It's not a secret among women, we all put in a lot of time, effort, money and thought when it comes to our hair and there's a good reason why!
“Good hair days” make us feel happy and confident. We feel like we can take over and do anything. Shiny, soft and flowing hair is sheer joy. It gives us so much pride.
Our changing bodies and hormonal shifts during menopause may affect our crowning glory. We may experience dry and brittle hair and even lose strands as we go through the transition. But the good news is, there are many ways to keep our hair healthy and beautiful throughout the transition!
To make that happen, let's understand why hair problems happen during menopause and what we can do about them!Life isn´t perfect, but your #hair can be! Click To Tweet
Is Hair Loss Normal?
So, is hair loss normal? Well, it is a yes and a no.
To some extent, hair loss is normal for women. Experts say that you lose 50 to 100 strands on a daily basis and even up to 150 in a day. However, with the demands of modern life, chronic stress and hormonal imbalances, many women lose more hair than usual.
Your have an estimate of 100,000 hairs at any given time. Hair is made up of keratin, a protein which makes up your nails or the outer layer of the skin. Once hair comes out of your follicles, it is considered dead.
Hair stays on the head for a while. Normally, they remain on the head for 2 to 6 years. In this entire duration, they continuously grow, this is the anagen stage. Your hair also goes through a resting phase, the telogen stage. By this time, your hair stops growing and falls out.
When the topic of hair loss comes up, you can't help but imagine men with receding hairlines and bald patches (sorry guys). No need to worry ladies, you don't get bald in menopause. As opposed to alopecia, thinning is what characterizes hair loss during menopause. Your hair falls off in all parts of your head. Because of this, hair loss in menopausal women may go unnoticed and only becomes obvious when you tie your hair into a pony tail. You will see that there is a significant reduction in hair volume.
During menopause, almost 40% to half of women experience hair loss. According to stats, we lose 13% of our hair after we reach the age of 35. But it rises more to 37% during menopause.
Hair loss during menopause is rarely permanent so there is no cause for alarm. However, you still need to pay extra attention to this problem.
Watch this interesting video about menopausal hair loss by Dr. Holly! [2:30]
Why Does Menopause Cause Hair Loss?
Hormonal imbalance is one of the major reasons for hair loss during menopause. But what role do hormones play in hair health? Here's how it happens!
Your female hormones become erratic and unpredictable during menopause. When estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are not in balance, this can create a cascade of effects, and one of them is hair loss. Each hormone has a specific role in hair growth:
- Estrogen is an important female hormone that promotes hair growth by prolonging anagen or the “growing” phase of our hair.
- Progesterone on the other hand, prevents the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone or DHT, which is mainly responsible for damaging hair follicles.
- Testosterone is a male hormone which is found in women in small amounts. This hormone causes our hair follicles to fail, resulting in hair loss.
Estrogen-Progesterone-Testosterone imbalance has two mechanisms that causes hair loss:
The first one is in the postmenopausal stage when estrogen and progesterone are depleted, testosterone increases, damaging your hair follicles. The hormone also binds to your hair follicles and forces them to go into their “resting” phase, sooner than expected, causing new hair to grow thinner.
Although estrogen promotes hair growth on the head, it controls the growth of hair in the body. Testosterone on the other hand, is responsible for the growth of facial, pubic and body hair. So with low estrogen levels and high testosterone levels, the effect is opposing. Hair loss happens in the head, while the rest of the body experiences an increase in hair growth, especially on the face.
The second one is when estrogen levels do not actually decline immediately at the onset of menopause. During the early stages of menopause, the hormone that decreases first is progesterone. Estrogen on the other hand, remains at normal levels. However, as progesterone decreases more over time, estrogen becomes excessive, even reaching an alarming level at some point.
When there is relatively high estrogen levels, the body will convert excess estrogen into testosterone. When testosterone comes into contact with enzyme 5-alpha reductase in the skin and scalp, they become dihydrotestosterone or DHT, which damages our hair follicles and overall, disrupt hair growth. With no progesterone to suppress the conversion of testosterone to DHT, we continuously lose a lot of hair during the perimenopause stage.
How Do Sex Hormones Affect Hair Health?
Decreased estrogen and progesterone can also have adverse effects to our thyroid hormones. According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, estrogen has indirect effects to our thyroid function. This is the why thyroid diseases are common in menopausal women.
Your reproductive and thyroid hormones have the same control center in the brain, so they have an effect on each other. Let's understand the role of estrogen and progesterone to thyroid function.
- Estrogen inhibits the conversion of inactive T4 (thyroxine) into active T3 (triiodothyronine). Thyroid hormones normally bind with protein, but estrogen intercepts this action, suppressing thyroid function.
- Progesterone has a more positive effect because it enhances thyroid function.
