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Menopause and Hair

The link between menopause and hair - Hair Threads, a blog by EarthKind

We ask our founder, leading Trichologist Tony Maleedy, about the link between menopause and the hair.

What happens to a woman’s hair at menopause?

In many women menopause has no effect on their hair, good or bad, but a relatively high proportion experience excessive hair loss. By the age of 50 approximately 25% of women in the UK will have lost some hair, this rises to 60% by 70 years of age. In many it is a minor problem affecting only a small proportion of their hair, but in others the hair loss and reduction in hair growth can lead to significant hair thinning.  

Why does the hair become thinner?  

One of the effects of the female hormone oestrogen is to prolong the growing phase of the hair cycle allowing hair to grow long. At menopause the level of oestrogen falls so, in most women, they find they cannot grow their hair as long as they used to - this is why longer hair is usually associated with women of child-bearing age. But in addition to this, a relatively high proportion of women also experience hair thinning to varying degrees. 

This hair loss is caused by the effects of the male hormones, androgens, which are present in women at low levels. As the level of oestrogen reduces the androgens restrict the hair’s ability to grow as well as it should in women with a genetic predisposition. This results in a characteristic thinning of the hair on the front and top of the scalp. 

What can be done to help prevent hair thinning due to menopause?  

Good general health is always important. Hair thinning is more likely to occur if a woman is ill or run down. Gentle exercise and a good well-balanced diet can help greatly.

Don’t be afraid of washing your hair frequently. It is a myth that washing hair will make it fall out more. If a hair is going to fall out it will fall out if you wash your hair or not. In fact, it’s more likely to fall out if you don’t wash your hair. Quite simply, the cleaner and healthier your hair and scalp the better.

Consulting a qualified trichologist (see the Institute of Trichologist’s website, or a dermatologist (which may have to be privately) can help, because they will be able to diagnose the condition and differentiate it from other possible causes such as those which are stress or diet related. They may also recommend a treatment that can help stop hair thinning in a significant proportion of women.