Women are faced with pressures each and every day from family, career and societal norms that more often than not we are expected to fit into. We feel like we need to be ‘on’ all the time.
It’s sometimes hard to live up to expectations, and the struggle can lead to exhaustion and loss of identity.
This pressure can produce a myriad of side effects. Poor health, loneliness and isolation, stress…
Female pattern hair loss stands out as a taboo among all the ailments that women face that are widely accepted as the norm (as they should be).
By the time men hit middle age, it’s calculated that two thirds will experience some form of hair loss and this, as far as we’re concerned, is completely normal. Nothing to make a fuss about.
Female hair loss
Female pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a common condition that impacts many women.
The scalp’s hair gradually thins, typically starting in the crown region and/or along the part line. The disorder is frequently inherited and is brought on by a confluence of hormonal and genetic factors.
Female hair loss can significantly affect a woman’s quality of life and sense of self-worth.
Women who are experiencing hair loss should seek medical advice to identify the underlying cause and the best course of action.
I want to reassure you that losing your hair in a certain way is normal and shouldn’t stop you from living your life to the fullest.
If you are currently going through this, there are many steps you can take that will help mitigate some of the symptoms, which I will discuss here.
But first, I would like to explore why this happens at all and hopefully demystify the process so you can understand what is going on?
Why do we experience hair loss?
The reason why some women experience hair loss cannot be directly linked to just one thing.
Stress, genetics, and even certain medications and medical conditions have all been linked to the onset of hair loss.
In women, hair loss is experienced as a thinning of the hair around the scalp, unlike men who experience baldness as a receding of the hair line. In any case, hair loss is a sign of unbalance or irregularity in the body.
This can fortunately mean that once the unbalance has been rectified, your hair can return to its normal growth cycle and replenish naturally. This is often the case with stress related hair loss.
Hair loss is also heavily linked to our genetic makeup, with lineage playing a great role in who it targets.
One of the most common types of hair loss is called Androgenic Alopecia, and is linked to the hormone androgen, which in men is responsible for sexual regulation (Androgen is only present in small amounts in women).
Androgenic Alopecia generally takes place when there is a great displacement of hormones, which is why so many women experience hair loss during and after menopause.
How do I stop hair loss?
Hair loss is one of those things that has no absolute cure. I wish there was a magic pill you could take that would completely reverse the symptoms, though modern science isn’t quite there yet.
That being said, there are options available that can slow or reverse the process to a point, and in most cases hair loss will reverse itself once the causing event has passed.
Foods that help stop hair loss
You should be looking to your diet as the most immediate thing to alter. Even the slightest adjustments can have a huge impact. Here is a list of foods you can add to your routine that all have proven efficacy in dealing with issues associated with thinning hair
- Carrots: Carrots are rich in vitamin A which helps nourish your scalp. Carrots also help add shine and strength to the hair.
- Green peas: Full of vitamins for healthy hair such as zinc and iron.
- Oats: If you don’t like porridge, that’s OK. Try adding oats to your diet once or twice a week in smoothies. Oats are full of omega 6 fatty acids which are essential for normal nail, skin and hair growth. Oats also contain zinc!
- Walnuts: Walnuts are packed with zinc, iron and B vitamins which are amazing for your hair growth. Like oats, walnuts are also full of omega 6 fatty acids. Try adding a handful of walnuts to your weekly diet.
- Eggs: Eggs are full of protein and vitamins for building strong healthy hair. Eggs are also full of omega-6 fatty acids!
- Spinach: Popeye was on to something. Spinach and other green, leafy vegetables are full of vitamins A, C and iron which are all linked to healthy hair growth.
- Salmon: Salmon (and other fatty fish such as mackerel) are full of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which are needed for healthy hair. Studies have shown that these fatty acids included in a healthy diet reduce hair loss in women and increase hair density.
Vitamins & supplements that stop hair loss
COLLAGEN: One thing I have been blown away by as I have entered my 50’s is the amazing benefits of collagen.
Collagen is a protein found in abundance in the body and is utilised as the building block for many body structures (muscle integrity, joints, ligaments, and skin).
As we get older, our bodies produce less and less collagen naturally. That is why adding a collagen supplement to your diet is so beneficial. Collagen is essential for building new hair proteins, so without it, our propensity to grow new hair is diminished drastically.
You may not see the effects of adding collagen to your diet straight away, and changes can sometimes take up to a month to notice, but stick with it! As an added bonus, collagen will also help make your skin glow!
Hair growth is dependent on oxygen being circulated through your blood to repair hair-production cells. Iron is essential for producing Haemoglobin, which is the vehicle your blood uses to carry oxygen. Low iron means poor oxygen circulation.
Hair loss is a common symptom of zinc deficiency, so your hair loss could simply imply you need to up your zinc intake. Zinc helps keep the oil glads around the hair follicle functioning for optimum hair growth. Zinc also plays a major role as the building block for hair tissue regrowth.
Vitamin D, which we get naturally from the sun, is linked to healthy skin and bone structure and more recently has been linked to healthy hair growth.
Vitamin D has been shown to increase your follicle count, meaning more hair! You can get vitamin D naturally from mushrooms, dairy and even orange juice. There are also plenty of vitamin D supplements available over the counter.
There is an over the counter topical and oral treatment available for female pattern baldness called minoxidil, though I recommend seeking a medical practitioners advice before using this treatment. Minoxidil acts to replenish hair growth by swelling the hair shaft.
There are some side effects associated with minoxidil, such as an itchy scalp and hair regrowth that doesn’t match the rest of your hair. It is also not proven to work on everybody. Once you start, you can’t stop either, or your hair will return to its thinning state.
With all of these supplements and vitamins, caution is advised. Our bodies are built just so, and altering our levels of anything too much can have some not-so-good side effects.
Make sure you check in with your doctor before taking any of these supplements in their raw form to make sure your body needs it and can handle it.
In conclusion …
There are steps you can take that help mitigate the symptoms of hair loss including switching up your diet with the above suggestions and adding in an additional supplement or two. There is no overnight solution to hair loss. With anything listed in this article, time is your best friend. Stick with it!
Female hair loss can be debilitating. Its impact on our mental state and the implications of its appearance can be terrifying and deeply unsettling. But it doesn’t have to be.
Female hair loss effects 2/3 of post-menopausal women, meaning you are absolutely not alone in this. There are many other women in a similar situation to you, not knowing what to do or how to fix what is going on.
Female hair loss is completely natural and completely normal. It doesn’t make you less-than. It doesn’t make you bad or ugly. It just makes you a woman.