As previously explained, progesterone goes down quicker than estrogen during menopause. If left untreated, this imbalance may worsen. With persistent high levels of estrogen, our thyroid hormones are continuously inhibited and without progesterone to protect our thyroid, we may develop hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism affects protein metabolism and nutrient absorption, halting proper hair growth. In hypothyroidism, we not only lose hair found in our head, we can also see hair loss in different parts of our body, specifically in the pubic area.
According to Dr. Nikolas Hedberg, thyroid hormones are important because they promote the synthesis of protein in the body. We already know that our hair’s main structural material is keratin, a fibrous protein which promotes healthy hair. In addition, thyroid hormones stimulate acid release in the stomach. This results in better vitamin and mineral absorption and distribution to different parts of the body, including our hair.
Increased estrogen also triggers our liver to produce a protein called “thyroid binding globulin.” This protein binds with our thyroid hormones, decreasing the amount of thyroid hormone absorbed into and used by the cells. This in turn, affects hair growth.
To know if hormonal imbalance is the reason why you're losing hair, check your hormones by doing menopause tests and hormonal imbalance quizzes in the comforts of your home. Find out what you’re missing now!
So do you see the bigger picture now?
Learn more about hormonal hair loss with Dr. Berg, as he explains it simply in this video [4:13]:
More Causes of Hair Loss!
Genetic predisposition, unusual levels of stress, nutrient deficiencies and crash diets can also cause hair loss during menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy is also a common reason for hair loss during menopause. Some specific types of HRT contain progesterone which you can find from testosterone. Instead of doing some good, this may even worsen the situation because it can affect hormone balance even more, causing hair loss. Many experts say that although HRT with progesterone is a treatment option for hair loss, it should also be used with caution.
Aside from all these, medication-induced hair loss is also common. Certain medications hasten the growing phase of the hair, causing them to mature and fall out sooner than expected. If you’re taking these kinds of drug, you might want to consult with your pharmacist for alternative replacements.
- Pain killers
- Weight loss drugs
- Mood stabilizers
- Birth control pills
Anti-epileptic medications cause a considerable amount of hair fall. Some studies even suggest that they can cause curling of the hair.
Aside from medications, therapeutic procedures such as chemotherapy and radiation may also cause hair loss. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells, but it also attacks other fast-growing cells in the body, like you hair roots. This is the reason why women going through chemotherapy lose their hair.
To be able to know the exact cause of menopausal hair loss, a detailed medical history and some diagnostic tests can be helpful to determine risk factors.
Natural Ways to Prevent Hair Loss during Menopause
Hair loss is a common symptoms during menopause, but it's not a cause for alarm because it's highly manageable. Restoration physicians recommend natural hair treatments first before anything else. This may include changing your diet and lifestyle or taking nutritional supplements to reverse nutrient deficiencies.
Food Sources That Promote Hair Growth
- Organic food – although organic food can be pricey, it will give you more health benefits than commercialized goods and products. They are free from chemicals as well, ensuring that you don’t bring any poison to your body. Aside from this, organic foods can help prevent estrogen dominance!
- Pumpkin seeds — Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc which is good for hair growth. Many studies have also shown that there’s a link between zinc deficiency and hypothyroidism which causes hair loss.
- Green tea — Green tea is not only useful in weight loss, it is also effective in preventing hair loss. It promotes detoxification, ridding the body of toxins and encouraging hair growth. It stops testosterone from being converting to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which greatly damages hair follicles.
- Superfoods – Chia, flax and hemp seeds are rich in fiber and healthy fats which can help in hair growth.
- Bone Broth – Protein is very important because our hair is made of keratin. Bone broth is rich in protein, collagen and amino acids.
- Biotin-rich foods – Biotin or vitamin B7 is a water-soluble vitamin in the body which is essential in healthy hair growth. It strengthens our hair strands preventing hair damage. Nutritional yeast and egg yolks are examples of biotin rich foods.
Aside from incorporating all these food items in our diet, we need to avoid processed foods, trans-fatty acids, sugars, alcohol and caffeine. All these can increase the production of DHT, which we know can cause hair loss.
Check out his videos on How to Balance Hormones Naturally in Women and Men – Top 5 Best Foods! [3:58]
- Keratin Supplement – protein powder from bone broth can be used as keratin supplement. Aside from protein, bone broth powder is also rich in collagen, gelatin, gdlucosamine and chondroitin which is good for the hair.
- L-lysine – a type of amino acid that binds with your protein and has several health benefits to the body. It is a good keratin supplement because it promotes hair growth.
- Saw palmetto – natural DHT blocker
- Pygeum – blocks DHT binding sites
- Pumpkin seed oil – prevents DHT formation
- Fish Oil – prevents inflammation and promotes thick hair
- Aloe Vera – naturally thickens hair
- Ashwagandha – helps us deal with stress better, balances out our hormones and controls cortisol levels which can all promote healthy hair growth.
