Stress is often cited as a major cause of women's hair loss and many people are quick to assume this position. Whilst it is true that heightened stress levels can lead to increased hair loss, it is not the only cause. Throughout a woman’s life, changes occur in her body and the delicate hormonal balance is upset. These changes in hormones are often the cause of female hair loss. The good news is that in many cases there is effective treatment for women's hair loss.
One in four women suffer from female pattern baldness, a hereditary form of female hair loss similar to male pattern baldness. This is passed on through the genes and causes thinning all over the scalp. Also major illnesses, surgery and diet can all affect the growing cycle and condition of women’s hair. This article discusses some of the common causes of women's hair loss in detail.
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After childbirth, abortion or miss-carriage a woman’s hormones change drastically and this will result in hair loss. During pregnancy, the hairs grow beyond their normal life cycle leading to thick and lustrous looking hair. After the birth, the hairs quickly revert to the Telogen or resting phase and the hair starts to fall out. This can start to happen one to three months after the baby is born.
As the old hair falls out, new hair is growing to take its place. However these are short new hairs, so the appearance of the head of hair will appear thinner than it did during pregnancy. In most cases, by the time the child is one year old, the mother’s hair be growing back nicely. In a small number of cases this does not happen due to health problems, anaemia, stress or bad circulation.
Hair loss during menopause can be due to a variety of imbalances in the body, including a change in hormone levels and genetic activity. During perimenopause, the period leading up to menopause, there are changes to the androgen and oestrogen balance. This leads to the production of more androgen (such as testosterone) and less oestrogen, leading to hair growth where you don’t want it and loss, where you do.
Female Pattern Baldness
One in four women suffer from female pattern baldness, which is a hereditary form of hair loss. Androgenetic Alopecia or female pattern baldness can be inherited from either parent. It occurs over a prolonged period and results in the hair thinning in general, all over the scalp.
Human hair grows at an average of about 1/2 inch per month. Each hair grows for 2 to 6 years, then enters the resting phase and falls out. Usually a new hair will begin to grow in its place. It is estimated that, at any one time, about 85% of the head hair is growing and the remaining 15% is resting.
Baldness occurs when hair falls out but new hair does not grow in its place. The cause of the failure to grow new hair in female pattern baldness is not well known, but it is understood to be associated with the genes, aging, and levels of hormones particularly androgens, the male sex hormones.
Changes in the levels of androgens can affect hair production. For example, after the menopause, many women find that their head hair has thinned and some experience their facial hair becoming coarser. Although new hair is not produced, follicles remain alive, suggesting the possibility of new hair growth.
In female pattern baldness the hair thins all over the head, but the frontal hairline is maintained. There may be a moderate loss of hair on the crown, but this rarely progresses to total or near baldness it simply reduces the overall thickness of the hair.
Chronic Illness, Surgery and Prescription Medicines
The human body is a very efficient, self-optimising machine and it will always try to find ways to deal with any sickness or disease. In some cases, it may be necessary to temporarily redirect resources to help it deal more effectively with an illness.
One non-essential and therefore available source of energy and protein is that set aside for the creation and growth of hair. This process is sometimes put on hold, whilst the energy and protein is redirected for a more urgent purpose.
Major surgery also causes the body stress. Hair loss as a result of both of these events is likely to be temporary and hair should start to grow back without any need for treatment.
Some prescription drugs can cause excessive hair shedding. Types of drugs that may cause hair loss include those used for depression, heart problems, arthritis, high blood pressure and birth control.
Low protein diets cause the body to automatically conserve what protein it has by moving some of the hairs into the Telogen or resting phase. Excessive hair loss will occur two to three months afterwards. Eating an adequate amount of protein can prevent this type of hair loss. There are nutritional factors to keep in mind when you want to prevent loss of hair in menopause. If your diet lacks essential vitamins and minerals or is full of refined carbohydrates, your body has to increase insulin production. With this increase in insulin, your system tends to move toward higher androgen levels. Another possible cause of hair loss is iron deficiency known as anaemia. Iron tablets are easily available and a very effective treatment.
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