But, before going deeper into the role of menopause and aging in hair loss, here is a brief look at the problem of alopecia. Although it can begin anytime after puberty, alopecia is a common form of hair loss after 50.
Alopecia: Two Types
Alopecia areata affects about 5 million people in the United States. This type of hair loss is considered an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system attacks its very own hair follicles. Other onset factors include a person’s genetic makeup, other illness, pregnancy, and stress.
The first sign of alopecia areata is typically a small, round, and smooth patch of baldness on the scalp. Some people eventually experience complete baldness, or alopecia totalis. Others may lose hair over their entire body, called alopecia universalis. The course of alopecia areata is unpredictable, and hair may grow back only to fall out again.
Androgenic alopecia refers here to the female version of male pattern baldness. It has been linked to an inherited sensitivity to the male sex hormone, androgen. Women usually experience a diffuse hair thinning over their entire scalp instead of the actual baldness that develops in men.
Menopause and After
At menopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and this seems to be responsible, or partly so, for hair thinning (and that cheeky peach fuzz that seems to appear overnight). Other factors related to hair loss are high levels of stress, illness, hormonal imbalances, harsh hair products, and a genetic disposition for this problem.
Blood-sugar levels, thyroid tests, and an evaluation for rheumatoid disease may be suggested by your doctor to rule out other possible causes for any hair loss. A test for excessive androgen in your system is appropriate if the loss is sudden. As for managing the unwanted loss or growth, it is recommended you see a doctor to discuss possible lifestyle changes and medication options.
Lifestyle Change Ideas
Suggested life style adjustments are a healthy diet, getting plenty of B vitamins (especially B6), enjoying a cup of green tea every day, losing some pounds, and trying shampoo that contains hyaluronic acid. These changes may help restore hair growth although it will take three to four months before you know. Even if taking these suggestions does not restore your hair, they are good habits for general well-being.
Stress hormones and insulin, if the levels are high, can cause an excess of androgen in the body. Reducing stress may lower the androgen enough to stop intrusive hair from peppering the chin. It is best to choose stress reduction activities you enjoy, or you will just add one more good intention to humanity’s good intention junk-yard. Walking, meditation, yoga, visualization, shooting some hoops, caring for a pet, swimming, playing with the grandchildren, and gardening are suggestions.
Medicinal options for menopause and post-menopause hair loss include a limited-term prescription for estrogen, Minoxidil, or steroids. All of these medications carry possible side-effects and should be discussed with your doctor. Another option is Low Level Laser Therapy, this non –invasive technology utilizes cool therapeutic low level lasers to cosmetically treat the appearance of thinning hair, maintain hair and slow down further hair loss.
**A Natural Hair and Scalp Treatment for Hair Loss
Make a blend of essential oils:
Rosemary: 3 drops Geranium: 4 drops Lavender: 5 drops Cypress: 4 drops Cinnamon: 2 drops Juniper: 2 drops
Each day, take one drop of the above blend and mix it with 1/4 teaspoon of water. Massage this into the areas of your scalp that are thinning or balding. It is recommended you do this at night for best results. (Even if it doesn’t help your hair grow back, it smells wonderful.)
**Resource: Worwood, Valerie Ann, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, New World Library, 1991.