You may have thought you were one up on men in the biological war but not only testosterone-strong males experience hair loss. In fact (and unfairly), up to 50% of women will experience some form of hair loss in their lifetime. You might have heard that pregnancy, the contraceptive pill and menopause are possible causes of hair loss, but are they really? Well, yes and no. An understanding of why female hair loss happens and what role estrogen plays in hair growth may help to make this answer clearer.
Oestrogen is the dominant female sex hormone and is essential in the development of female characteristics. It can be found in men as well but in smaller quantities. It is the opposite the primary male sex hormone testosterone, which is also found in women but again in smaller quantities.
What does oestrogen have to do with hair loss?
While testosterone converts to DHT to destroy the hair, estrogen promotes hair growth by counteracting the testosterone that leads to female pattern hair loss and lengthens the hair growth phase (anagen).
During pregnancy, high concentration of estrogen levels in women result in the development of thicker, stronger, longer and healthier looking hair. Following pregnancy however, women tend to fret and think that they’re losing their hair when in fact they’re merely shedding the excess hair that the excess oestrogen created. The hair that was in a prolonged anagen stage are now all shifting into telogen (resting phase) to make way for new hair growth. This type of hair loss is comes under the condition known as telogen effluvium but the good news is that when oestrogen levels have returned to normal, your hair will too.
During menopause however, your oestrogen levels might drop. This will result a hormonal imbalance which can pave the way for the male hormone DHT to flood the hair follicles. It’s important to note however that not all hormonal imbalances are related to oestrogen. Some can be caused by other conditions such as a thyroid problem.
Hormone replacement therapy, contraceptive pills and eating foods high in oestrogen (like chicken and eggs) can increase oestrogen levels but you should always seek specialist medical advice first. Research indicates excess oestrogen can promote various conditions such as breast cancer, gall bladder problems and heart disease.
Women using oestrogen supplementation or taking birth control pills will also experience hair loss when they cease supplying their body with extra oestrogen. These forms of hair loss may be temporary but this, however, does not mean that there is no link between oestrogen and permanent hair loss. Scientists have noted up to 30 hormones that could play a role in female pattern hair loss – the genetic kind of hair loss – and oestrogen, whilst poorly explored, may be one of them. It’s alright if the excess hairs are the ones that are lost but when normal hair falls out, there’s a problem.
What can be done?
If you’re losing more than 100 hairs a day it may be worth seeking the help of a hair loss professional. Oestrogen and hair loss may or may not be problematic but there is still the chance that your hair follicles may become damaged in the process. There is currently no concrete evidence that links an increase in oestrogen to the effective treatment of hair loss, but there are hair loss treatments that have FDA-approval for the specific purpose of regrowing hair. Topical products like minoxidil are proven to promote hair growth and there are also anti-androgen products that could help to deflect the creation of DHT. Early treatment is the key to successful hair restoration so if you’re concerned, contact the Belgravia Centre to ensure that you will keep your head of hair full, healthy, and strong.
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