If you're noticing that your hair is thinner as you go through menopause, you're not alone. Menopause isn't the only time when hair can suffer, it's thought up to 50% of women experience hair loss at some time in their lives. During the journey through menopause, the growth rate of hair slows down and the rate of hair fall increases.
Menopause can cause hair loss because of the change in hormone balance. As a woman reaches the few years before her periods stop (peri-menopause), her levels of progesterone and oestrogen fluctuate. Oestrogen falls first, and progesterone slowly drops to a similar low level after periods cease completely
You may think that testosterone is a male hormone: and it is, but women also produce small amounts. It's the combination of higher testosterone and progesterone, and less hair-boosting oestrogen that causes hair loss in menopause. Testosterone is also the culprit for those thick facial hairs that grow suddenly out of nowhere!
Signs of Hair Loss
- Wider parting
- Less hair when in a ponytail or in a bun
- Hair looks 'flat' at the roots, no matter what you do with it
- Receding or patchy hairline at the front
- Patchy or thin looking hair over the crown of the head
- More hair in the shower and on your hairbrush
HRT, Hormone Creams and Hair Loss
It's wise to get the dosage of oral or topical hormones checked regularly as menopause progresses. Many women start menopause as oestrogen dominant, and end it with oestrogen and progesterone at a similar level. If a progesterone-only gel or cream is used all the way through menopause and afterwards, hair loss can occur in the 'after' phase. This is because after menopause the hormone balance is different and the progesterone; in relation to oestrogen, may be too high. So see your doctor or specialist to have hormones checked . See this article on progesterone by Dr. Childs
First Things to do for Hair Loss
Growing your hair back won't happen instantly - it will take 1 to 2 months before hair is noticeably thicker, but these tips plus the products I recommend below should help to slow down hair fall in 2 weeks, reduce the effect of testosterone and best of all, stimulate new hair to grow faster.
- Switch to a mild shampoo and conditioner - see my recommendations below.
- Stop the heat! Use a lower heat setting on your hairdryer and stop using straighteners and other heated stylers
- Protect the roots: avoid pulling hair when you brush it and don't pull it up hard into a very tight ponytail or topknot. A loose ponytail is fine.
- Change to a kinder hair colourant, e.g. henna, which strengthens hair - or wait until hair is healthier to redo the colour
- Go a little shorter to reduce weight on the roots - and make hair look thicker
- See your GP, especially if the hair loss is sudden or your scalp becomes itchy, or has very dry patches
- Eat sensibly: hair needs protein, biotin, B vitamins, Zinc and Copper to stay strong and healthy.
- Get your essential fats: take oral fish or flaxseed oils to nourish hair and help prevent dandruff
Products for Hair Loss in Menopause
Caffeine shampoo can cause hair to fall faster initially, this duo contains no caffeine and is gentle enough to use every day. Both are massaged well into the scalp, the conditioner is left on for 1-2 minutes to feed the roots. Great for deep conditioning too. I've used this a few times over the past 10 years and it definitely makes hair grow faster, plus leaves hair glossy and frizz free.
This once a day leave-in scalp treatment boosts regrowth and hair density. It blocks DHT (dihydrotestosterone, converted from testosterone), which as I mentioned above, causes hair loss in menopause. It's applied onto the scalp and massaged in, I use it in the morning for a great - and kind- root boost. For those who prefer a totally natural product, look for products containing Rosemary.
Use on dry hair. The fibres work well to cover a wider parting and thinning on the crown, simply match the fibres to your hair colour to disguise the problem. A great one to use while you wait for your hair to grow.
L-Lysine is an essential amino acid the body uses to produce collagen. Lysine supplements influence the growth stage of hair when taken orally with iron, which is the reason both are prescribed for alopecia. Lysine blocks the production of 5-alpha-reductase Type 2, which is another part of the testosterone battle. If you're vegan, Lysine deficiency is more likely as it is difficult to obtain from diet.
How much to take? The Rushton et al. study showed a 30% reduction in hair fall with 72 mg of iron and 1.5 g of L-lysine daily for a 6 months, but best to check with your GP first.
Ortho-silicic acid drops - just 10 drops a day , taken orally with water boosts the growth and strength of hair and nails, not to mention bones too. I've tested this on my whole family and it works on hair for all ages, even on my hubby's bald patch. Research suggests it has a role in preventing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, (scroll to the Conclusion of this paper): https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/a...
Florisene and Vitamins generally. Clinically proven, Florisene contains L-Lysine, iron, plus biotin and hair boosting vitamins. If you're starting or into menopause It's a good idea to start a good quality multi, plus calcium anyway. Many companies have supplements specially for hair, but check the levels of nutrients they contain. I've found that, very often, a multvitamin has a better spread of nutrition and is cheaper. For a natural, food source superfood, use Chlorella or Spirulina.
Other causes of hair loss
- Pregnancy: can be hormone or stress related
- Vitamin deficiency
- Dieting: hair needs protein to grow
- Breakage from over styling and harsh products
- Stress or shock
- Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism: treated with oral thyroid hormones)
- Genetic - that is, it runs in families
- Alopecia areata or skin infection
Menopause and Alcohol
When I went into peri-menopause in my mid-forties, I couldn't tolerate alcohol at all. Although I'm not a big drinker, not being able to have even one glass of wine without suffering a day-long headache was horrible. This article by Alison Vickery gave me the answer, and now I use a supplement called Daosin, plus Quercetin from Biocare to lower my histamine levels. Peace is restored.
Sources: Tortora and Grabowski NinthEdition. Principles of Antomy and Physiology. Wiley ISBN: 0-471-36697-7
Lamberts Practitioner's Guide to Supplements
Rushton, D. H. (2002), Nutritional factors and hair loss. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology http://www.hpbiotin.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02...