Hair loss is the most noticeable physical change associated with the menopause
The most common symptoms of menopause are hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings, however one of the most physically noticeable changes is hair loss. It is common to lose about 50-100 hairs each day but as they are constantly being regenerated by the hair follicle we don't notice however during menopause hair loss occurs at a greater extent resulting in thinning.
Hair loss during menopause is usually a direct result of fluctuating hormone levels. The two most important hormones involved in hair growth are oestrogen and testosterone. The most common type of hair loss for a menopausal woman is caused by an oestrogen deficiency - hair follicles need oestrogen to sustain hair growth.
As oestrogen decreases male hormones known as androgens increase - this leads to another type of hair loss. An androgen known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) appears to bind to hair follicles and force them to go into the 'resting' phase of growth which is when a healthy hair normally falls out. It also causes hair follicles to shrink resulting in less hair on the head but a greater production of hair on the face.
Hair loss can be sudden or gradual, becoming drier and more brittle it may fall out while washing or brushing it - it is very common and can be extremely upsetting.
The good news is it's possible to treat!
Many women are prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to address some of the common menopausal problems. HRT works to restore oestrogen back to its pre-menopausal levels and is therefore an effective hair loss treatment however there is a lot of controversy about the use of HRT for long periods of time due to it's side effects. Read on to find out how to take a more natural but effective approach.
Get a balanced diet
The most important thing is a balanced diet - deficiencies in B and C vitamins as well as not getting enough iron and protein can cause hair to fall out.
Foods that promote hair growth include:
- Protein - liver, fish, eggs, beans, cottage cheese and yoghurt
- Iron - liver, whole grain cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, dates and raisins
- B Vitamins - eggs, meat and poultry
- Essential fatty acids - walnuts, fish and soya
- Vitamin E - avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil
- Sulfur - meats, fish, nuts, legumes and onions
Cutting out caffeine and alcohol and exercising regularly will help to promote regenerative hair growth as will the active practice of stress reduction!
Try herbal remedies
Black cohosh - this is a phytoestrogenic herb which means that it contains eostrogenic compounds produced by the plant and addresses the hormonal imbalance by introducing plant based eostrogens into the body
Saw Palmetto Berry Extract – used in Europe extensively to address urinary, prostate and bladder concerns, this extract is well known to inhibit the conversion of testosterone into DHT and it blocks the uptake of DHT into the cells and follicles. This action is very similar to certain drugs used to address hair loss.
Plant sterols – these work in tandem with saw palmetto berry to block the formation of DHT which contributes to hair loss.
Supplement with follicle nourishing nutrients
All the following nutrients are easy to add to your diet by way of a supplement and may help to speed up the hair growth rate:
Whatever approach you decide to take it's important to remember to take action as soon as possible in order to slow or even reverse the process and to help protect the existing hair.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.