Unfortunately, thinning hair is all too common for women going through “the change”. But why does menopause cause hair loss? And how can you treat menopausal hair loss? Whether you’re experiencing perimenopause hair loss or thinning hair during menopause, keep reading for the answers to your questions on menopause hair loss and more.
The Link Between Menopause and Hair Loss
Like grey hair, menopause is a natural part of the aging process that occurs for women around the age of 50. During menopause, the ovaries gradually produce less reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuating hormone levels cause many changes in the body, like hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, insomnia, and even hair loss.
So why does menopause cause hair loss? When we’re younger, hormones like estrogen and progesterone help to extend the growing phase of the hair cycle, allowing your hair to grow more quickly and for longer periods of time.
But with the decline of these hormones that comes with menopause, the growing phase of the hair cycle shortens considerably. As a result, hair grows more slowly. And since your hair is growing more slowly, it isn’t able to replace the hair that is shed as a normal part of the hair growth cycle. As a result, your hair may appear much thinner after a while. This is the process of menopause hair loss in a nutshell.
But don’t panic! For most women experiencing menopausal hair loss, there is nothing medically wrong. While it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure that you don’t have another issue that’s causing your hair loss, menopause hair loss is a natural part of aging.
However, menopausal hair loss doesn’t mean you have to give up on your hair for good! There are plenty of ways that you can treat and disguise the appearance of menopause hair loss (but more on those later).
What Are the Symptoms of Menopausal Hair Loss?
Women experiencing menopause hair loss tend to lose hair differently from men. Whereas men see pronounced areas of thinning in a classic horseshoe shape, women will experience menopausal hair loss as all over thinning. Because thinning hair during menopause is more uniform and subtle, you might not even notice it at first.
If you’re worried about menopause hair loss, here are a few signs to look out for:
- Widening part
- Increased scalp show-through (especially near the hairline or part)
- Smaller ponytail
- More hair on your pillow, hairbrush, or shower drain
- Hair looks limp and is more difficult to style
- Hair breaks off more easily than usual
In rare cases, some women with menopausal hair loss experience pronounced thinning at the crown or the sides of the head.
The sooner you notice these signs of menopause hair loss, the easier it will be to treat it. So if you’re going through the change, keep an eye out!
How Common is Hair Loss During Menopause?
Believe it or not, menopause hair loss is incredibly common. Among postmenopausal women, as many as two-thirds suffer hair thinning or bald spots. Menopause hair loss is common across all ethnic groups. Thinning hair during menopause is also thought to be linked to genetics. So if you have a family member who experienced thinning hair during menopause, you’re more likely to develop it too.
Other Contributing Factors to Menopause Hair Loss
For women experiencing menopause hair loss, the hair loss is almost always the result of fluctuating hormones. However, there are other factors that can cause thinning hair during menopause. For example, stress, medication, illness, and vitamin deficiencies can also contribute to hair loss. These factors can also actually worsen menopausal hair loss.
So if you suspect that you have menopause hair loss, it might be a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure there’s not another underlying issue.
What About Perimenopause Hair Loss?
Perimenopause is the time period leading up menopause itself. During this time, hormone levels begin to change in preparation for menopause. Perimenopause usually begins when a woman is in her mid-40s, though some women skip perimenopause altogether. Since perimenopause hair loss is also rooted in hormonal changes, the symptoms of perimenopause hair loss are similar to those of menopause hair loss. Additionally, you might notice that your hair becomes more dry or dull.
So what can be done about perimenopause hair loss? Since perimenopause hair loss has the same basic contributing factors as menopause hair loss, we recommend treating perimenopause hair loss just as you would treat menopause hair loss, and follow the tips outlined below!
Especially if you are experiencing hair loss a lot before menopause, we recommend that you have a look at this article about hair loss in women in general.
Can You Prevent Menopause Hair Loss?
So what can you do to prevent thinning hair during menopause? Here’s what we recommend:
Preventing Menopause Hair Loss Tip #1: Keep an Eye On Your Hair
As we mentioned before, it’s important to react to early signs of menopause hair loss. Keep an eye on your hair, and if you notice any changes, make an appointment with your dermatologist.
Preventing Menopause Hair Loss Tip #2: Avoid Products with Harsh Chemicals
As we age, our hair becomes more fine and delicate. That’s why it’s so important to choose products that won’t harm the integrity of our already-compromised hair. Instead, look for gentle hair care products with natural ingredients that nourish your hair from the outside in.
Preventing Menopause Hair Loss Tip #3: Be Gentle with Your Hair
With your hair growing more slowly, it’s important to take care of the hair you already have on your head. That means being extra gentle with hot tools and dyes! Overstyling and over-processing can cause hair to break off, which will make your hair appear more thin.
One easy change you can make to help prevent menopause hair loss is to swap out your regular comb for a Wet Brush. The Wet Brush has soft silicone bristles that gently detangle your hair with far less breakage than a traditional comb.