Hair Loss: Losing It

July 20, 2010

Menopause is at your doorstep. You've stopped having your periods. You were expecting problems with hot flashes and maybe a lack of libido. But instead, your hair seems less full and you've been making up for thinning brows with an eyebrow pencil.

On the other hand, your chin seems to be compensating for the hair loss everywhere else on your body. You must be thinking: "What the heck is going on here?"

Hair Loss: Normal Phenomena

If you'll excuse the pun, the long and short of it is that facial hair and hair loss are normal phenomena of menopause. It may not seem fair, it may not seem right, but the main thing is to figure out what to do about this new and unpleasant symptom.

Hair loss and facial hair growth are real menopausal phenomena. If you're suffering from these complaints you may be wondering why this is happening to you. You may also be wondering if there's anything you can do to rectify this unpleasant situation.

A spokesman for NAMS (North American Menopause Society), Dr. Lovera Wolf Miller, MD, says that 50% of all menopausal women will experience thinning scalp hair (androgenetic alopecia) as well as facial hair growth (hirsutism) by the age of 50. These symptoms can occur at any time after puberty, but are most common during menopause.  Dr. Miller says that while it is less common for women to have these symptoms, it's easier for them to hide them, since it is rare for women to experience total baldness.

Even so, the one in every two women experiencing these symptoms is not going to find it easy to cope. So says a report published back in 2007 in Clinical Interventions in Aging. A woman's self-image is predicated in large measure upon her complexion and hair. Any damage to these physical attributes can cause great psychological distress as well as what the report calls, "impaired social functioning."

Hair Loss: New Patterns

There is so much talk about the depletion of estrogen stores during menopause that you might have thought this female sex hormone was the culprit behind hair loss and facial hair growth. However, research points to the combined loss of progesterone and estrogen as the cause of menopause hair growth and loss patterns. An article on this topic which appeared in an internationally renowned scientific journal called Annales d'Endocrinologie says that the loss of hair due to menopause at the same time that facial hair begins to sprout is because a new hormonal pattern is established at this time.

Of course, there may be other factors besides menopause at play. Experts site many other causal factors for hair loss and facial hair growth including illness, stress, and genes. Sudden hair loss necessitates blood tests to see if high levels of the male hormone androgen might be present in a woman's system. Androgen can trigger male characteristics in women. It is also a good idea to have diagnostic tests for diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid problems.  

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