When you think of hair loss, you do not generally associate it with women. But women hair loss is just as common as hair loss in men. It’s just not that obvious because few cases of women hair loss result in complete baldness. But many women suffer significant hair thinning and hair loss so that you can actually see their scalp all the way through no matter how they do their hair. Women hair loss causes are varied, which we will look at today. But before we get into the details of women hair loss causes, let’s take a brief look at hair growth patterns and what would be considered abnormal women hair loss.
What is Women Hair Loss?
We all suffer from hair loss. Now, there’s no need to panic. This is quite normal. Ordinary hair loss is a part of the body’s cycle of rejuvenation and growth for both men and women. We shed hair in the same way that we shed dead skin cells – the old has to go to be replaced by the new. It happens in such minute quantities that it’s barely noticeable. It is estimated that we lose about 100 hairs a day. Even hair loss of 150 strands a day is quite normal and nothing to be alarmed about. You have about 100,000 strands of hair on your scalp so hair loss of 100 a day is not much. Plus, new hair sprouts too so you will regain the hair you lose.
You should start worrying though if every time you put a brush through your hair, it comes away with so much hair that you have to take it out before you can use your brush again. Another indication that women hair loss is actually occurring is when the drainage gutter in your bathroom blocks up every time you wash your hair. Or, as mentioned before, you can see scary proportions of your scalp no matter how you do up your hair or how much volumizer you use to try and hide it.
To better understand women hair loss causes and women hair loss in general, we need to first understand hair growth patterns so that we can see where the problem arises.
There are three main stages of hair follicle growth – Anagen or the growth phase, Catagen or the transitional phase and Telogen or the resting phase. Every single hair on your head goes through all three phases.
- The Anagen phase lasts between two and six years. It is when the hair begins to grow from the follicle at a rate of 10 cm per year. More than 80% of hair on your head right now is in the growth phase. During this phase, the follicle lies deep in the skin so it can get as much nourishment as possible for growth.
- When the Anagen phase comes to an end, the hair goes into the Catagen phase for a couple of weeks during which the follicle shrinks and the follicle’s connection to the deeper layers of skin is destroyed. No nourishment means the hair cannot grow past this point.
- The Telogen stage lasts from two to four months. The hair is literally dead at this point, but is still attached to the follicle so it does not fall off until a new shaft of hair grows from a new follicle on the same spot. And the cycle repeats itself.
Women hair loss causes can be attributed to a slow regeneration of follicles after the Telogen phase or slow or scanty growth in the Anogen phase. Now we can look deeper into women hair loss causes to see what interrupts this normal hair growth pattern.
Major Women Hair Loss Causes
Body image and confidence can suffer a brutal beating when dealing with women hair loss. Women hair loss can cause shame, embarrassment, withdrawal from social interaction, anger, frustration, and yes, even depression. It is thus important to discover women hair loss causes so that a hair loss solution can be found. But that’s not the only reason that unearthing women hair loss causes is vital.
Sometimes, women hair loss can be the symptom of a more dire health problem that needs medical attention. Treat your body as a whole organism rather than as a sum of its parts. If there’s something not quite right with one aspect of your body, then you should pay attention to it or whatever is causing it will affect the rest of your body eventually. So if women hair loss causes are medical in nature then other unpleasant symptoms will start to manifest.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Stress
The big momma of most health problems today, stress wins the top spot in women hair loss causes. Women stress out more than men. If you are a woman, you know this. And if you are a man who’s been around women, then you are just as well aware of this fact. When you are stressed out, the body takes it as a sign that there is trouble at hand. This prompts it to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. What your body does in this stage is to prepare for battle (fight) or prepare to escape or run away (flight, as in take flight). At this point, your body will consider the tasks which are not crucial to fight or flight – such as hair growth or skin cell regeneration – and will offer up fewer resources to that end. Hair loss is a pretty common symptom of stress.
But this is one of the reversible women hair loss causes. So when you start to take control of your life and emotions and reduce your stress, the hair loss will reduce too.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Vitamin Deficiency
We should all be eating more healthy. But women in particular need to take care of their nutritional needs as their bodies are more prone to suffering from the ill-effects of bad eating habits. Deficiency of certain minerals and vitamins, such as protein, calcium, magnesium and iron for example, also contributes to women hair loss causes. Women hair loss that results from lack of nutrition can easily be reversed simply by eating better or taking vitamin and mineral supplements.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Crash Diets/Sudden Change in Diet
Women are generally quite unhappy with their weight and most women today will pretty much try every type of diet there is to achieve their goals of toned legs or a slimmer waist. One of the repercussions of constant changes in the way you eat or or ultra-stupid crash diets is that it causes women hair loss.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Drastic Hormonal Changes
Women go through several hormonal changes in life right from their period every month to the massive hormonal fluctuation during pregnancy and then the drop in hormonal levels as menopause hits. These ups and downs in hormone levels are one of the women hair loss causes. But it does not affect all women equally.
Sometimes, there may be a hormonal imbalance as a result of other health problems such as a dysfunctional thyroid. Hormones need to be present in the body at just the right levels for everything to work smoothly. Without a proper balance, the first things to go will usually be the skin and hair.
