If you are a woman and are experiencing significant hair loss, it is very likely that you are suffering from female androgenetic alopecia – the most common cause of hair loss in women today. Female androgenetic alopecia is a hereditary condition that causes hair loss that can hit anytime between the years after puberty and before the age of forty.
Female androgenetic alopecia is identified by the increased thinning either across particular sections of the hair or all over the scalp. Usually, the areas where hair loss occurs include the line where you normally make your parting. But there are other hair loss patterns with female androgenetic alopecia that we will discuss in a moment.
Why Does Hair Loss Happen With Female Androgenetic Alopecia?
Women who have female androgenetic alopecia have follicles that have become sensitive to hormones. Androgen (hormone) receptors exist in these follicles, and the hormone androgen tells the receptors to produce less hair. If this is not detected early on, the growing cycles of hair will shorten considerably and the hair that does grow will be thin and fine while the hair that is already on the scalp will not be enough to cover the scalp completely. Eventually, there will be no new hair production at all. But don’t worry; complete baldness is rare with female androgenetic alopecia.
So why does this happen? What makes the androgen behave in this funny way?
There is an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase in the follicle. When the androgen, or even another hormone like testosterone, binds to the receptor, the 5 alpha-reductase is triggered to convert the hormone into DHT, which is what damages hair production. (That is why most hair loss treatments will have the phrase ‘DHT-inhibitors’ and ‘anti-androgens’ somewhere since these are most effective at treating hair loss).
Hair Loss Patterns of Female Androgenetic Alopecia
There is no one pattern of hair loss with Female androgenetic alopecia. In fact, the patterns of hair loss can vary to quite an extent, which is why it may not always be possible to identify female androgenetic alopecia through the hair loss patterns. However, following are the most common hair loss patterns of female androgenetic alopecia.
- Thinning and hair loss all over the scalp but more noticeable hair loss on the back of the scalp
- Thinning and hair loss all over the scalp with thinning emphasized on the front but without affecting the hair line
- Thinning and hair loss across the scalp and the front hairline
Causes of Female Androgenetic Alopecia
Usually, hair loss due to female androgenetic alopecia occurs because a woman has a genetic predisposition to the condition. However, female androgenetic hair loss can occur for other reasons as well.
- If you suffer from acne, problems with you period, or abnormal hair growth (hirsutism), then it is very likely that you are suffering from hormonal issues which can contribute to female androgenetic alopecia.
- Birth control pills can cause female androgenetic alopecia.
- Pregnancy is actually a very common cause of hair loss through female androgenetic alopecia.
- Post-menopausal hair loss caused by female androgenetic alopecia is also quite normal.
- Stress is another factor that can make your hair loss worse and prolonged stress over several months can lead to more severe cases of female androgenetic alopecia.
Diagnosing Female Androgenetic Alopecia
Since there are a number of reasons for female androgenetic alopecia to occur, tests usually need to be done to pinpoint the cause of hair loss. The first thing a doctor will do to diagnose female androgenetic alopecia or your hair loss symptoms is to have you undergo a number of blood tests. If an imbalance is detected through the blood tests, then you can cure your female androgenetic alopecia and reverse the hair loss simply by fixing that imbalance. Blood tests for female androgenetic alopecia can be rather expensive, and since they are done to identify a cosmetic condition rather than a medical one, some of them may not be covered by your general health insurance.
Following are the tests that will give you and your doctor information about the several factors of your health that could prove that your hair loss is due to female androgenetic alopecia:
- Thyroid tests – TSH, T-3 and T-4
- TIBC and Iron and Serum Ferritin
- Hemoglobin count
- Follicle Stmulating (FSH) and Leutinizing Hormone (LH)
- DHEA and DHEA Sulfate
When the tests are done and you can identify where the imbalance lies, it is only a matter of dealing with that imbalance and making things right. But this does not mean you have to rely on this method alone to treat your female androgenetic alopecia. You can pro-actively start using other treatments for female androgenetic alopecia as well since taking a multi-faceted approach to hair loss treatments has always proven more effective.
Treatment for Female Androgenetic Alopecia
Hair loss caused by female androgenetic alopecia is usually treatable as long as you take steps to identify that a problem exists and go about getting the help you need. You can speak to your doctor or better yet a hair restoration specialist to figure out which hair loss female androgenetic alopecia treatment is right for you. But you should also be aware of the different female androgenetic alopecia treatments out there so you are not completely clueless about your options when you go to see your doctor.
For example, it is always better to go with growth stimulant to treat female androgenetic alopecia first before opting for the more expensive DHT-inhibitors or anti-androgens if yourfemale androgenetic alopecia is still in its early stages. But your doctor may push you to go with the latter option right away perhaps to push his or her own agenda or to make some more money. This is not an uncommon tactic and since most people do not question what their doctors say, they just pay up quietly and go with whatever is suggested. But taking an active interest in your female androgenetic alopecia treatment will give you the upper hand and help you take control of the situation.
As mentioned earlier, doing more than one thing to treat your hair loss from female androgenetic alopecia is usually the quickest and most effective way to bring your hair growth back to normal. So employing both growth hormones as well as anti-androgens in your initial treatment plan is the most effective hair loss treatment for female androgenetic alopecia today.
Let’s take a brief look at these female androgenetic alopecia treatment options
Growth Stimulants for Female Androgenetic Alopecia
No matter what the cause of your female androgenetic alopecia, growth stimulants will put the brakes on the hair loss and stimulate new hair growth. So even if it is a serious thyroid condition that is causing your female androgenetic alopecia, the growth stimulants are designed to work their way around the problem and kickstart the growth of new hair.
Anti-androgens to Cure Female Androgenetic Alopecia
You can see the similarities between the words ‘anti-androgen’ and ‘androgenetic’. This is no coincidence. The primary cause of female androgenetic alopecia or any kind of hair loss is because your follicles have become over-sensitive to the levels of hormones called androgens in your body. So what anti-androgens do is to prevent any kind of hormonal activity in your scalp. Most women find much relief from their hair loss symptoms from their female androgenetic alopecia after anti-androgen treatments
Apart from growth stimulants and anti-androgens for hair loss caused by female androgenetic alopecia, there is another treatment option – anti-infammatories. An anti-inflammatory can create a calm environment on your scalp. Without a conducive environment for treatment of female androgenetic alopecia, the other two treatments for hair loss will not work that well. In fact, inflammation actually occurs as a result of your hair loss and practically doubles the rate of your hair loss. It’s a vicious cycle which you must get under control if you want to effectively treat your female androgenetic alopecia. This might just be the most important part of any hair loss treatment.
You can increase the effectiveness of each of these female androgenetic alopecia treatment options simply by using them together. So the anti-inflammatory prepares the environment on your scalp for treatment of female androgenetic alopecia, the anti-androgen gets to the root of the problem, and the growth stimulants gets new hair to grow as fast as possible.