Is Menopausal Hair Loss Permanent?
3 minute read
Thanks to dropping levels of estrogen and progesterone, menopause can be full of not fun and surprising symptoms, like interrupted sleep, hot flashes, a slowing of the metabolism, and hair loss.
Once the hormonal roller coaster known as menopause passes through, many of these menopausal symptoms will vanish. But how about our hair? Is menopausal hair loss permanent?
The good news: hormonal hair loss can grow back after menopause. But before we get to that, it’s important to know that hair goes through cycles of hair shedding and hair regrowth throughout our lives — on average, people usually lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair a day. It sounds like a lot, but it’s normal and most days you barely even notice it.
Like us, our hair goes through growth and shedding phases:
The anagen phase
Most of the hair on your head (85 percent to 90 percent) is in this growing phase, which lasts anywhere between two and eight years.
The catagen phase
This two- to three-week transitional hair phase happens when your hair follicles begin to shrink and it prepares itself to eventually fall out.
The telogen phase
While this two- to four-month phase begins with rest and ends in hair loss. According to the Cleveland Clinic, somewhere around 4 percent of your hair is in this phase at any given time.
Knowing this helps with perspective, especially since you’re shedding hair every single day. Like with most menopausal symptoms , menopausal hair loss happens because your body kind of goes into an estrogen withdrawal.
Think about it: If the hormones swirling around during pregnancy could amp up your hair growth like Rapunzel letting her hair down, it only makes sense that perimenopause and menopause would have the opposite effect on your hair follicles.
Menopausal hair loss happens due to the effects of having more androgens (male hormones) in your body, causing our hair to grow slower and weaker and hair follicles to shrink. Because perimenopause can last for years, this kind of hormonal hair loss often happens gradually.
One good thing: Unlike men, women tend to just thin out overall and don’t generally have concentrated areas of hair loss, or baldness.
Another good thing: Menopausal hair loss can grow back. Your postmenopausal hair might not be the way it was before, but it can grow back.
Here are some ways to slow or stave off menopausal hair loss
Consume essential fatty acids
Eating foods with essential fatty acids, like flaxseeds or flaxseed oil, fish like salmon and tuna, or nuts like walnuts or almonds, can help you get back to healthy hair. A randomized controlled study examining the effects on hair loss of a six-month supplementation with specific omega 3 & 6 and antioxidants found them to “act efficiently against hair loss in improving hair density and reducing the telogen percentage and the proportion of miniaturized anagen hair.”
Manage your stress
Studies show that stress can cause and/or exacerbate hair loss, so doing what you can to stave off stressors, be it meditation or deep breathing exercises, can play a part in slowing hair loss down.
Check your iron levels
Iron deficiencies in women can cause hair loss, say experts but the jury is out on whether adding supplements will help your hair. That said, they won’t hurt if you’re low on iron anyway.
Regular exercise helps to alleviate stress, which in turn can help to alleviate hair loss.
Initially introduced as a drug for high blood pressure, Minoxidil has been found to be an effective hair growth stimulant. It takes patience because it can be months before results show. Note: Minoxidil is not safe to use if you plan on getting pregnant, so definitely use birth control if you still get a period.
Medications that suppress androgens, like Spironolactone, and testosterone enzyme blockers like Finasteride are sometimes prescribed as a hair loss treatment. One study saw 88 percent of women find improvement or didn’t lose any more hair. As with Minoxidil, these aren’t safe to take during pregnancy so be sure to use birth control if that’s a possibility.
Avoid heat styling
Yanking and tugging at your hair with a heat welding tool certainly can’t help weak little hair follicles stay in your head. Plus, they can lead to hair breakage, and can make thinning hair look even thinner.
Look at your meds
Without realizing it, you may already be on medication that causes hair loss. Talk to your doctor about your menopausal hair loss and make sure to mention the meds that you’re on. Perhaps you’re taking something that is exacerbating the problem.
While there’s nothing you can do to stop hair loss during menopause, there are plenty of hair regrowth and scalp care options and treatments out there to consider once it’s past. Give yourself a little TLC today — your crowning glory will certainly appreciate it.