Hair Loss in the Menopause

January 16, 2022

Hair Loss in the Menopause

Here at the Michael Van Clarke Salon we’ve seen generations of clients go through the menopause. For 40 years I’ve touched and felt the changes, witnessing the difference in hair with my own eyes. So many forty something women are required to be polished and glamorous in their senior roles in business, law, finance, media etc., yet this hormonal rollercoaster is still whispered about.

It's a poignant time; the kids are off out into the world, and these women may have more time to focus on looking after themselves than they've had for decades. But they’re experiencing huge physical and emotional changes – and then hair, skin and nails, suddenly and inexplicably are in the worst condition ever.

Mood swings and hot flushes are anticipated in the menopause but women are often not aware or prepared for thinning hair. Research shows that about 40% of women will experience this.

Many women feel this area is taboo. One friend finally went to a doctor thinking she had mental health problems, and was relieved to discover it was linked to their plummeting oestrogen levels.  Whilst scary and unsettling, it’s a natural and usually temporary stage in life, which can be managed to minimize the effects.

Peri-menopause and menopause hair loss happens slowly, a result of the changing amounts and ratios of hormones in the body, but once it is noticed, it seems like the hair has thinned overnight. 50 percent loss can occur before it's visibly noticeable.

Women may experience the thinner ponytail, sparse patches around the front hairline, noticeably wider partings, an excess of hairs collecting in the hairbrush or the bathroom, or a general thinning across the whole scalp. Any noticeable hair loss can be very distressing, leading in some cases to a loss of confidence and self-esteem, even depression and social withdrawal.

Hormones - A gradual decrease in oestrogen and progesterone leads to higher ratios of testosterone in the body, which may also increase in quantity. These changing ratios affect the amount and quality of the hair. This excess balance of testosterone impacts the hair follicles and results in thinner hair, particularly in women who are more sensitive to androgens (male hormones) than others.
Hair grows in a cycle of three distinct phases: Growing – Resting – Shedding, and physical or emotional stress can move hair early from the growing phase into the resting phase. When it then moves to the shedding phase, more hair is lost than normal in a short period and the hair that replaces it will be thinner and weaker. The menopause, poor diets, and stress can all affect this cycle.

Whilst most doctors agree that replacing these hormones can alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause, they don’t seem to cure the issues of the hair follicles.

Other Factors  High stress levels, genetic predisposition, imbalance of other hormones such as thyroid, nutritional deficiencies from poor diets, medications and illness, can also have a concurrent effect.

Menopause does not last forever. After menopausal hair loss, the hair will start to grow again, usually within 6 months to 2 years after occurring. This can differ from one individual to another.

How to care for thinning hair

1. Treatments - Our LifeSaver Pre-wash Treatment will maximise the thickness and protection of the hairshaft at all times. But especially when hair is thinner and more fragile it will plump up the volume and give fullness shine and flexibility.

2. Shampoos and Conditioners - 3’’’More Inches Cashmere Protein Shampoos and Conditioners all boost hair health and natural thickness. The 3’’’More Inches Volumizing range will add body to finer softer hair types and the 3’’’More Inches Moisturizing range helps smooth and control coarser or chemically treated hair.

3. Nutritional Supplements - Vitamin supplements shouldn’t be a substitute for a varied diet, but can help those with an unbalanced regime. Vitamins and minerals are vital for overall health. Biotin is especially important to keep the hair healthy because it functions in the synthesis of hair proteins like keratin. Lack of biotin has also been associated with hair breakage, hair loss, and brittle nails. 3’’’More Inches Hair & Nails Nutrients has an award-winning advanced formula of essential vitamins and minerals to support general wellbeing with an emphasis on brighter, stronger, healthy hair and nails. It’s especially suited to vegans as it also provides significant levels of iron and Vitamin B12.

4. Cutting - Getting the outline and shape of the haircut right will make a dramatic difference to how thick the hair looks. It will also make styling quicker and simpler. If a lot of hair has been lost around the hairline an A-Line haircut may exaggerate this. Proper graduation and even a wide fringe may be a better solution.

5. Styling - If your heat-styling routine is a little rushed and aggressive this may be a good time to go easy. Speak to your hairdresser about better techniques that are more precise and gentler. With styling, less is usually more.

Medical Treatments - Medical treatments that are promoted and may help mitigate hair loss include prescription minoxidil solution, laser therapy, finasteride (for post-menopausal women only) platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP is also known as "vampire hair growth treatment"), but I personally cannot vouch for any of these as I haven’t conducted any rigorous testing.

 Michael Van Clarke

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