Menopausal Women and Hair Thinning

Overview

The Mayo Clinic defines menopause as the end of a woman’s fertility. Every woman eventually undergoes this phase in life. It may begin as early as your late 30s, becoming more pronounced in your 40s and ends on average in your 50s. As a woman progresses through menopause, it isn’t uncommon to experience symptoms of this biological process. Besides hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, insomnia and menstrual irregularities, menopause also can cause a thinning of hair in women.

Hormonal Changes

The cause of hair thinning, also referred to as androgenetic alopecia or female-pattern baldness, is associated with hormonal changes, namely the decline of both estrogen and progesterone. As a woman ages, the Mayo Clinic explains that her ovaries begin to make less and less estrogen and progesterone. This can create a hormonal imbalance, triggering the symptoms of menopause.

Hair Thinning

Women suffering from androgenetic alopecia as a result of menopause typically notice hair loss over the top and front of the head, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Most people lose roughly 100 to 150 hairs a day. With hair loss, these hairs are often replaced by more superficial growth that lacks the same circumference and length of normal hair. This leads to the appearance of thinning hair

Cause

But menopause alone isn’t the only contributing factor to this condition. It’s also the increased prevalence of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, an androgen derived from testosterone. As a woman goes through menopause, she experiences a decline in estrogen and progesterone, making testosterone a more dominant hormone than normal. This can allow type II 5-alpha-reductace to convert testosterone into DHT.

DHT

According to the American Hair Loss Association, dihydrotestosterone binds to follicles of the scalp, which causes them to shrivel or decrease in size. Once the follicle is smaller than normal, it can no longer produce the same quality of hair. As mentioned before, the hair becomes more superficial, lacking the width and length of normal hair. This creates the appearance of thinning along the top of the head. Over time, the affected follicles cease to even grow superficial hair, leading to baldness.

Treatment

In this situation, women can slow the progression of hair loss as well as encourage new regrowth with hormone replacement therapy. Introducing estrogen and progesterone back into the body can create a hormonal balance, relieving symptoms of menopause. Doctors can recommend the exact form of treatment to fulfill your body’s needs.

About this Author

Dana George has been a freelance writer since 2005, penning numerous articles, web content and marketing collateral for both print and online. His articles have appeared in Healthy Knowledge magazine, Minneapolis Metro Mix, LIVESTRONG and Meefers. His writing credits include Prime Arthur, A Good Ten Acres and Truth in History.