5 Causes of Hair Loss In Women
What causes hair loss? Specifically what causes hair loss in a woman? We’re going to talk about the different categories or reasons for this. The different topics that we will cover as far as causes for hair loss in a woman, are not always gender specific. However, we are gonna to focus mainly on causes that relate to a woman at different stages (or ages) of her life. This way you can more easily target what might be wrong and what you might want to look into further.
What we're not discussing here is a specific type of hair loss called alopecia areata. We’re talking about more diffuse hair loss. Alopecia areata is more circular type of hair loss and we are not talking about that here. That's more of an autoimmune thing a little too specific for this post. Maybe in another article we will discuss that. We will discuss five main topics with the first one being iron. How does the iron relate to hair loss? Second one being thyroid. Third and fourth one being cell division and nutrient deficiencies. How are these related to hair loss loss? And then the fifth one being hormone related, specifically testosterone. In what capacity does testosterone cause hair loss?
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1. Cause of Hair loss in Women: Iron
We’re going to talk about hair loss, specifically, hair loss as it relates to women. What are the causes of hair loss in women or what are some things that contribute to this or lead to this? There’s five main areas that we are going to discuss. First thing is related to but not really caused by hormones and menopause. A lot of women start losing their hair around in the menopause or perimenopause age and there can be several scenarios to consider here. This is likely, but not always, related to their heavy menstrual cycles in perimenopuase and leading up to menopause.
A lot of times, perimenopausal women have higher amounts of estrogen, lower amounts of progesterone. This is called estrogen dominance and as a result, their cycles become much heavier and they're losing a lot of blood. With that blood, a lot of iron and they can become anemic. However they don't have to be anemic to start loosing hair. They could just be iron deficient. The more iron deficiency the more hair loss. It may start as loosing more hair or not enough hair growth back. Then it may start feeling like your hair is actually thinning. In fact, a lot of nutrients other than iron can do this which leads to a second topic, cell division.
2. Cause of Hair loss in Women: Cell Division
Every cell in your body that is rapidly dividing will slow or stop then there are nutrient deficiencies. You’ll start to see a lag in the cell turnover. This is why some chemotherapies cause hair loss and digestive problems. These drugs not only affect the cancer cells, they also affect the other rapidly diving cells in your body, like hair and digestive cells. Eventually all cells will stop diving if the nutrients get low enough but it shows up first in the rapidly dividing cells like hair and digestive cells.
Hair follicle cells are very rapidly dividing cells and requires a lot of DNA support for that. Two nutrients that are needed to support turn over of DNA and new cell production are vitamin B12 and folate.
Several other vitamins and micronutrients are needed too, but B12 and folate are more critical and problematic (when deficient). One reason for the deficiency is blood loss. When women have heavy menses in, they are also losing other nutrients in addition to iron.
Typically, these vitamins are readily available in the diet. However, if you are having issues with absorption of them as with the iron, you may start to see your hair falling out. Low consumption and decreased absorption are the most common reasons for deficiency of nutrients. The type of hair loss from these deficiencies is a more diffuse hair falling out.
3. Cause of Hair loss in Women: Thyroid
The third cause of hair loss in women is related to thyroid. Low thyroid output by the thyroid gland is a common cause for hair loss in women and men to a certain extent as well. Hypothyroid (low thyroid) is more common in females. This particular scenario may be associated with postpartum hair loss in particular. For instance, if you notice that after having a child you are loosing your hair and have other thyroid symptoms, you should have a through thyroid evaluation. Autoimmune hypothyroid, also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, commonly occurs in the postpartum female.
So think about how you fit in the these different scenarios to see what makes sense to be tested for. If you go see a doctor they should be looking at all or most of these things. As far as onset of hypothyroidism, it can occur at any point in your life. Some women have it before having children, after having children, or not even having children. So if you are having hair loss, get your thyroid tested.
4. Cause of Hair loss in Women: Nutrients and biotin
The fourth reason for hair loss is nutrients. So we covered some of this the cell division above, but there are a few more points to consider. Many times when people start loosing their hair they will get a hair supplement with biotin. With biotin, if you are deficient, it will lead to hair loss, but most people are not deficient in it. Is it going to harm you to put a little extra into your system? Probably not.
If it is not working, you should scratch this idea and look at other potential issues. Also should mention that some people do have genetic alterations in their ability to utilize biotin, requiring a much higher dose but this is rare.
5. Cause of Hair loss in Women: Testosterone
The last reason I wanted to discus is too much testosterone. Just like males lose hair resulting for a metabolite of testosterone, females can too. The metabolite of testosterone that causes this is called dihydrotestosterone oftentimes abbreviated DHT. For women getting hormone replacement therapy, in the form of pellet, topical, etc, it can cause hair loss.
Before you stopping taking your hormones, remember it is related to this specific compound DHT. If you are not taking testosterone or on a small dose chances are, your hair loss is not from this. You will only know if you check your testosterone levels and DHT levels.
If you're on a really high doses of testosterone, it's not uncommon to get some hair loss. The prescribing doctor needs to be aware of the hair loss and your levels of testosterone. By the time hair loss begins, it's usually three months into the prescription and it will take another 2-3 months for it to come back after discontinuing.
If you're thinking about going on testosterone therapy, make sure you're paying attention. It can lead to hair loss, especially if you are pushing total testosterone upper limits above 100 ng/dl. Anything above that could potentially cause more hair loss, but it won't necessarily do this.
So those are the five topics related to hair loss in a women. Basically, you need to get screened for these things specifically. They are not necessarily something that's gonna jump out at you on a typical blood screening. Typical and standard blood screenings will not have the values needed to understand what your body levels are. A full thyroid and full iron will be a good start. B12 and folate can be measured in the blood but they are not always accurate.
If these tests come out low, then there is an obvious issue there. Often times they are normal according to the lab. However, there are other ways to look at this more accurately.
So the above should give you a good starting place to look for causes of hair loss in women. There are other causes not discusses here but these are the most common. If you have any questions about the content of the video, please leave them in the comments section below.
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