Hair Loss for Women

Hair loss for men can be hard to take at first, but once reality sets in, acceptance takes the place of shock and life goes on. The same does not follow for women with serious hair loss. Yul Brenner, and Patrick Stewart may be great role models for balding men, but not too many women are willing to go the Sinead O’Connor route and just shave off what doesn’t fall out. Hair loss for women is traumatic and it is becoming more widespread; happening to more women at younger ages.

Hair growth is described in 3 cycles: anagen, telogen and shedding. Together, these cycles last anywhere from 2 to 6 years. During anagen, hair grows at about 1 centimeter per month; it then enters the resting phase, a much shorter phase lasting 2 to 3 months. Approximately 10% of the hair is resting and then shedding at one time. After shedding, the follicle produces a new hair.

For the women who are genetically disposed to hair loss, this cycle is interrupted by androgens, hormones which are abundant in men and less so in women. In one of the causes of female pattern hair loss, testosterone comes in contact with the hair cell enzymes forming the stronger androgen DHT and it causes damage to the follicle by shrinking it. This condition, androgenic alopecia, is a cause of baldness for men and women.

But for women, it is not believed to be the primary cause of hair loss. The major difference, doctors believe, is hinted at by the patterns of hair loss. In men, thinning occurs at the hairline and top of the scalp whereas for hair loss in women, the loss is diffused, covering the whole top of the head. Another difference between the sexes is that for men, age is usually a factor and for women, hair loss can happen at any time.

It is important for women to discover the cause of their hair loss as some of the causes are medical and need to be treated accordingly. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, thyroid conditions, sudden or drastic weight loss, surgery, emotional stress, or a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome all need to be considered before a diagnosis can be reached.

Some of these types of hair loss are temporary and normal growth returns after a few months. There are a couple types of hair loss that are self-inflicted and can be controlled by behavioral therapy. Pulling out or twisting one’s own hair out can be stopped with the realization that it’s happening and cessation of the behavior. Hair loss due to hairstyles that are too tight or chemical treatments that are too harsh can usually be stopped before permanent damage or scarring occurs.

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