Friday, March 31, 2017

10 Causes of Hair Loss in Women (and what to do about it!)

Thinning hair worrying you?  Lets do something about it. 

Are you dismayed by how much hair you see in the hairbrush and shower each day?  Hair loss can be extremely devastating for women, and it is not uncommon for women to be in tears in the office because of emotional distress from their hair loss.  While women do not typically lose all their hair, once the hair shedding is underway baldness feels like a very real possibility!  

Here are 8 reasons you may be losing your hair.

 1.  Thyroid problems 

Thyroid problems are a common cause of hair loss, and since thyroid problems are very common in women, we see this often.  Other symptoms associated with low thyroid function include:  fatigue, weight gain, constipation, feeling cold, depressed mood, anxiety, poor memory, low libido, dry skin, and dry/dull hair.  Standard thyroid blood tests often overlook subtle thyroid dysfunction, but even mild problems can be associated with distressing hair loss.  Many women who are being treated with standard thyroid hormone replacement continue to have symptoms despite treatment.  Fortunately, with a more comprehensive lab assessment and natural thyroid replacement, we can optimize thyroid function and achieve healthier, thicker hair.   An over-functioning thyroid gland can also cause hair loss, so good thyroid balance is important. 

2.  Stress

 Cortisol is your main stress hormone.  It is produced in your adrenal glands  to help you cope with emotional stressors, as well as physiologic stressors  (such as pain, allergies, insomnia, toxin exposures, etc). If cortisol levels  are abnormal, hair loss can result.  If you can reduce your stress, your hair  loss may diminish, but you made need some help.  It is possible to measure  your cortisol levels and while there are no prescription medicines to correct  this problem, there are lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements that  can help resolve the issue.

3.  Menopause

Hormone changes associated with menopause (or peri-menopause) can also cause thinning hair (and thinning skin, and thinning bones….).  Restoring hormone levels with bio-identical hormone replacement can help improve the health of your hair (and skin, and bones!) . In a study of women receiving testosterone pellet therapy, 63% noted hair regrowth, and none of the women in the study reported an increase in hair loss after treatment with testosterone.  (Glaser et al, British Journal of Dermatology, 2012).

4.  Prescription medications

Many drugs can contribute to hair loss in women, including the use of birth control pills.  The American Hair Loss Assocation (AHLA) recommends that women consider using a low-androgen index birth control pills to avoid possible hairlsos, especially if they are genetically predisposed to hair loss.  Changing pills or choosing a non-hormonal birth control option may help to correct the problem.  .

5.  Pre-diabetes

Diabetes, or even pre-diabetes may be associated with hair loss.   A holistic approach to balancing blood sugar metabolism including lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements, and weight loss may have a positive impact on hair loss, as well as reducing the risks for some very serious longterm health issues.

6.  Nutritional deficiencies

While americans do not typically suffer with malnutrition, we tend to be nutritionally deficient due to poor quality food choices.  Even if you are trying hard to eat right, the food available at the grocery store may not have optimal vitamin and mineral content due to our modern farming practices.  If you have symptoms such as gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea your ability to digest and absorb the nutrients in your food may be impaired.  Certain medications, such as ant-acids, can also impair your ability to digest nutrients.  Nutritional testing is available to determine whether this may be a problem for you.

One of the common nutrient deficiencies we see associated with hair loss is an iron deficiency.  The lab test that is most helpful is a ferritin level -  this is a marker of your iron stores, and if your level is below 80 it is possible that insufficient iron levels may be contributing to the problem

7.  Chronic disease

If you have any chronic disease, hair growth may be slowed to help redirect your body’s resources to other areas to help promote healing.  So hair loss may be a symptom of another problem going on in your body, such as an auto-immune disorder or chronic inflammatory condition.

8.   Androgenic Alopecia

This is the medical name for genetic hair loss (female pattern baldness)  This is hereditary and happens slowly over time (over a period of many years). Typically there is family history of baldness in male relatives and thinning hair in female relatives.  Women do not typically become completely bald.  Hair loss is first noticeable at areas of parts, and hair thinning progresses until the scalp becomes visible.  The hair loss occurs even with normal levels of hormones so treatment for hair loss, such as a PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment,  is frequently required to restore hair growth.

9.  Alopecia Areata

This is a medical condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing patches of hair loss.   This is much less common, but more difficult to manage.  The hair may not grow back on its own and may require treatment to restore hair growth.  PRP has been effective in helping with this type of hair loss. 

10.  Physical stress  

If you have any kind of physical trauma, such as a severe illness, a serious injury or surgery, this can trigger increased hair shedding which is not usually seen until 3-6 months later.  The stressful event "shocks" the hair cycle temporarily, so less hair is shed around the time of the incident (you don't notice this!).  When the hair cycle starts up again, more hair is lost all at once (so you notice the shedding!).  The good news is that this is a self limited problem called "telogen effluvium", and the hair growing cycles will reset and go back to normal without treatment.

Healthy Hair Recommendations

Reduce stress.  Simplify your life if possible, and know that it is not always the AMOUNT of stress you are under that is the biggest factor, but how you ALLOW the stress to affect you that matters. 

Ensure hormonal balance – Take steps to restore hormone levels to optimal ranges.  Measuring your hormone levels and restoring normal hormone balance with natural, bio-identical hormone therapy can be life changing for women and affects far more benefits than simply improving the health of your hair. 

Improve nutrition and optimize digestive health to allow better absorption of nutrients.  Eat whole foods including fruits and vegetables, avoid processed food and especially sugar.  Ensure that you are not iron deficient, and consider being tested for a full panel of nutrients. 

Get regular moderate exercise – exercise increases blood flow to the scalp and improves your overall health.  Since your hair is a reflection of your overall health, your nutrition and fitness level are important to hair health.

Take biotin, a nutrient that can be helpful for hair and nails.  Our patients have found excellent results with RegeneMax Plus, which is a form of biotin with added silica (another nutrient important for hair).  This has worked better than standard biotin, and has quickly become one of our top selling supplements (people come back for more because they can see a difference!)

Consider PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatments.  PRP is appropriate for most woman concerned about hair thinning.  By the time the hair thinning is visible, approximately 50% of the hairs have been lost.  Most women are well aware far sooner – their pony tail is thinner, their part becomes wider and they can see the hair shedding.  PRP treatments will have the best effects on hair follicles that still have some function.  This innovative procedure has been featured on  ABC news (Oct 2015).

For best results, it is important to address your hair loss BEFORE it is in the advanced stages  So starting sooner rather than later (as a preventive measure) is perfectly reasonable.

If you would like more information or need help to correct your hair loss issues, please contact the office at 704-752-9346 or email us at  More information is available at  

Deborah Matthew MD

No comments:

Post a Comment