Does the menopause cause thinning hair?
Menopause and hair loss
For many women, menopause is a taboo subject and going through the menopause is often very difficult psychologically.
The hormonal changes which occur during the menopause can cause anxiety, low mood and irritability, and women can find going through the menopause to be incredibly isolating. When you combine this with the physical symptoms which can include hair thinning and hair loss, this can have a huge impact on your mental health.
This article explains how the menopause can affect your hair and some frequently asked questions about treating menopausal hair loss.
If you have noticed that your hair feels thinner or you feel that your hair is shedding more than normal, please contact the Clinic to book a consultation.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is defined as the time when your periods stop, and is diagnosed when you have not had a period for 12 months. The menopause typically happens between the ages of 45 and 55, and is caused by the natural drop in oestrogen levels. The menopause can begin earlier through medical conditions such as premature ovarian failure or through surgery or medical treatments which affect the ovaries, for example chemotherapy.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Women report many different symptoms of the menopause. Some women have relatively mild symptoms, while other women experience very severe symptoms. Commonly reported symptoms are:
Low mood, depression
Brain fog, poor memory, poor concentration
Loss of confidence
Dry, itchy skin
Loss of libido
Difficulty sleeping, and
How can the menopause affect my hair?
Our sex hormones play a key role in regulating our hair growth. During the perimenopause our oestrogen levels fluctuate and gradually decline. Progesterone levels also decline, as do testosterone levels however our ovaries continue to make testosterone after our oestrogen production has declined.
Oestrogen generally has a positive effect on our scalp hair thickness and length, while testosterone can contribute to pattern hair loss and increased hair growth on the face, chest, and stomach. As oestrogen levels drop during menopause, for some women this causes hair thinning.
There are two main types of hair loss that menopause can be related to:
A temporary form of hair thinning called telogen effluvium
A condition called female pattern hair loss which is related to male pattern hair loss
Menopause in of itself isn’t a type of hair loss, and not all women experience hair loss from the menopause. It is also important to note that neither telogen effluvium and female pattern hair loss do not result in you losing all your hair and there are treatments available that you can try.
These conditions can sometimes be difficult to distinguish and there are other hair loss conditions which are more common in menopausal women, so if you are concerned about your hair thinning, please contact the Clinic.
Perimenopause hair loss
The perimenopause is the time ‘around menopause’ when your symptoms start to begin and our oestrogen levels start to drop. Perimenopause can begin around 10 years before the menopause. If your hair loss is related to fluctuating hormone levels, then hair thinning and loss can begin during the perimenopause.
Postmenopausal hair loss
Symptoms from the menopause can continue for four years on average after your last period. If your hair loss is related to the change in hormones, your hair thinning may continue after the menopause. Also, if you have been taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and stop or change your HRT this can affect your hair.
Menopause and facial hair
The drop in oestrogen and the continued levels of testosterone can also cause hair growth on your chin, lip, chest and stomach. While it might seem counterintuitive that hormones can on the one hand cause the hair on your scalp to fall out but on the other hand increase hair growth elsewhere, this is because hair follicles on different areas of our body react differently to hormones.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may reduce unwanted facial hair, as can other types of hair removal.
Menopausal hair loss – Will it grow back?
Whether or not your hair loss will recover depends on the cause of your hair loss. If your hair loss is telogen effluvium, it is likely that your hair will grow back within 3 – 6 months once the factors causing the hair loss are addressed.
If your hair loss is caused by a different condition, such as female pattern hair loss, your hair loss may continue however there are many different effective treatments for female pattern hair loss. If you are worried about your hair, please contact the Clinic.
Does HRT cause hair loss?
Generally, women find that HRT improves the symptoms of menopause, including hair thinning, although this of course depends on the cause of your hair loss. However, some women find that HRT makes their hair thinning worse.
Whether you are prescribed HRT and the type of HRT you are prescribed depends on your medical history. Most women take combined HRT which contains oestrogen and progesterone.
The type of oestrogen may be estradiol, estrone and estriol. The synthetic progesterone (progestogen) may be norethisterone, levonorgestrel, medroxyprogesterone and dydrogesterone. Some of the progestogens are derived from testosterone, so may have more of a effect on the hair than others which are less related to testosterone.
You may also be prescribed testosterone patches or gel to help treat problems with your sex drive, mood, and energy levels. Testosterone treatment can contribute to hair loss and hair thinning.
If HRT has been helping your hair loss condition, stopping or changing your HRT can cause hair thinning.
Best HRT for hair loss
Some types of progestogens are less related to testosterone so are considered to be more “hair friendly”. These progestogens are medroxyprogesterone and dydrogesterone.
Bioidentical HRT and hair loss
Bioidentical HRT are hormones which are derived from plant sources and are said to be identical to human hormones. Some people prefer bioidentical HRT to standard HRT as they are thought to be more ‘natural’. However, bioidentical HRT is not regulated in the same way that standard HRT is, and it is difficult to know how they might impact your hair.
Menopause hair loss treatments Manchester
Menopause can contribute to a several hair loss conditions, so the most appropriate treatments will depend on the diagnosis. It is important not to self-diagnose your hair loss, so please book a consultation if you are experiencing changes in your hair.
Treatments that may be recommended to you depending on the cause of your hair loss are:
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – HRT can be an effective treatment menopausal women experiencing hair loss, and is generally safe for most women.
Minoxidil foam or solution at 2% or 5% - this is a topical treatment which is applied to the scalp once or twice per day.
Oral antiandrogen therapy – prescription medications can be tried which block androgen receptors and help minimise the effects of testosterone on the hair.
Camouflage treatments – hair fibres, wigs, hairpieces and hair camouflage systems are commonly used to increase confidence.
Diet and lifestyle – diet and exercise play a role in supporting healthy hair growth.
Managing stress – stress makes it more difficult to cope with the psychological effects of hair loss, and can worsen the hair loss itself, try to do activities that help your stress for example meditation, yoga and other self-care.
Menopause hair loss vitamins and supplements
Our nutrition is important in supporting healthy hair growth, and post-menopausal women may need to adjust their diet as you can be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Many women also find that they gain weight around the menopause. Vitamins for hair loss and supplements can therefore be helpful in making sure you have the nutrients you need alongside a healthy balanced diet.
Best shampoo for thinning hair menopause
If you feel that your hair is thinning, using a volumizing shampoo will give the most benefit as they deposit protein-like structures onto the hair to make the hair feel thicker. Some menopausal women also experience a greasy scalp, in this case using a shampoo which has a strong surfactant such as sodium lauryl sulphate or ammonium lauryl sulphate rather than sulphate free shampoos may be more effective in removing the sebum from the scalp.
Where can I get help for my hair loss and the menopause in Manchester
If you are experiencing thinning hair and or you’ve noticed changes to your hair and scalp, book a consultation appointment with the Kate Holden Clinic for professional examination, diagnosis, and treatment.
Visit the Kate Holden Clinic hair treatment centre in Manchester to see a registered trichologist.
For more help and resources about the menopause, visit: