Postmenopausal Hair Loss

Menopause, is when a woman’s body makes a natural shift from more-or-less regular cycles of ovulation and menstruation to infertility. Hair loss is a common and upsetting menopausal symptom which can cause women to suffer a loss of confidence and self-esteem. Understanding why postmenopausal hair loss occurs, and being aware of treatment options will help you take action to effectively treat the condition and help restore your hair health.

Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) also called female pattern hair loss (FPHL), involves a diffuse reduction in hair density, but unlike men with male pattern baldness, the frontal hairline is retained. As many as 10 percent of pre-menopausal women reportedly have some evidence of androgenetic alopecia; however, the incidence increases greatly in menopausal women. As many as 50-75 percent of women 65 years or older may be affected by androgenetic alopecia [1,2].

What is postmenopausal hair loss?

Many people assume that androgenetic alopecia or pattern hair loss is a condition that mostly affects men, but what is less well known is that all women experience some degree of postmenopausal hair loss and thinning.. The most common sign of female pattern hair loss is noticeable hair thinning at the part line, which progresses to diffuse hair loss, where the scalp can be seen through the hair all over the scalp. However, while hair loss during menopause in women can sometimes be severe, it rarely results in complete baldness.

Since postmenopausal hair loss can affect a woman’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth, it is vital to know that it can be dealt with successfully.

What causes postmenopausal hair loss?

Research suggests that postmenopausal hair loss is the result of a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, it’s related to a lowered production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help hair grow faster and stay on the head for longer periods of time. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner. A decrease in these hormones also triggers an increase in the production of androgens, or a group of male hormones. Androgens shrink hair follicles, resulting in hair loss on the head.

Estrogen is not the only hormone that comes into play with the issue of menopausal hair loss. Testosterone (which women have in minute quantities in their body) converts to dihydrotestosterone or DHT. DHT appears to bind to hair follicles and force them to go into their “resting” phases, or telogen, sooner than is normal, shrinks the hair follicles and causes the new hairs to grow into fine, wispy, vellus hair with each cycle of hair growth.

What can be utilized to effectively treat postmenopausal hair loss?

• There is only one drug, minoxidil which is FDA approved for treating androgenetic alopecia (pattern hair loss) in women and only one non-drug option, the HairMax laser devices with FDA Clearance for treatment of female pattern hair loss and the promotion of hair growth.

• Oral Drugs - There are also a number of drugs utilized to treat FPHL which are not FDA approved for treatment such as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, androgen receptor blockers, estrogen and oral contraceptive drugs. However, these drugs can have a number of side effects, (some serious) that defeat the purposes of treating postmenopausal hair loss without causing side effects from treatment.

• Minoxidil – Minoxidil is an over-the-counter (nonprescription) drug that is FDA approved for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men and women. Minoxidil is a liquid or foam that you rub into your scalp twice daily to grow hair and to prevent further loss. This can be messy and time consuming and can cause the growth of facial hair in women if it runs onto their face. Minoxidil is not a ‘silver bullet’ as far as efficacy. Results from clinical studies of women ages 18 to 45 years with mild to moderate degrees of hair loss report that after using minoxidil for eight months, 19% of users had moderate regrowth and 40% had minimal regrowth. Of those using a liquid without active minoxidil (a placebo) during the same time period, 7% reported moderate hair regrowth while 33% had minimal regrowth.[3[

• HairMax laser devices – The HairMax® laser devices are a non-prescription home-use laser phototherapy medical devices which are easy and convenient to use, requiring treatment just 3 times a week for 8- 15 minutes per session. The HairMax laser devices utilize only lasers and do not contain LED’s which have not been proven to be effective in treating hair loss. Best of all, no harmful side effects have ever occurred from the use of these devices. The HairMax has FDA Clearance and extensive clinical proof of efficacy [4], for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia and the promotion of hair growth in both men and women*. In a recent 26 week clinical study involving 81 women with an average age of 49 years old, 100% regrew hair and had an average increase of 85% more hair growth than that of the control device [1].

In conclusion, the HairMax laser devices are the ideal first-line choice for the treatment of FPHL as they have been proven safe and effective without any harmful side effects, unlike the drugs sometimes used to treat the condition. They can not only help regrow lost hair, but can also help prevent further progression of hair loss, and can help to positively restore your feelings of ‘self’.

2. Norwood OT. Incidence of female androgenetic alopecia (female pattern alopecia). Dermatol Surg. 2001 Jan;27(1):53-4.

[I]*HairMax Laser devices are indicated to treat Androgenetic Alopecia, and promote hair growth in males who have Norwood Hamilton Classifications of IIa to V and in females who have Ludwig (Savin) I-4, II-1, II-2, or frontal patterns of hair loss and who both have Fitzpatrick Skin Types I to IV