Menopause hair loss? Here's what you need to know

Natalie Cornish
·4-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Red Online

Menopause side effects and symptoms such as hot flushes and brain fog are well documented, but menopause hair loss doesn't get as much attention. Even though it can be just as tough to navigate.

Losing your hair at any age can be difficult to deal with, but particularly during the menopause when hormonal changes can affect your mood and your confidence. The first thing to note, however, is that hair thinning and falling out in your 40s and 50s is common. In fact, this often starts during perimenopause – and can often be halted with the right treatment.

Dr Sharon Wong, a consultant dermatologist and trichologist based at The Shard in London, tells Red: 'Approximately 40% of women experience hair loss during the menopause, although this is likely an underestimation and in many cases the hair changes are noted progressively for some years in the lead up to menopause.'

'A number of changes are commonly reported including loss of volume and generalised thinning all over, hairs becoming finer and poor or slow growth, as well as a change in texture with increased dryness and brittleness of hair.

'Menopause is also a time which coincides with the onset of Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL) – the female equivalent of male pattern balding, with loss of density and thinning specifically over the crown. The parting progressively becomes wider and the scalp starts to show through the hair more.'

Dr Wong often sees women in her clinic who are experiencing menopause hair loss. Here she answers their most commonly asked questions...

Can the menopause cause hair loss?

'Many of the changes that happen to the skin and hair in menopause relate to the sharp reduction in female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) and the relative increase in male hormones (androgens).

'Oestrogen retains the hair in the growing phase. The deficiency of oestrogen in menopause means women often experience more hair shedding, slower growth, finer hair, generalised hair thinning and volume loss.

'Women who have a family history of common balding may also have genetically hypersensitive hair follicles which pick up male hormone signals more readily. The relative rise in androgens can therefore kickstart or worsen the balding process, with loss of density specifically on the crown and parting that is typical for FPHL.'

How can I stop hair loss during menopause?

'Some forms of HRT may help in slowing, or even halting, the progression of hair loss – although it is important to know that this may not be effective in all women on HRT and indeed some forms of HRT can exacerbate hair loss.

'To date the only licensed treatment for hair loss in women is Minoxidil, to be applied topically at 5% once daily. However there are a number of off-license medications which can be prescribed to treat hair loss from your doctor.

'It is important to note that the aim of treatment is stabilise the hair loss and prevent any worsening. Some patients may also experience increased hair growth and improved density with long term medication.

'It is always best to consult a doctor who specialises in hair to correctly identify the cause of hair loss and target treatments accordingly.'

What vitamins are good for hair loss during menopause?

'Certain vitamins such as iron and vitamin D can impact hair growth and should be supplemented if blood tests reveal there is a deficiency.

'However, there is little evidence to support blanket supplementation to support hair growth where there is no specific deficiency in the first place.'

Can menopause cause an itchy scalp?

'The increased dryness and thinning does mean the skin is more sensitive and prone to problems like eczema, which can happen to any part of the skin including the scalp.

'Hormone changes can trigger acne-like spots, whilst the menopausal flushing can be so intense for some women it can bring on or flare pre-existing rosacea.'

Are there any positives to menopause hair loss?

'Less hair on the arms, legs and pubic area – so no need to shave or wax!'

If you're are concerned about menopause hair loss, contact your GP for advice and support.

Dr Sharon Wong [BSc (Hons), MBBS (Distinct), MRCP. MRCP (UK) DERM] is a Consultant Dermatologist based at The Shard, London and provides medical and surgical treatments for a range of skin and hair conditions. Find out more here.

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