Menopause is a natural process all women have to deal with at some point in their lives. Along with insomnia, hot flashes, and mood swings, many women experience hair loss during menopause.
As a woman, you’re familiar with the effects of changing hormones. Not only have you endured the challenges of puberty, but you’ve been dealing with monthly hormone fluctuations for most of your life. By the time you reach menopause, you may be ready to put some of those challenges to rest but there are still a few hurdles to jump before things start to settle down.
There is hope if you’re dealing with hair loss caused by menopause. There are simple things you can do to keep your hair healthy during menopause. Here’s what you need to know about the effects of menopause on your hair along with simple tips to mitigate hair thinning and hair loss.
Understanding The Hair Growth Cycle
You may think of your hair as a single unit that grows constantly throughout the course of your life. In reality, you have somewhere between 80,000 and 120,000 individual hairs which cycle through various phases of growth and rest. The cycle of hair growth consists of three primary phases:
At any given time, roughly 85% to 90% of your hairs are in the anagen (growth) phase. This phase lasts anywhere from 2 to 6 years and is followed by a transitional phase and then a resting phase. Hairs remain in the telogen (resting) phase for about 3 months after which the dead hairs are shed to make room for new growth. Most people shed 50 to 100 hairs each day.
Hair length is primarily determined by the number of hairs in the anagen phase and how long they remain in that phase. The longer the hair remains in the anagen phase, the longer it will grow. Hair thickness, on the other hand, is a combination of the number of hairs you have and their size. Genetics may play a role in determining hair thickness and texture as well.
How Does Menopause Affect Your Hair?
A woman usually reaches menopause 12 months after her last period. For most women, the menopausal transition starts between the ages of 45 and 55 and it typically lasts about 7 years. During this transitional period, the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone fluctuates. Changing hormone levels lead to a variety of physiological and psychological effects, some of which may begin several years before your last period. This period of time is known as perimenopause.
Though hot flashes and mood swings are two of the symptoms most commonly associated with menopause, hair loss is common as well. Women experience hair loss differently than men, however, so it can sometimes be difficult to notice. Rather than developing noticeable bald spots, women tend to experience overall hair thinning. Some women also experience increased hair shedding.
Estrogen and progesterone play a role in keeping your hair in the growth phase. When production of these hormones declines, it may reduce the length of time hairs spend in this phase. New hair growth may also come in finer which means your hair could become more fragile and prone to breakage. This type of hair loss is known as alopecia areata or female pattern hair loss.
Here are some of the symptoms of menopausal hair loss and hair thinning:
- Thinner ponytail
- Widening part
- Gradual thinning overall
- Receding hairline
Changing hormone levels is one of the primary contributing factors for menopausal hair loss, but others may include nutritional deficiencies, high stress levels, chronic medical problems, and genetic predisposition. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve and maintain hair health.
7 Simple Tips to Maintain Healthy Hair in Menopause
Menopause is a completely natural process and is by no means dangerous. That being said, fluctuating hormone levels can lead to some unpleasant side effects. Certain side effects can impact your mental health, especially things like hair loss which can alter your physical appearance and affect your self-esteem. The good news is you can take certain steps to minimize hair loss and maintain hair health.
Follow these simple tips to keep your hair healthy during menopause:
1. Follow a hair-healthy diet. Healthy hair starts with a healthy diet, so make sure you’re getting plenty of lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruits, and veggies. Include a balance of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet as well and aim to reach your recommended daily allowance for essential vitamins and minerals. You can supplement Omega 3’s (try Omega Krill)
2. Stop smoking. Using tobacco can possibly further decrease your estrogen levels which may make hair loss worse. Smoking can also impede circulation, preventing your hair from getting the oxygenated blood it needs to grow properly.
3. Manage your stress levels. Significant and chronic stress is linked to a specific form of hair loss called telogen effluvium which pushes a large number of hairs from growth into the resting phase. Find ways to work stress reduction methods like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises into your routine.
4. Exercise on a regular basis. Not only can exercise help mitigate menopausal symptoms like mood swings and weight gain, but it helps balance your hormones as well. Exercise also helps boost circulation which is important for healthy hair.
5. Drink plenty of water. Though drinking water may not have an immediate impact on your hair, staying hydrated is essential for overall health and wellness. When you become dehydrated, your hair may become thin and brittle as well, which could make hair loss worse.
6. Be gentle with your hair. During menopause, a higher percentage of your hairs may be in the resting phase – rough treatment could cause some of these hairs to fall out sooner than they otherwise might. Harsh hair styling habits like flat-ironing, curling, and high-heat blow-drying can further damage the hair and make it more prone to breakage. To keep your hair healthy, be gentle with your hair.
7. Consider a prescription treatment. If menopausal hair loss is a serious concern, talk to your doctor about potential treatment options. Topical Minoxidil 2% is an over the counter treatment that has been approved to treat hair loss in women. When used continuously for at least 4 months, many women notice improvements in hair thinning and hair loss.
Menopausal hair loss may have a negative impact on your self-esteem, but just know that the condition may not be permanent. As your hormone levels normalize, your hair may resume its normal growth cycle and you may notice improvements in hair length and thickness. In the meantime, try some of the tips above to keep your hair as healthy as you possibly can.
 https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828511/