It may be the 21st century but for women, even in this day and age, there seem to be so many unfair biological downsides that one can’t help feeling bitterness toward Eve for picking that apple. But with the help of science, we’re slowly discovering ways to balance the scale.
Take the issue of hair loss for example. Sure, men have an 50 per cent chance of inheriting male pattern hair loss compared to roughly 40 percent of women experiencing female pattern hair loss, but as far as treatment is concerned, there are more options available to men.
Presently only two treatments for hair loss are FDA approved but only one of those is suitable for women. However, research is beginning to see a silver lining. According to a study by the University of Bologna, finasteride (the active ingredient in Propecia) may improve female pattern hair loss – and be safe – when combined with oral contraceptives.
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence have not yet licensed Propecia for women’s use because it can cause malformation in male fetuses. Due to this concern, clinical trials of finasteride as a treatment for female pattern hair loss were originally restricted to post menopausal women. One study that evaluated the use of finasteride in postmenopausal women with androgenetic alopecia (inherited, female pattern hair loss) found that finasteride did not improve hair loss. This is surprising considering the efficacy of Propecia in male pattern hair loss. The more recent study, however, tested finasteride with pre-menopausal women with androgenetic alopecia while taking an oral contraceptive containing drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Results found 62 percent of the women experienced some improvement but it is still unclear whether the success was due to a higher dosage of finasteride (2.5 mg instead of 1 mg which is issued to men) or to its association with the oral contraceptive containing drospirenone, similar to the natural hormone progesterone, which has an anti-androgenic effect. In other words, it blocks male hormones such as testosterone but the interesting thing is studies have revealed that drospirenone has an anti-androgenic potency five to 10 times greater than progesterone.
Female hair loss is not as well understood as male hair loss but is thought to be caused by the actions of two enzymes – aromatase (which is found predominantly in women) and 5-alpha reductase (which is found in both women and men). The action of 5-a reductase is the main cause of androgenetic alopecia in men, as this enzyme converts the hormone testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is responsible for the shrinking and gradual disappearance of affected hair follicles. Finasteride works by inhibiting the formation of the DHT hormone which is known to cause male hair loss.
Women have half the amount of 5-alpha reductase compared to men, but have higher levels of the enzyme aromatase, especially at their frontal hairline. Aromatase is responsible for the formation of the female hormones estrone and estradiol. It also decreases the formation of DHT. Its presence in women may help to explain why the presentation of female hair loss is so different than in males, particularly with respect to the preservation of the frontal hairline. It may also explain why women have a poor response to finasteride compared to men.
Nevertheless, the study has prompted the need for further investigation into the use of finasteride as a hair loss treatment for women. Perhaps there will come a time when science discovers a perfectly safe recipe for women but until then there are still various treatment options. At the Belgravia Centre, women experiencing female pattern hair loss see great results with specifically tailored treatment programmes.
What make the Belgravia Centre stand out from the crowd are the personalised hair loss treatment plans our specialists put together for each individual client, based around not only high strength minoxidil from a wide selection available at our in-clinic pharmacies, but also added boosters to enhance the properties of the minoxidil. Medroxyprogesterone (MPG) can help to prevent DHT from interfering with the function of the hair follicles, complementing minoxidil’s reaction with the follicles, and adding to the response that is achieved. Azelaic acid works by inhibiting the 5-alpha reductase enzyme from the areas in which it is absorbed, thus helping to prevent testosterone converting to DHT.
Also available, and usually advised for use by women in order to maximise regrowth results, are the HairMax LaserComb which is a proven, FDA cleared handheld low-power laser device and Hair Vitalics, which is Belgravia’s natural hair growth food supplement.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.