Usually when people think about the subject of hair loss, they tend to just have men in mind. However, there are plenty of women who suffer from premature hair loss too, and some experts estimate that as many as 1 in 4 women will experience hair loss at some time in their lives.
This figure may surprise you but there are several reasons why we don’t notice large numbers of women suffering from premature hair loss. Often they are much better at disguising the condition than men, the hair loss is often less severe than men experience, and the loss is spread more evenly over the head rather than concentrated at the crown, as it is with men.
Causes of female pattern hair loss
In female pattern hair loss women may actually lose hair for some of the same reasons as men. They have a reaction to the male hormones in their body – specifically the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In female pattern baldness the loss of hair can start later in life than it does in men and the effects are less extreme because women still have the support of estrogen in their body.
Menopause can also contribute towards hair loss because of the changes in hormonal levels, such as the increasing levels of testosterone that are experienced at this time. Sometimes women are prescribed antidepressants for the mood swings associated with the menopause, and these have also been found to sometimes cause hair loss.
Stress and sabotage
Hair loss can also be attributed to a traumatic event that causes stress to interfere with the normal hair growth cycle, triggering a condition known as Telogen effluvium. This is the second most common cause of hair loss in women, but it is reversible as the body adapts to the stress or the stress is relieved. The stress placed on a woman’s body during pregnancy, problems with the thyroid gland, and diabetes are other common causes of Telogen effluvium.
Another type of premature hair loss is Alopecia areata which is a disease of the immune system which causes it to attack the hair follicles, causing healthy hair to fall out in small, round patches all over the head. Some physicians think it may also be a result of a deficiency in the immune system, since in many cases the hair does often re-grow spontaneously.
Researchers have theorized that this type of hair loss may be the result of nutritional deficiencies that cause a shortage of proteins such as iron (serum ferritin). Women who have experienced regrowth without having had any treatment may have inadvertently corrected the nutritional problem without realizing it.