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Hair thinning or loss is a lot like a slow leak—you don’t notice it until it’s already caused significant damage. At that point, it can be difficult to address the root causes and, more importantly, solutions.
And there are so many potential factors that contribute to less-than-lustrous locks. Stress, diet, lifestyle, genetics, hormones—not only can they all contribute to hair loss, but they each require different solutions.
This can make combatting thinning hair feel like an uphill battle. But according to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 50% of women can place most of the blame on one factor: menopause.
How Do Hormones Affect Hair?
While pregnancy hormones cause hair to grow and thicken, menopause can make it do the opposite: thin or fall out. Both phenomenons are associated with our hormones—specifically estrogen, progesterone, and androgen levels.
Estrogen and progesterone are both linked to hair growth. As these hormone levels decrease during menopause, hair diameter and density shrink. While hair follicles naturally cycle from anagen (growth) to telogen (rest) phases, low estrogen levels cause the follicles to stay in either resting or shedding (exogen) mode.
Meanwhile, estrogen depletion can spur increased production of androgens, which shrink hair follicles on the head and cause more hair to grow on the face. This combination of rising and falling hormone levels causes hair loss on the scalp and hair growth on the jaw, chin, and cheeks.
Menopause is an inevitable part of aging, but hair loss doesn’t have to be. There are solutions to hormone-related hair thinning and loss if you’re willing to commit to a treatment.
Growing Back Hormonal Hair Loss
Not every hair loss treatment is the same, so it’s essential to determine whether your hair loss is hormonal (read: menopause) or caused by an autoimmune disorder like alopecia. Your doctor should be able to help figure this out.
For hormone-specific solutions, Harvard Health Publishing recommends minoxidil, the generic name of Rogaine. It’s a topical solution that stimulates hair growth in roughly six to 12 months. Keranique’s Minoxidil Foam, an unscented, clinically proven 5% minoxidil solution, has great customer feedback on Amazon.
While minoxidil works, it’s not a quick fix. If you stop using it, you can lose any hair regrowth you’ve gained. For the best, most long-lasting results, make minoxidil part of your daily routine. If you can’t commit to daily treatments, a different solution might be better.
For example, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be a powerful remedy for hormonal hair loss. Anti-androgens block the production of male hormones, which can decrease testosterone-related hair loss.
Some doctors prescribe spironolactone (Aldactone) to restore hair density. Possible side effects include changes in libido or mood, fatigue, and weight gain.
Hair transplantation is another option. This surgical procedure is often not covered by insurance and can range anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000, depending on where you live. But if you have the means and accessibility, it’s an effective way to restore hair density and growth.
Loving Your Hair In All Its Forms
Like wrinkles or sagging skin, hair thinning is a normal part of growing older. Our 50-year-old bodies will never exactly resemble our 20-year-old bodies, and frankly, that’s okay. If you want to use products or medications to combat the changes, go for it.
But you could also try rocking a shorter cut, experimenting with wigs or extensions, or embracing the thin (or bald) hair life. Because at the end of the day, what’s happening on top of your head is far less important than what’s happening inside of it.
If you do choose to combat menopausal hair loss, make sure your solutions address the root cause for noticeable, long-lasting improvements.