- Biotin supplements – keeps us going during stressful situations. Biotin or B7 naturally thickens our hair while B5 or pantothenic acid keeps our adrenal glands healthy.
- Zinc – zinc deficiency causes hair loss so you have to replenish this nutrient to prevent further hair loss during menopause. Zinc does not only keep your hair healthy, it also improves immune system response and keeps the gut healthy.
- Vitamin C – vitamin C is a good anti-oxidant. Toxins are known to hinder hair growth so vitamin C is recommended.
For the recommended daily doses or consumption of these hair loss supplements, you can check out Dr. Axe’s article “The Best Natural Hair Loss Remedies.”
Essential Oils for Hair Loss
Essential oils are effective in re-growing your hair during menopause. Here are some essential oils that you can use.
- Rosemary – one of the most highly recommended essential oils for hair loss. Rosemary is known to enhance hair thickness and promote hair growth. In a recent study, 100 men with alopecia were tested. 50 men were treated with topical minoxidil (a drug that stimulates hair growth), while the other 50 were treated with rosemary oil. After 6 months, results showed that both groups showed improvement, drawing the conclusion that rosemary oil can also serve as minoxidil, only that it is natural treatment method. For simple and fun hair loss recipe’s, check out Curly Nikki’s 3 Super Simple Rosemary Recipes for Hair Growth.
- Spikenard – an essential oil that is known to promote hair growth and slow down the graying process. Learn more about Spikenard oil and its uses.
- Tea Tree Oil – tea tree oils is used for scalp health. It is also used as an anti-fungal and is effective in treating dandruff. In a 2013 study, tea tree has been found to halt hair loss and promote hair growth, making it an effective treatment for hair loss.
- Lemon – citrus oils are popular because they stimulate the circulation in the scalp, thereby increasing hair growth. It is also effective in preventing greasy hair. It is recommended that you use lemon in not more than 2% concentration to prevent phototoxicity.
- Peppermint – don’t you just love the refreshing smell of peppermint? Aside from its scent, peppermint, used together with jojoba oil has shown significant increase in hair thickness and healthier hair follicles.
Aside from those mentioned above, lavender, thyme, cedar wood and sage are also good for scalp circulation and therefore, hair growth. There are a lot of recipes out there, but you can also play around and experiment by mixing some of your essential oils together. Massage them on your scalp and see which fits you best.
For the general method of use, you can simply add in a few drops of your essential oils to your shampoo or conditioner and lather as usual as you shower. Or, you may massage them directly into your scalp. Allow the essential oil treatment to stay for about an hour before rinsing.
Hormonal imbalance is one of the leading causes of menopausal hair loss. This is the first thing that you have to resolve. You’ll be surprised to find out how balancing your hormones can have such a positive impact in menopause and hair loss and even on your health. Here are some things that you can do.
- Consume Healthy Fats
Our body needs specific types of fats in order to produce hormones. Saturated fats and cholesterol are just two of these fats. Healthy fats are not only essential in hormone production, they also prevent inflammation, improve metabolism and aid in weight loss. Some examples of food that you should consume are avocados and coconut oils.
- Supplement with Adaptogen Herbs
Adaptogenic herbs are known as healing plants. They are good for hormone balance and protecting the body against many different diseases. Adaptogenic herbs also aid in better stress management. Some of these herbs include Ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms, Rhodiola and Basil.
- Get Rid of Toxic Kitchen, Beauty and Body Care Products
Xenoestrogens, or synthetic estrogen found in chemicals are basically in every commercial product sold in the market. Chronic exposure to xenoestrogens can worsen estrogen dominance and may cause various effects to the body, not only hair loss. To avoid toxic home products, a better alternative would be natural products which are made from essential oils such as, coconut oil, shea butter and castor oil.
- Moderate and Routine Exercise
Extreme or rigorous exercise is not advised for menopausal women because it can cause further amenorrhea and inflammation. Moderate and routine exercises are better because they can balance out our hormones by preventing inflammation, lowers stress, improves our sleeping patterns (our hormones are affected by our body clock) and helps in curbing our appetite.
- Get Enough Sleep
Hormone production follows our sleep-wake cycle, therefore, you must have a consistent sleeping schedule. By getting enough sleep, you also allow your body to relax and recharge.
Dr. Mark Hyman explains how to balance your hormones naturally in this video [7:06]:
Shampoos and Conditioners
When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, try sticking to organic. Organic products are free from chemicals that harm the hair. When buying natural shampoo and conditioner, make sure that you look for biotin and keratin in the label. These vitamins make your hair stronger and can also treat already weak hair.
