7 Causes of Hair Loss in Women
- You’re not the only woman losing your hair. Here’s why.If your hairbrush seems fuller or your ponytail seems shorter, you’re in good company. More than 50% of women have excessive hair loss, or alopecia. The leading cause is heredity, but other factors can contribute. You’re more likely to have noticeable hair loss if you’ve just had a baby, are over 40, or are experiencing menopause. Extreme stress, medications, and even hair styling can play a role. For many women, knowing why hair loss happens makes it easier to handle.
- 1. Hair StylingSome styles are hard on hair. Yours may be pulling on your roots and damaging your hair follicles. This damage can be permanent. Tight ponytails, braids, and hair extensions all tend to pull. The intense heat of blow dryers and flat irons isn’t so hair-healthy, either. Try to limit using them. Cut back on long-lasting styling products and hair brushing, too. You don’t have to make a “forever” change. Just try a new routine to see if it helps.
- 2. Female Pattern Hair LossYou may have heard of male pattern baldness, the leading cause of hair loss in men. Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is the leading cause of hair loss in women. Both conditions are hereditary. In men, hair loss tends to start with a receding hairline and thinning at the crown. In women, hair loss tends to start at the top of the head. Think of a center part growing wider. During menopause, the loss of estrogen can exacerbate FPHL.
- 3. Extreme Stress and Physical ShockHaving a baby causes emotional stress and physical shock uniquely experienced by women. The resulting hair loss is usually temporary. Surgeries, illnesses, dramatic weight loss, and psychological stress can also cause temporary hair loss in women and men. In extreme cases, up to 70% of hair can shed in large clumps. If this happens, don’t panic. But do talk with your doctor. It’s important to identify the underlying cause, which may need to be treated.
- 4. MenopauseFor women, there’s no avoiding it. Menopause is a natural process, and hair loss can come with it. During menopause, levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone fall, and levels of the male hormone androgen rise. Hair growth slows, and hair follicles shrink. After menopause, up to two-thirds of women have hair thinning or bald spots. If your hair loss makes you self-conscious, ask your doctor about hair loss medication and hair transplantation for women.
- 5. MedicationsChemotherapy and radiation for cancer may be the first treatments that come to mind as having the potential side effect of hair loss. There are many more, including: beta blockers and calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen; antidepressants; birth control pills; and retinols, commonly used in “anti-aging” creams. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of your current medications, including any supplements, and changes that can be made safely.
- 6. Thyroid ProblemsThe thyroid hormone helps develop and maintain hair follicles. When the thyroid doesn’t work properly, temporary hair loss can occur not only on the scalp, but also on other parts of the body, including the eyebrows. If you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), Graves’ disease, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ask your doctor about the hair loss implications. The good news is that once thyroid levels are well-managed, excessive hair loss usually stops.
- 7. Vitamins and MineralsIron deficiency (ID) is the most common mineral deficiency. It can lead to anemia (low volume of red blood cells) and has been shown to cause hair loss. Vegetarians tend to be at higher risk of ID because they don’t get iron from eating meat. Taking too much vitamin A, vitamin E, or selenium can also cause hair loss. Watch out for supplements with high doses, even if they’re advertised for hair health, and ask your doctor’s advice.
Hair Loss in Women | Causes of Hair Loss