As March hosts International Women’s day, I thought that I would share some information about the taboo subject of Women’s hair and the effects of the Menopause.
When does our hair start to become affected by the onset of Menopause?
The first signs of the hair being affected are in that peri menopausal phase. When we know our bodies are changing but aren’t really sure when that change will be classed as full-blown Menopause, our bodies are in a state of flux. And unfortunately, so are we. The average age for Menopause is 50, but changes to your hair can start to happen long before this.
During the peri menopause, our hormone levels start to fluctuate, but also our menstrual cycle does too. What was once a light and regular cycle can become a heavy and more frequent cycle. This, in many cases that I see in clinic, leads to a depletion in Serum Ferritin, our stored iron.
We are very aware from scientific research that low ferritin levels lead to an excessive hair shedding called telogen effluvium. Keeping our ferritin levels up is key to keeping our hair growing and healthy. Good food sources are; red meat, beans, nuts, brown rice and fortified breakfast cereals.
If you notice a change in your overall hair density, condition or find that a lot more is falling out in the shower and brush, make an appointment to see a Trichologist. This will find out exactly what is causing the problem and start to manage it as soon as you can. To find a Trichologist visit https://www.trichologists.org.uk or contact me by email.
Menopause and Hormones
Most Women find that their hair is losing volume and length as the menopause commences. This is due to the menopause causing the hormones oestrogen and progesterone to decrease. Oestrogen is good for the hair, it helps to keep it in the anagen, (growing phase) for longer.
For those Women who are sensitive to DHT, (dihydrotestosterone), hair thinning during menopause is often more pronounced. This is due to the drop-in oestrogen levels causing a higher ratio of testosterone in our body. This allows a stronger negative effect on your hair follicles. If there is a history of Male or Female pattern hair loss in your family, you may be more sensitive to this. Don’t despair – it can be treated and managed. The best course of action is to see a Trichologist. This will find out exactly what is causing the problem and start to manage it as soon as you can. I always work with each person to create a tailored treatment plan that will be most effective for their individual needs. To find a Trichologist visit https://www.trichologists.org.uk or contact me by email.
Symptoms of Menopausal Hair Problems
- You notice that when you tie your long hair back it is thinner, the tie wraps around it more times.
- Your hair appears to have stopped growing
- Your centre parting is getting wider and your scalp is more visible on the top of your head
- A recession of hair around the temples and front hairline.
- A reduction in the thickness and length of each strand.
Treatments for Menopausal Hair Problems
- A review of your diet including the amount of protein you eat daily. If you don’t eat enough protein, and your underlying stored vitamin and mineral levels have been depleted, your hair may shed more than usual. It will become much thinner through the mid lengths to ends. Sometimes it can feel like the hair isn’t growing.
- Hair specific Vitamin, Mineral and protein supplements to help you achieve the correct balance for healthy hair growth.
- Hair Follicle treatments to counter the effects of DHT such as Minoxidil and possibly a DHT blocker.
- Get active! Activity helps us to manage stress that can have a real negative effect on your hair. This is because it raises the androgen levels in your body. Yoga is great for helping with relaxation and reducing stress. Walking, attending an exercise class, going for a bike ride, whatever your favourite activity is will have a positive effect not just on your hair but also the other side effects that come with the menopause such as mood swings, weight gain and insomnia. All of these are really important in maintaining a good hormonal balance which ultimately promotes healthy hair growth.
- Eating a balanced diet is your best defence against hair loss. You are what you eat couldn’t more true when it comes to your hair. Make sure your diet includes a balance of Protein, Whole grains, fruits and vegetables at every meal. It is important to ensure that you have some mono-unsaturated oils such as olive oil as well as essential fatty acids too.
- Arginine helps to improve blood supply to the hair follicles encouraging hair growth.
- Histidine and Isoleucine help in improving the strength of the hair and in using protein efficiently.
- Lysine helps to increase the DHT blockers in the body.
- Methionine helps in the manufacture of keratin. This is the main structure of the hair and adds to the shine and lustre of great looking hair.
- Threonine is essential for using proteins and helps in the formulation of elastin and collagen.
- Tyrosine supports the normal function of the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands, all of which have an impact on your hair. Tyrosine is also good for treating anxiety and depression.
Be gentle on your hair
Do use a good shampoo and conditioner, these are the basics for keeping the hair and scalp clean, balanced and moisturised.
Dial down the heat, keeping heated styling to a minimum really supports the hairs overall health, use a thermal protection product to further protect the hair from heat when you are using it.
Change your colour and your style, don’t be afraid to ring the changes, sometimes a good restyle can make the hair look thicker and fuller as can clever styling tricks from your hairdresser.
Talk to Your GP
If you find the symptoms of menopause really difficult, talk to your GP about hormone replacement therapy, (HRT). HRT can return oestrogen levels to an average pre -menopausal level, it can also help with hot flashes, mood swings and osteoporosis and not least your hair thinning.
There are risks involved with HRT, this is where talking to your GP really does help. If you do decide to go ahead with HRT, do tell your doctor about your hair concerns as some HRT treatments are hair-friendly whilst others are not and can exacerbate your hair thinning.
Trichologists are aware of which HRT treatments are good for the hair and together with your GP could help to determine the best treatment for you.
In summary, Menopause doesn’t have to mean that you need to put up with thinning hair, there are lots of factors that you are in control of, Diet, Lifestyle and haircare are 3 big areas that can really influence your hair health.