Having healthy hair is often associated with confidence and a positive self-image, especially for many women. One bad hair day can affect how a woman feels about herself, and there are studies that show how female pattern hair loss can have psychological effects and negatively impact their quality of life. Female pattern hair loss is common during the menopausal transition but intervention with hormone replacement therapy can help combat further hair thinning.
So how exactly can hormone therapy treat thinning hair for women? Hair loss among perimenopausal and menopausal women can often be caused by hormone imbalance where estrogen levels drastically drop. Getting HRT can restore balance to the female hormone levels, slowing down the shrinking of hair follicle and maintaining ideal hair density.
Androgenetic alopecia is the term used to call the hair loss phenomenon that occurs in both men and women. Individuals may also experience temporary hair loss or shedding due to telogen effluvium, a disorder that is caused by different triggers like stress or shock. To better understand how female pattern and male pattern hair loss happens, let’s look at the three important phases of hair growth:
The entire hair growth cycle and the composition of the hair follicle are influenced by hormones. There are two main types of hormones: androgen (male) and estrogen (female) hormones. In male pattern baldness, androgens like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can affect the size of the hair follicle. Low testosterone and the presence of DHT may cause hair loss in men.
Women are also known to produce small amounts of male hormone in the ovaries and they help develop and regulate certain reproductive organs and tissues. And during natural menopause, there’s a possibility that testosterone levels become high since the female hormone levels decline and this can trigger female pattern hair loss.
Estrogen and progesterone are two of the essential female hormones that can prolong the anagen or hair growth phase. They act as nourishment so that the hair will stay on your scalp longer and may even stimulate faster hair regrowth. Once a woman begins menopause, there’s a hormonal imbalance due to low oestrogen levels and possibly high androgens.
One of the early signs of menopausal hair loss is when you see more loose hair falling out when running your comb or brush through your locks. While bald spots are not as common during menopause, it is possible to see thinning hair along the hair line. New hair growth will also be significantly slow during menopause.
Other menopausal symptoms due to fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels are vaginal dryness, metabolism changes, weight gain, hot flashes, irregular or heavy periods, bloating, mood swings, night sweats, insomnia or sleep problems, and muscle aches and joint pain due to loss of bone tissue.
Hormonal hair loss may also be triggered by other factors like stress, lack of essential nutrients, and underlying illnesses. Severe cases of hair loss may prompt the need to see a doctor to check your blood count, thyroid tests, and hormone levels to identify its cause.
Hormone replacement therapy, sometimes called menopausal hormone therapy, is a popular treatment among menopausal and postmenopausal women who wants to supplement the estrogen that the body loses upon reaching menopause age.
HRT can improve the effects of menopause and provide relief from its discomforting symptoms. Likewise, it can offer benefits for serious health complications that older and postmenopausal women may be at risk for such as osteoporosis and colon cancer. There are two main types of hormone therapy:
Estrogen hormone therapy is a treatment program where a woman takes medication of only pure estrogen. These can be administered systemically (known as systemic estrogen) where the hormones can enter the system via the bloodstream where they will circulate throughout the body.
It’s available in pills or oral forms, transdermal skin patches where the hormones seep through the skin, or intramuscular injections. It can also come in topical forms like vaginal rings, creams, gels, or sprays.
Systemic therapy usually contains high concentrations of estrogen. However, depending on the doctor’s recommendation, your preference, and your current health condition, you may also be prescribed low-dose estrogen products which give minimal amounts of the female hormone to your body. It’s commonly used to treat vaginal and urinary problems during menopause.
Combined hormone replacement therapy contains both estrogen and progesterone (or in its synthetic form called progestin or progestogen). This form of hormone replacement therapy is usually recommended for women who are postmenopausal.
Taking both estrogen and progesterone is said to be beneficial for treating hair loss during menopause. HRT can help bring back healthy levels of estrogen to manage the hair loss problem. It can also counter the amount of testosterone to stop hair follicles from shrinking and prevent hair thinning. Likewise, starting HRT early may also help maintain hair density and lessen the amount of hair you may lose during menopause.
You can also look into bioidentical hormone replacement therapy as an alternative to traditional hormone therapy. It uses bioidentical hormones that are deemed to be safer since it is natural and the chemicals are identical to the ones that the body produces. Under supervision, bioidentical hormone therapy may also be effective for hair loss.
Anti-androgens such as spironolactone are also used for managing hair loss. An anti-androgen drug can stop the excess production of androgens that accelerate the loss and thinning of hair. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome are more prone to high androgen levels since they tend to produce more of it, and taking spironolactone can help with its symptoms.
Products with cyproterone acetate may also manage hair loss. It’s a hormone-based medication that can also work to reduce testosterone levels in women. It is often used together with estradiol, another female hormone, for birth control pills.
Choosing to get hormone therapy is not a decision that you should make by yourself. You need to consult with a healthcare provider to know the pros and cons of the treatment. It will help to discuss in detail your medical history and disclose if there are any health conditions that run in the family. You should also be aware of the potential health risks that can come with getting hormone therapy.
Some of the common side effects of taking HRT are breast tenderness, headaches, bloating, nausea, and vaginal bleeding. Long-term use of HRT has also been associated with blood clot diseases and increased risks for breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and endometrial cancer.
The good thing about menopausal hair thinning and hair loss is that it is not a permanent condition. Your hair will still grow back but it may take some time. Fortunately, there are ways that can help manage its symptoms and prevent severe hair loss. Here are some tips to keep your hair healthy during menopause:
For hair loss problems that are caused by changes to the hormones, getting hormone replacement therapy can help improve its symptoms and encourage new hair growth. If you’re interested in HRT, the first thing you need to do is to find a trusted provider who will help create the right treatment plan for you.
Here at Revitalize You MD, we provide safe and effective hormone replacement therapies for the changes that you experience in your body. Whether it is testosterone replacement therapy or estrogen hormone therapy, our trained staff will ensure that each plan is customized to your needs. Contact us now and schedule your appointment.
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