Thinning Hair |

Menopause and thinning hair

 

Thinning hair is common during menopause, and many of us find this a very sensitive and difficult subject to talk about. Your hair is a huge part of the image you present to the world, and a very visible reminder of the changes going on inside your body during menopause. It is totally understandable that hair loss can be extremely distressing. While there is no foolproof remedy, let’s take a look at what can help thinning hair during menopause.

 

THINNING HAIR DEFINITION

You may notice changes to your hair take several different forms during menopause. Hair may become generally thinner, or you may notice a number of other changes including a receding hairline, bald patches or changes to the quality of your hair. It may feel drier or more breakable.

You may also hear this called female pattern hair loss or female androgenetic alopecia.

There are many other types of hair thinning which are not necessarily related to age or menopause – your doctor will be able to advise on which is affecting you.

Get fast, safe access to the right combination of menopause treatments for you by taking our free online assessment today.

HOW LIKELY IS THINNING HAIR DURING MENOPAUSE?

Very likely, although this is a problem for about 10% of people even before menopause.

As you get older, thinning becomes more common. By the time you reach 70 years of age, 56% reporting being affected.

Read more about the stages of menopause

SIGNS OF THINNING HAIR

General thinning – either all over your scalp or only in certain areas. It is most common to see thinning at the crown and front of your scalp

Your hairline changing or receding, or a widened parting due to hair loss or bald patches

Shedding – especially during brushing or hair washing

Drier, more fragile hair

TIPS TO HELP WITH THINNING HAIR DURING MENOPAUSE

Check in with your doctor

Menopause is just one of many causes of thinning hair. Your doctor will be able to help you ensure there is no other problem causing this issue. For example, thinning hair often goes hand-in-hand with anaemia and thyroid conditions, both of which are treatable. Your doctor may also advise seeing a dermatologist if they think other treatments may help.

Take a look at your medications

If hair changes are affecting you, ask your doctor for a medication review. Some medicines can lead to hair changes including thinning. Your doctor will be able to help you to weigh up the risks and benefits of each for your personal circumstances.

Eat a balanced diet

A healthy diet with plenty of nutrient-rich foods is essential for hair growth.

Think about minoxidil.

This medication is applied directly to the scalp, and comes as either a liquid or foam. Some products are available without a prescription, but it is worth checking in with your doctor before starting to ensure that this is the right option for you. If it is, you can expect to see results after three-to-six months of use. You will need to continue using minoxidil long-term to see continued effects.

Have a heart-to-heart with your hairdresser

They may be able to recommend certain cosmetic options to help disguise the thinning. These include dyes, styling, and hair products. Extensions are sometimes used, but be aware that these may cause further damage to the hair due to the way they pull at the follicle.

Hairpieces might help

Consider trying a wig or hairpiece if it would boost your confidence. These are widely used and you can find almost every style imaginable, from super-natural to completely outrageous! Alopecia UK has a helpful guide on getting started.

Consider hair transplant

If less invasive treatments haven’t worked for you, you may want to think about a hair transplant. This surgical procedure involves transplanting hair follicles from areas of the scalp with thicker hair to those where you see thinning. This is only available privately at present.

Keep an eye on your mental health

Hair loss can have a big impact on your self-esteem, mood and sex life. If you have any concerns, speak to your doctor.


CAN HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) HELP?

Possibly. Some women notice an improvement in their hair after starting HRT, however there is not yet any scientific evidence that HRT reverses menopausal hair thinning.

For this reason, HRT is not typically prescribed for thinning hair alone. This is because of the way the risks of HRT are weighed against its benefits.

HRT can effectively treat many other symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flushes, mood changes, and sleep disturbance, among others. Read more on the risks and benefits of HRT here.

HRT can also effectively treat many other symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flushes, mood changes, and sleep disturbance, among others. Read more on the risks and benefits of HRT here.

HRT is not suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor if you would like to find out more about the best treatment for you.

THINNING HAIR AND MENOPAUSE FAQs

Hormonal changes are thought to be responsible. Oestrogen may also play a role in maintaining a full head of hair. Doctors are still learning about other ways in which oestrogen impacts on hair growth, but it seems that oestrogen may have indirect effects by regulating other hormones involved in this process. Oestrogen is thought to increase the amount of time hairs spend in the anagen growth phase.

Reduced oestrogen levels can also have an impact on the strength and quality of hair, as they can cause a 25% decrease in collagen.

However, when it comes to hair thinning it isn’t just about decreasing levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Other hormonal changes also happen at menopause, such as a shift in the balance of androgens. These are sometimes misleadingly referred to as ‘male hormones’ although they are present in women too, although at different levels. 

At menopause, your androgen levels tend to increase. This leads to a number of menopausal changes including the growth of unwanted facial hair. Higher levels of androgens also cause a reduction in a hair’s active growing phase , and this is thought to contribute to thinning.

However, some people without raised androgens still experience menopausal hair thinning. This suggests that there are more complex mechanisms at play, and debate is ongoing.

  There is definitely a genetic component. Hair thinning is thought to be more likely if you have certain genes, which can be inherited from either parent.

Where there is a strong family history, it is common to see earlier and faster female hair loss.

Thinning and hair loss tend to continue over time, although how quickly this happens is impossible to predict. However, it is rare for women to go completely bald due to the different way in which hair follicles are affected.

Hair loss caused by menopause should not affect your eyebrows or eyelashes.

Speak to your doctor if thinning hair is causing you problems. This is a common symptom and one which can have a real impact on your self-image and mental health.

Likewise, seek medical advice if you notice:

  • Your hair changes have happened suddenly
  • Your hair changes are severe
  • You also notice any skin changes – especially any inflammation, blisters, scales or scarring on your scalp
  • Any loss of eyebrows or eyelashes
  • That your hair loss coincides with any other illness or symptoms
  • Any other worries or concerns

 

DISCOVER MORE

How to handle your hair during menopause. Read more

How to talk to your doctor about menopause. Read more

Why your facial hair is growing and how to manage it. Read more