Dr. Erika Schwartz, M.D., is a leading national expert in wellness, disease prevention, and bioidentical hormone therapies. Dr. Schwartz has written four best-selling books, testified before Congress, hosted her own PBS special on bioidentical hormones, and is a frequent guest on network TV shows.

Dr. Erika Schwartz, M.D

Menopause's Impact on Hair Loss

Friday, 28 Mar 2014 12:12 PM

By Dr. Schwartz

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Menopause is the phase of life when losing hair is even more troublesome and the condition may last longer or indefinitely. It also is the least talked about.
 
Of course, we should probably be prepared for it by now because we know that when we have a baby and start losing hair, it is because our hormone balance has changed. When we go into menopause, we permanently lose the same hormones that have helped us keep hair on our head, out of the shower drain, and off the pillow for decades.
 
Most menopausal women have thinner and more brittle hair than their younger counterparts. We assume this is due to too much hair dye, styling and other products, and constantly trying to make our hair perfect. But while those are all contributing factors, the most significant contributor at this point in life is the loss of hormones at menopause.
 
And it isn’t just the loss of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. It also is the loss of thyroid hormone production, and genetics can play a role at this time as well.
 
I have seen thousands of women who were entering menopause and starting to lose their hair become panic-stricken and fearful that they will go bald. Reassurance is the first order of help. Next is information; a pat on the back and being told not to worry because the normal aging process was occurring is not helpful.
 
Hair loss can be sudden, temporary, gradual, or permanent. With menopause (and even before it if you are genetically predisposed to hair loss and you overtreat your hair), gradual thinning will occur on top of your head and forehead similar to what happens to men. But the hair doesn’t totally disappear. It just gets thinner and becomes unsightly because you can see the scalp through the thinning hair. The front of the forehead also gets broader.
 
Patchy hair loss also can occur. It usually is caused by nervous habits like trichotillomania, when people pull their hair out; alopecia areata autoimmune disease, which resolves by itself; and by fungus infections (tinea capitis). A dermatologist or a trichologist may help make the proper diagnoses and prescribe treatments.

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