Female Hair Loss

We don’t usually think of women losing their hair but female hair loss is much more common than you think.

Men lose their hair for a variety of reasons, the most common one being male pattern baldness. This hereditary condition usually starts when a man is in his late twenties or early thirties and results in a permanent form of hair loss.

Learn more about other forms of hair loss in men, in our Male Hair Loss section.

Men tend to be better at accepting hair loss as male baldness is more understood and accepted by society than female baldness. Bald men are often seen as virile or sexy and the number of bald male models, sports stars or celebrities helps to support that view.

But there are no such role models for women. How many bald female role models do you know of? Less than the number of fingers on your left hand I suspect which means that it is still seen as something of an oddity.

Plus society sees hair, especially long hair on a woman as a symbol of femininity. It is her ‘crowning glory’, something to be cherished and looked after as a means of attracting the opposite sex.

This combined with the greater stigma attached to female hair loss means that this condition is doubly distressing for women.

So, if you are a woman who is experiencing hair loss, what does this mean for you?

Coping with hair loss

The first step is to accept that this doesn’t diminish your femininity or sense of being a woman. Your identity is not defined purely by your hair; you have other qualities which are as equally as important. Emphasise these so that attention is taken away from your hair.

For example, update your wardrobe by buying yourself a new outfit or use make-up in a way which draws attention away from your hair to a facial aspect such as your eyes. Wear brightly coloured scarves or choose a wig. These can help turn a negative aspect into a positive one.

Note: a quick word about wigs. There is a wide range of great looking wigs out there which look completely natural and can be styled in any way that you see fit.

Learn more about Wigs in our Treatment section.

It is natural to feel upset or angry about hair loss, especially if it has occurred as a result of an illness, via chemotherapy or a stressful experience but the next step is to then address the problem. Once you have come to terms with the fact that you are losing your hair then you start to look at ways of treating it.

There are two forms of hair loss:

  • Permanent
  • Temporary

If you have been told that your hair loss is permanent then don’t be too downcast as there are ways of dealing with this. No-one likes to think of their hair falling out but if you are unlucky enough to be in this position then there is the option of a hair transplant or a wig.

Temporary hair loss is easier to deal with as you know that your hair is likely to grow back. For example, if you have undergone chemotherapy treatment. Hair loss is a common side effect of this cancer treatment but hair does grow back, usually a short period after the treatment has ended.

The best for of attack is defence as they say so start by learning as much as you can about your hair loss. Go online; visit your library or local bookshop; speak to your GP and see if he/she can advise you further about your condition. See if there is a local support group as talking to others in the same position can help.

And, use this website. We have tried to include as much information as we can about female hair loss in the aim of helping you make an informed decision about what treatment is available to you.

This section contains information about the causes of hair loss in women, for example, as a result of the menopause or hormonal changes in the body. These causes are female specific only but there are other factors in hair loss which apply to both sexes and include:

  • Alopecia: the medical term for hair loss. There are many different varieties of this condition which affects both men and women. One example is male pattern baldness.

    As a result of this we have included a section on alopecia in the Male Hair Loss section.

  • Medications: many of the most popular types of medicines trigger hair loss. All medications have side effects and unfortunately, one of these is hair loss although this doesn’t affect everybody.

    This is discussed in more detail in the Male Hair Loss section.

  • Illness: unexpected hair loss can be a sign of an underlying medical condition or illness. If you usually have normal hair growth but suddenly notice your hair thinning or falling out then see your GP as this might be symptomatic of something serious.

    The Male Hair Loss section contains more information on these plus examples of illnesses which cause hair loss.

  • Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy: these are both highly effective forms of cancer treatment but they do have side effects which includes hair loss.

Learn more about this in our Male Hair Loss section.

The main reason for including these in the male hair loss section is that statistically, more men than women experience hair loss and so are more likely to use this site.

But, female hair loss is as important as male hair loss and so you will find that we are equally sympathetic to your concerns as well as those for male hair loss.

There are a variety of causes of female hair loss which include:

The most common cause of hair loss in women is hormonal changes. Women’s bodies produce two hormones: oestrogen and progesterone which fluctuate as part of their monthly cycle.

Women also have a small amount of the male hormone testosterone (just as men have a small amount of oestrogen) which doesn’t usually have any impact. But if more of this hormone is produced then women will exhibit certain male characteristics such as hair loss.

Menopause, pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and certain forms of contraception all affect hormone production. And any of these changes can lead to hair loss.

For example pregnancy: after a woman has given birth she may find that her hormone levels drop and enter a ‘resting’ phase whilst her body returns to normal. This usually happens 3 to 6 months following the birth and in that time, women may notice increased hair loss.

We all lose hair on a daily basis as part of the natural hair growth/loss cycle, created by the hair follicles. This is largely controlled by hormone production but can be affected by an increase or decrease in this process.

If temporary hair loss occurs as a result of childbirth then it does tend to ease within the year. This is covered in more detail in our Pregnancy section.

Lifestyle factors such as stress, poor diet and smoking can damage the hair and lead to hair loss. Learn more about this in our Diet and Other Lifestyle Factors section.

Women also spend more time and money on their hair. They use a variety of hair products such as sprays, mousses, gels and conditioners not to mention a variety of salon treatments such as perms and colours. These all result in great looking hair but overuse can damage the condition of the hair to the extent that it starts to fall out.

This is discussed in greater detail in our Hair Products section.

Learn more about female hair loss…

Female hair loss Guide Index:

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