necessary to get effective results.