Hair loss and balding is something that is normally associated with men. Surprisingly however, over 40% of hair loss associated with Americans is made up of women (1). Whilst for men it is often expected and bald men can actually still retain their masculinity and sex appeal (2), for women it is a different story. The loss of hair, balding or thinning can be utterly devastating with huge emotional turmoil that affects every life choice she makes. Her self esteem, independence and emotional/mental state may be changed forever.
Why Does Hair Fall Out?
This is the million dollar question! Of course, the short answer is that hair loss occurs for many different reasons. Poor hair health and hair loss can occur from:
- Medication side effects
- Poor dietary habits
Whatever the cause, hair loss for both men and women can be life changing.
Take Home Note:
Hair loss is a common ailment suffered by many and caused by a variety of reasons. Some of the above we can address such as diet and stress. Others are totally out of our control such as aging so learn which ones you can help and those that you need to let go of.
Gender Differences In Hair Loss
When Samson’s locks were shorn, the message was clear – a man’s hairstyle is significant (3). Fast forward several thousand years, styles have changed and generally, men tend to wear their hair shorter so balding or thinning hair for a man doesn’t always have the same emotional impact that it can for a women.
For women, healthy hair and feeling good about themselves is steeped in historical and religious dogma. Not only is a healthy head of hair a biological sign of being fertile, ‘your crowning glory’ is a significant factor in symbols of femininity, identity, freedom, beauty and liberation (4). No wonder bad hair days can leave many feeling helpless, ugly and depressed. With an average expenditure of $50,000 on her hair throughout her lifetime, the importance of healthy hair has never been so obvious.
Take Home Note:
Women are harder hit emotionally when it comes to thinning or balding hair. The root cause can often be totally out of their control so creative thinking can often be the only tool left to get you out of the house. A beautiful wig could be the answer for some whilst working on diets utilizing nutritional health supplements could work for others.
What Is Female Pattern Baldness?
FPB, also known as androgenic alopecia is the loss of hair similar to male balding albeit with slight differences in the pattern. For men, the first signs are usually a receding hairline, for women, what appears is a general thinning across the central area of the scalp (5).
The cause of this balding and thinning is related to a genetic predisposition to the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). When DHT levels rise, the hair follicles begin to shrivel and hair growth is affected (6).
Take Home Note:
If hair loss is left untreated, the issue can become irreversible – don’t ignore it!
What Treatments Are Available to Combat Hair Loss?
Hair loss can seem like the end of the world but if you are suffering hair loss, there is help available. First of all, you should get some therapy to help adjust to the emotional upheaval of losing your hair and for your life changing as you know it. If you are stressed from losing your hair, the stress will actually exacerbate the situation and that is exactly what you don’t want. These are some of the things you can start with (2):
- Stop using harsh chemical products on your hair. Don’t wash your hair daily and only use quality products that do not contain harsh abrasives or chemicals inside them.
- Stop wearing your hair in a high ponytail, the stress can damage hair follicles and increase the loss of hair.
- Cut your hair shorter to reduce the strain on your hair that long hair can bring.
- Don’t brush your hair whilst wet as this can stretch and damage the hair leading to brittle and damaged hair.
- Stay out of the sun! Ultraviolet light damages hair just as it damages skin.
- Introduce Biotin rich foods to your daily diet. Foods that are rich in biotin include peanuts, almonds, wheat bran, salmon, low-fat cheese, and avocados
- Consider methods to distress such as yoga and gentle exercise. Meditation may also be effective.
- Consider a quality health supplement that includes Saw Palmetto and Beta Sitosterol, both of which have been shown to help combat the effects of high levels of DHT.
Take Home Note:
Many people feel helpless when hair loss starts to affect them. With some minor changes in diet and lifestyle could actually slow down the process and make sure that hair remains healthy.
Female Hair Loss During Menopause
After menopause, 40% of women are likely to experience thinning hair due to hormonal changes (7). A similar fate befalls women after giving birth so hormones as a contributing factor is most likely the obvious suspect. Hair professionals often suggest a mix of both pharmaceutical and lifestyle changes to women experiencing menopause-related hair-loss problems. As we mentioned above, there are certain things that can be done to minimize the loss, which is a great start.
However, during this challenging time, women may also want to consider supporting their body using effective herbal medication such as natural health supplements for controlling menopausal symptoms, which includes hair loss or thinning (8). Research suggests that some of the most effective remedies include:
- Sage herb (Salvia officinalis)
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
- Valeriana officinalis
- Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
- Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
- Black cumin (Nigella sativa)
- Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
- Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)
- Ginkgo biloba
- Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
- Hypericum perforatum
- Panax ginseng
- Pimpinella anisum
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Passiflora incarnata
- Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
- Glycine soja
Take Home Note:
If menopause is playing a part in the loss of your hair, visiting a nutritionist could help you better understand what herbal remedies could help. Find a qualified professional and do your own research to better understand which herbs you can add to you daily diet.
Hair Loss – Bottom Line
There is no getting around how difficult hair loss can be when it starts to affect your everyday life. We cannot underestimate the damaging emotional impact that it can have for both men and women. However, we say, fight back. Try adopt some of the strategies that we have mentioned above and reach out for help. This is not something that you should have to suffer with in silence and by yourself. You are not alone.