Women hair loss caused by hormonal changes is usually reversible. Once hormonal balance has stabilized, women hair loss should dramatically reduce. But it may be a few months before you see the results.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Menopause
Continuing with women hair loss causes that have to do with hormones, we come to a normal stage of a woman’s life that is bound to cause some hair loss. Menopause is a huge contributor to women hair loss causes. In the years heading up to menopause, the hormonal levels in a woman’s body can fluctuate dramatically, eventually leading to lower levels than her body has produced her whole life. The lower hormonal levels lead to a host of stubborn, uncomfortable and often embarrassing menopause symptoms, hair thinning or women hair loss being one of them.
Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is sometimes prescribed to bring relief from particularly troubling menopause symptoms such as hot flashes. But HRT is not recommended for long-term use. And when women come off the HRT medication or stop taking the HRT shots or using the HRT creams, they find that it causes women hair loss.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Genetics
Our genes play a role in our physical features and thus in women hair loss causes too. While the impact of our genes can be minimized and overcome in some cases such as obesity or diabetes, we can do very little when it comes to things like, say, our height or hair loss patterns inherited from our parents.
For example, androgenetic alopecia or female pattern baldness is an inherited disease that no one can do anything to prevent. However, there are modern women hair loss technologies that claim to be able to repair the damage.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Long-term Illness
You must have noticed that when you fall sick – even something so simple as the flu – your hair tends to feel different, more dry and damaged even though you are still using your best hair care products. But no amount of hair care products will help you if the problem lies in your body.
Illness is another of the women hair loss causes that is reversible. Women hair loss is caused during illness for the same reason that it is caused during times of stress. The body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode and will thus only focus on those functions that are needed to heal you and help you survive. All other functions that are deemed unnecessary for survival will receive minimum attention. So while your body heals, you may experience hair loss. This is why it is much better to take care of yourself overall so that you do not fall sick in the first place.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Surgery or Physical Trauma
Any kind of surgery – even if it is considered routine by your doctor and you – is actually quite trying on the body. So some women hair loss after surgery is normal as the body heals. Even intense physical trauma such as being in an accident or suffering from massive physical injuries can cause the body to go in to fight or flight and the result may contribute to temporary women hair loss causes. When your body has sufficiently healed, the hair loss will be repaired on its own.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Existing Health Conditions
Medical conditions can be one of the major women hair loss causes. Let’s take a look at two diseases which are known to cause women hair loss – diabetes and lupus.
Diabetics have poor blood circulation, which is what causes their wounds to heal more slowly. The same function can impair normal hair growth as well. Also, having diabetes reduces the efficiency of the immune system and thus makes a diabetic more prone to infections. And there are certain scalp infections which can dramatically impair hair growth, thus contributing to women hair loss causes.
More than 50% of patients suffering from lupus will suffer from hair loss. Doctors are not sure why this happens but feel it may have something to do with the scalp rash that is associated with lupus.
These women hair loss causes are reversible if the disease is brought under control or cured.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Chemotherapy or Radiation Therapy
Some hair loss causes apply to both women and men. Chemotherapy is one of them. This widely-used treatment for cancer is, as you must know, a form of radiation poisoning which kills cancer cells but also kills your healthy cells. Again, it puts your body under great stress, which makes it go into fight or flight mode, and we’ve already seen how that is one of the women hair loss causes.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Medication/Birth Control Pills
The greatest disadvantage of pharmaceutical medication is that it fixes one part of your body while messing up another. This comes from the modern medical stance of treating the body as a machine with separate parts rather than as a holistic organism where everything is connected to everything. Some of the medications that contribute to women hair loss causes include retinoids, anti-depressants, some anti-inflammatory drugs, and blood pressure medicine.
Sometimes, it is not being on medication but coming off it that causes women hair loss. An excellent example to illustrate this point is the birth control pill. Women who discontinue their long-term use of contraceptive pills sometimes find that their body responds to the sudden withdrawal in the form of women hair loss.
Women Hair Loss Causes: Certain Hair Treatments/Hairstyles/Hair Products
Some hair treatments such as hair extension which require repeated traction on the hair, hair straightening, perming, or even some hairstyles like tight ponytails on a daily basis can contribute to women hair loss causes. Hairstyling products such as Chemical based dyes, hair colors, hair gels, hair sprays can also cause women hair loss to a large extent. But these are all reversible types of women hair loss and once the offending product or treatment is discontinued the hair should ideally grow back over time.
It is not always possible to hone in on the exact women hair loss causes for each woman. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint the cause – such as with chemotherapy, illness or hormonal imbalance through tests and a look at medical history. But when it has to do with stress or medication the women hair loss causes may be harder to determine. However, no matter what the causes of your hair loss, there are several hair loss treatments today that can help your hair grow back healthier and stronger, although there is no predicting whether or not and to what extent it will work for you. The best thing you can do to prevent women hair loss is to keep healthy and reduce your risk by making sure that you do not fall prey to the above women hair loss causes.