Menopause is frequently associated with hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and sleep problems. However, one of the less talked about occurrences (albeit incredibly common) is menopausal hair loss. Thankfully, there are treatment options that can help slow down hair loss and even promote the regrowth of new hair.
What causes menopausal hair loss?
It is believed that the hormonal fluctuation that happens during perimenopause and menopause is why women experience hair loss. During perimenopause and menopause, the change in hormone levels – specifically the decreased production of estrogen and progesterone – leads to thinning hair. That is because these hormones help keep hair in the growing phase (AKA the anagen phase), meaning these hairs stay on the head for longer.
The effects of androgens (male hormones) are also increased during this time. These hormones shrink hair follicles, leading to thinner hair, and are responsible for unwanted hair growth in other body areas (like "peach fuzz" around the chin), which many women experience during menopause. With this type of female pattern hair loss, it is unlikely to experience bald spots or complete baldness. Instead, they'll usually see general thinning throughout the hair.
What treatments are available for hair loss during menopause?
It's important to note that, while hair loss around mid-life is generally menopause-related, there are a wide variety of additional factors that can lead to hair loss; stress, poor diet, thyroid disorders, and certain medications (to name a few) can all be triggered. Here are the treatments that can minimize and prevent further hair loss during menopause.
Minoxidil is a frequently used medication that the FDA has approved to treat male and female pattern hair loss. Minoxidil is applied topically to the scalp, increasing blood flow to this area, preventing further hair loss, and supporting hair regrowth. Generally, with consistent use, you'll begin to see hair loss slow down after about two months and new growth around the four-month mark. There are some side effects to be aware of, including dryness, irritation, and itching of the scalp.
One thing to keep in mind is that consistency and long-term commitment are key with minoxidil. You need to continue its use to maintain hair growth, so this is not a short-term treatment option. While you can get minoxidil products over-the-counter, it's a good idea to talk to a medical professional about whether it's a suitable option for you and decide which strength is best for your needs.
Collagen supplements can help your body produce collagen and elastin naturally. These proteins are responsible for the strength and elasticity of your hair and skin. To gain the optional benefit from your collagen supplements, look for collagen powders that contain Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.
How do Collagen supplements improve hair quality?
Starting at age 18, we begin losing 1% of our collagen each year. In menopause, there are sudden and steep drops in our hormone levels, notably estrogen and progesterone. When people reach menopause, the sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone causes an additional 30% drop in collagen production in the skin and hair.
Estrogen is vital for the normal functioning of the skin and blood vessels, hair follicles, oil glands, and melanocytes (pigment-producing cells). Estrogen also has an essential role in collagen and elastin. Reduced estrogen levels can lead to thinner hair, dull-looking hair and skin complexion, skin sagging, wrinkles, and more prominent age spots.
Collagen supplements contain hydrolyzed collagen peptides that the body can absorb. Once absorbed, these encourage fibroblasts in the skin and hair follicles to enhance their natural collagen production. MDhair's Collagen supplements contain other actives like vitamins C that neutralize free radical damage, combats oxidative stress, and help hair look thicker and more healthy. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which can help enhance hair and skin hydration, combating the hair and skin dryness typical of menopause.
Phytoestrogens: benefits for women with menopause-related hair loss.
Post-menopausal women have lower estrogen levels. The lower levels of estrogen slow the renewal of many organs, including hair follicles. Phytoestrogens ("Phyto-" is a Greek word meaning "plant."), are plant sources extracts that mimic the effects of estrogen on hair follicles and support normal hair regrowth. Phytoestrogens can be found in some scalp treatment serums and oral hair supplements. The MDhair hair treatment serums and shampoos contain phytoestrogens, including Quercetin (from Sophora japonica) and pumpkin seed oil. An excellent example of total supplements that contain phytoestrogens is the MDhair regrowth supplement that contains multiple phytoestrogens, including Quercetin, broccoli whole plant powder, green tea, and pumpkin seed powder.
Other things to do to support healthy hair during menopause:
Essential proteins, B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are just some of the necessities for a diet that supports hair health. Women need to be as gentle as possible with their hair during this time to prevent further damage and loss. The use of hot tools should be limited, as they can weaken and damage the hair. Try to avoid hairstyles that pull on the hair too tightly, as this can cause additional hair loss.