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Things Guys Don’t Get about Women’s Hair Loss
January 27, 2015

Things Guys Don’t Get about Women’s Hair Loss

It's scary.


When hair starts to thin or shed, it's scary. It doesn't matter who you are. For more than 95% of men, though, hair loss is caused by androgenetic alopecia, the otherwise harmless genetic condition that cases male pattern baldness. Guys need to be screened for other, more dangerous conditions as soon as possible after their hair starts thinning, but most will share the same result. Women, on the other hand, have a lot more to consider.

The stakes of hair loss for men are primarily psychological and social. Since more of women's hair loss is caused by an underlying medical condition, chances are greater that another health issue is at play. Women have to deal with the social repercussions of hair loss, uncertainty about how far thinning will progress, and concern over their overall health. If a woman in your life confides to you that her hair is thinning, take a step back. Be attentive and patient, and consider that she's probably worried about more than how her hair looks.

It's isolating.


It can be easy to understand why guys don't always take hair loss as seriously as women do. Yes, we absolutely get how much it matters. But, if you're a guy, imagine not knowing anyone who's lost any of their hair – no one older than you, no one your age, no one. Try to imagine a time in your life when you didn't know anyone who was bald. It's just about impossible for most guys because, even if most of them don't talk about it, a huge majority of men lose their hair. Lots of women (up to 50% by age 50!) have thinning hair, too, but it's usually not out there in the open.

While going bald is a perfectly normal choice for men, it has most definitely not been accepted as a mainstream option for women. Thankfully, women now have a lot of great, natural-looking ways to replace their lost hair. But since it can be hidden so successfully, most women don't know about each other's hair loss. There are lots of women who don't joke about it or swap secrets. Most women never expect to lose their hair and have to actively seek out trusted resources when they do. Hair loss is always hard, but going through it alone is something no one should have to face.

People care.


It sounds like a good thing, but any way you slice it, too much of a good thing can be horrible. It's great when people who love and respect you show their support tastefully, discreetly, and when you need it. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Friends' attempts to make a woman feel better about her hair loss can feel dismissive and invalidating. Loved ones who try to help her get comfortable talking about it can just make that person feel vulnerable in moments when she'd rather be thinking about anything else. Having your family or kids worrying about you because they don't understand your hair loss can be a huge burden.

Also, people can care in both positive and negative ways. At the same time that loved ones are showing (sometimes overwhelming) concern for the woman facing hair loss, other people like classmates and co-workers could be shying away without even realizing it. Just like hair signals age for men, it can indicate health and vitality in a woman. When that starts to diminish – especially in a visible way – people can stare, treat you differently, or even needlessly fear for their own wellbeing.

Remember the golden rule.


We could all benefit from a little generosity of spirit. If someone has reacted poorly to your well-intended attempts to talk about their hair loss, cut them a little slack. There's a lot of emotion involved, and with good reason. And hair loss is different for everyone, so your also suffering hair loss doesn't necessarily mean you understand.
Likewise, if you're facing hair loss, try to keep in mind that people's intentions are often very different from the way their words make you feel. Give people room to be misinformed when you can, and take the opportunity to help them see things from your perspective. A lot more people having much better conversations about hair loss just might be enough to change the world.