If you see some strands on your hairbrush and pillow, don't fret as your hair naturally grows back. We shed about 50-100 hair strands per day. But if you have been noticing clumps of hair after you shower, it may be caused by female pattern baldness.
Not all women are immune to hair loss, especially after menopause. According to the experts at Want Hair, 'Female hair loss is triggered by male hormones (Androgens) and it can occur at any time, from pubescent years onwards.' All women have small amounts of male hormones in their bodies, and these can cause hair loss if the female hormones drop during menopause.
However, menopause isn't the only culprit of female pattern baldness. If you're experiencing significant hair loss, there are other causes to consider:
Hair loss that runs in families is called hereditary hair loss or 'androgenic alopecia.' This is passed down from parents to children, regardless of their sex. Your risk of hereditary hair loss increases when you have a lot of relatives who experience pattern baldness. Females rarely develop bald patches. Instead, they notice a general thinning of their hair, especially over the top of the head or crown.
Excess DHT (dihydrotestosterone) in women's bodies lead to thinning hair. All females have testosterone in their bodies, and enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone to DHT. Dihydrotestosterone is known to have a weakening effect on hair follicles. It shrinks follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.
Like DHT, too much estrogen causes trouble. Estrogen dominance lowers progesterone levels, and progesterone protects hair follicles from the thinning effects of DHT. Ironically, low estrogen levels have the same effect. As estrogen levels decline, the amount of testosterone shoots up, resulting in subsequent hair loss.
Hair loss is a common side effect of many medications. Birth control pills, antibiotics and acne medication cause temporary hair thinning and brittle strands. Birth control pills cause hair to move from the growing phase to the resting phase sooner than their natural cycle, resulting in a large amount of fallout. Antibiotics deplete vitamin B and haemoglobin, disrupting hair growth. Isotretinoin, a medication used to treat severe cystic acne, has been under scrutiny for its undesirable side effects that contribute to hair loss.
Stress causes hair thinning all over the scalp. When a person feels intense physical or emotional stress, their body releases a large amount of adrenaline. This signals the hair follicles to enter the telogen (resting) stage early, and they stay there for three months. During these months, hair growth stops. Moreover, the body regards hair growth as a non-essential bodily function. When we are physically or emotionally stressed, our bodies divert their attention from lesser functions to focus on the maintenance of critical functions.
Often, hair loss due to stress is a temporary condition, and hair growth returns to normal six months after the fallout. For people experiencing permanent hair loss due to genetics, stress accelerates the rate of shedding.
Female pattern hair loss is mainly due to hereditary factors and gets worse with age. Other common causes are physical and emotional stress, medication and the hormone levels of the body. While there is no known cure for permanent female pattern baldness, there are wigs and hair transplants available to cover any bald areas of the scalp. Even with thinning hair, you can still step outside the house feeling and looking beautiful.