Your hair is made of keratin (KER-uh-tin), the same protein that makes up your nails and the outer layer of your skin. The part you see and style is called the hair shaft. The hair shaft is actually dead tissue made by your hair follicles which are tiny bulb-like structures beneath your scalp’s surface.
Your hair grows and sheds regularly. Most women’s head has about 100,000 hairs and the average woman loses about 50 to 100 strands each day. Normally, we do not notice this small loss.
Hair usually grows about half an inch per month, and the growth declines with age. A normal hair continues to grow and remains on your head for around two to six years.
As a hair gets older, it is common for the follicles to enter a resting stage in which the hair remains on your head but does not grow. The hair will eventually fall out and then be replaced by a new follicle within about six months.
There are many factors that can disrupt this cycle resulting in hair which falls out too early or is not replaced.
Age and hormones
Most people naturally experience some hair loss as they get older. But age, changing hormones and heredity cause some to lose more hair than others. The result can be partial or total baldness, known as alopecia (al-o-PEE-she-uh).
“Female-pattern baldness” is inherited and can cause modest to significant hair loss in women as they age. The hair loss can first become apparent in women by ages 25 to 30.
Female-pattern baldness starts with the replacement hairs becoming progressively finer and shorter. They can also become almost transparent.
Usually, the hair loss is far less prominent than it is in men. It also occurs in a different pattern. Most women first experience hair thinning and hair loss where they part their hair and on the top of the head, but don’t have a receding hairline.
About 50 percent of women who experience hair loss have female-pattern baldness. Unfortunately, it’s often permanent just as in men. Not all hair thinning and loss must be permanent. There have been cases of perimenopausal women, for example, experiencing thinning and lost hair who, once their hormone levels become balanced, can experience the thickness of previously thinning and the regrowth of lost hair that occurred during the ebbing and flowing hormonal years.
Other causes A variety of other factors may cause hair loss often temporary in women. These may include:
- Medications Some drugs used to treat cancer can cause your hair to fall out. But other prescription drugs, such as blood thinners, antidepressants and high blood pressure medications, can also cause hair loss. So can birth control pills and high doses of certain vitamins.
- Diet: Too little protein in your diet can lead to hair shedding. So can too little iron. Bottom line: Too strenuous dieting can result in hair loss! If you want to lose weight, do it the sensible way, especially if you have a hair thinning/loss problem to begin with.
- Stress or illness: You may start losing hair one to three months after a stressful situation, such as major surgery. High fevers, severe infections or chronic illnesses can also result in hair loss. Auto-immune disorders can cause hair loss.
- Childbirth: Some women lose large amounts of hair within two to three months after delivery.
- Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata (ar-e-AH-tuh) is a condition in which hair loss occurs only in certain areas, resulting in hairless patches the size of a coin or larger.
- Thyroid disease: An overactive or underactive thyroid can cause hair loss.
- Ringworm: If this fungal infection occurs on your scalp, it can cause small patches of scaling skin and some hair loss.
Is there a relationship between hair loss and menopause?
The most common cause of hair loss is low thyroid function, which is common among menopausal women. Other causes include, but are not limited to: changes in hormone levels (decrease or increase), increased testosterone, increased stress (physical or emotional), various medications, scalp/dermatological issues and heredity. Any time sudden hair loss is experienced, one must consider events which took place up to three months prior to the hair loss, as factors affecting hair loss can often take up to three months to have an effect,
When progesterone levels fall as a result of lack of ovulation, the body responds by increasing its production of the adrenal cortical steroid, androstenedione, an alternative precursor for the production of other adrenal cortical hormones. Androstenedione conveys some androgenic (male-like) properties, in this case, male pattern hair loss. When progesterone levels are raised by natural progesterone supplements, the androstenedione level will gradually fall, and your normal hair growth will eventually resume.
Since hair growth is a slow process, it may take four to six months for the effects to become apparent. Blood tests can indicate if the problem is related to thyroid or hormone alterations and can then be treated with either medication or by using naturally compounded bio-identical hormones.
You might look into Soy isoflavones which have estrogenic effects (without the risk of synthetic HRT) and have helped many women’s hair thinning problems.
Stress can be treated with a variety of exercise, yoga and acupuncture.
Another option to help strengthen hair follicles and thus assist with decreasing hair loss is Beauty Garden Hair Mask, which was developed by The House of Ayurveda. Beauty Garden Hair Mask is made of essential oils and herbs and supports robust hair growth, promotes natural color and luster, and bolsters hair strength and thickness.