Can shampoo really restore damaged hair? Find out from Dr. Berg! [3:07]
According to Dr. Ryan Welter, a Boston-based hair transplant surgeon, hot water causes dehydration in your hair strands. This can cause dry, brittle hair which is prone to thinning. If you want to preserve your scalp’s natural moisture or hydration, you might want to try cooler showers.Invest in your hair, it is the crown you never take off. Click To Tweet
A community for bold and fearless women, called Sixty and Me, interviewed top hairdresser from the UK, Denise McAdam to share her thoughts and ideas on hair loss and hair care tips. Denise has worked without countless royalties in the UK – including the queen herself and Grace Kelly of Monaco, to mention a few and some famous celebrities.
Here are some of the best tips from her interview!
- Fringe, or what we know more as bangs, is a great hairstyle if you experience hair loss. Sometimes, when we lose some hair, our hairline tends to recede or thins as well. A fringe can cover the forehead and make hair look thick, not to mention it can also shape and contour our face.
- Another suggestion from Denise is to chunk our hair into layers to it adds some volume. So even when hair is thinning, we can still add some thickness to our crowning glory.
- A quick fix to hair loss is the use of extensions. According to Denise, it’s easy and convenient to use. You just have to clip it the inner portions of your hair, and voila – you have automatic thick hair!
- Coloring is not a bad thing and does not always cause hair loss as long as it is done properly. It can even add volume to the hair, making it look thicker by swelling the hair cuticles. The thing is, you are not advised to use hair colors that will penetrate the scalp, you can opt using highlights instead.
This is not really related to hairstyling, but Denise suggests that you sleep on silk! Silk doesn’t cause friction, preventing hair loss.
If you want to watch the whole video and listen to her amazing conversation with Margaret, click on the link here [17:40]:
You have piled up work for weeks now, and your boss has been nagging you. You feel like time is not on your side. Aside from feeling fatigued, you notice strands of hair falling out when you take a bath or brush your hair.
You are stressed and it’s time to take a step back!
Emotional stress highly contributes to hair loss. Women going through menopause can be subject to physical, emotional and psychological stress. If you’re too busy with your life, it’s time to slow down a little. Prioritize yourself and do fun things that will make you happy.
Get plenty of sleep and rest, and make a schedule for the rest of the week. It is also a good idea to get a therapeutic massage from time to time. This helps lessen stress and can improve your blood circulation, including blood flow to your scalp. Yoga and meditation is also highly recommended.
Remember, better blood flow means better hair growth!
If you’ve already lost some hair, don’t stress yourself! Accept your situation, move on and embrace it. On a more positive note, you’ll be able to sport new hair styles that you’ve never done before. You are beautiful no matter what!
Hair Products to Prevent Hair Loss
One of the products that many hair care professionals recommend is Viviscal. This product is the leading hair growth supplement in the market, with 25 years of hair growth research. Viviscal is made for both men and women, to reduce hair shedding and help hair growth thicker, fuller and faster. Viviscal is made of all natural ingredients, making it safe and effective!
Aside from its hair growth supplement, you can also try Viviscal’s shampoo, conditioner, hair elixir and volumizing products.
Another great product for healthy hair is Imedeen. It’s actually a hair and nail supplement that contains essential nutrients such as biotin, silica, zinc and B-vitamins, which promotes hair growth and stimulates follicle formation.
Imedeen is also starch, gluten, gelatine and preservative free, so it can be used by vegetarians. You can take this product 1 capsule per day. You will be able to notice the difference in 3 to 6 months of use. Imedeen is available on Amazon.
Argan is the wonder herb from Morocco for a reason! It has so many health benefits and this include making our hair, skin and nails healthy. According to some research, argan oil can even help promote hair growth in elderly individuals.
ARGANLife hair and skin care products prevents hair loss and promotes faster hair growth. Their products are 100% organic, authentic and pure, so they’re safe to use. ArganLife Argan Oil Professional Hair Treatment for instance, has 6 times the concentration of argan oil than other argan oil hair products on the market, making it the world's new gold standard for argan oil hair treatment products. You can purchase their products on Amazon.
Naturopathic doctor, Dr. Holly personally recommends the use of iron + vitamin C. A good product is New Chapter’s all natural multivitamins from organic vegetables and herbs! It’s every woman’s daily multivitamins. Aside from iron and vitamin C, it has loads of other vitamins and minerals which will help you stay in top shape! New Chapter is sold on Amazon.
Dr. Holly explains how important the amino acid, Lysine, is in the prevention of hair loss during menopause. Solgar L-Lysine is an excellent product which you can try. It’s organic and sugar, salt and starch free. Solgar is available on Amazon.
Dr. Berg understands how hair loss can affect menopausal women, so he created an effective hair formula that will make your hair beautiful. Check out Dr. Berg’s Hair Formula and see what it can do for you! It’s also available on Amazon.
So, are you ready to try out some of the natural treatments? Let us know if they work for you! If you know a friend who suffers from menopausal hair loss, you can also share this article!