Treating androgenic hair loss in women
20th January 2020
There are several types of female hair loss. We will talk about the most common, which is thinning hair due to hormone imbalance (in general) and testosterone dominance (in particular), which is called "androgenic hair loss". It can occur anytime hormones are out of balance. Typically it occurs between the age of 45 and 55 as estrogen and progesterone begin to decline and as a woman is more likely to begin suffering from low thyroid.
The problem can be treated by:
- balancing estrogen and progesterone with testosterone and
- supplementing thyroid with a medication such as Levothyroxine, for those with an underactive thyroid
It is normal to loose between 50 to 100 hairs a day; this is part of the hair renewal process. Excessive hair loss caused by excess androgens (testosterone) and/or low thyroid, accounts for 95% of hair loss problems. Why does female hair loss occur?
Reasons for hair loss in women
Hair loss in women can occur because of increased levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) - a potent form of testosterone. Like some men, the hair follicles of the head of some women can be particularly sensitive to DHT. DHT is produced by a conversion of regular testosterone as a result of declines in other hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
Another cause of hair loss in women is a decline in thyroid hormone. This is known as a condition called an underactive thyroid, which causes other symptoms including fatigue and weight gain.
What can be done to prevent hair loss?
A good starting point is to check the level of hormones to see if your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone (and DHT) and/or thyroid are balanced at healthy levels. This should explain most, if not all, of the problem. If your hormone levels are low, then you may be prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This can help to remedy a number of different symptoms of the menopause, including hair loss or thinning.
The importance of a good diet and adequate levels of nitric oxide in the blood cannot be strongly enough stated. Nitric oxide is important for the sexual function of men and women. It appears adding nitric oxide to your circulatory system is not only good for your sex life and cardiovascular system, but it can also aid in preventing hair loss.
Here are some basic guidelines that can aid in your efforts:
Maintain a balanced diet - approximately 33% Protein; 33% Carbohydrate; 33% Fat. It is important to minimize refined carbohydrates and limit the amount of saturated fat.
Don't try to make a major change all at once. Know where you are going and do it in small steps.
Take a sensible regimen of vitamins - This is the best chance of levelling out and balancing the body's needs as it gets older. We often know what is bad for the body; we seldom know what the body is missing. With a multiple vitamin the idea is that we give the body a variety of things we believe it might need - it will then take what it needs and eliminate what it doesn't need in body waste. There are many multiple vitamins on the market. Take a daily packet of vitamins designed to meet a wide variety of needs.
Exercise should be done with consistency and moderation. Like diet, determine where you are and where you want to go. If you are a "couch potato", find ways to put activity back in your day - take the stairs, park in the space farthest from the store or go for a walk with your spouse or dog, as examples. Work up to a level of at least 30 minutes 4 to 5 times per week. Remember there was a time when a machine did not wash clothes, open the garage door or change channels on the TV.
Stress is sometimes called a "killer". It has an element of real truth. Stress causes the body to produce a hormone called cortisol. "Killer Cortisol" as it is sometimes called, is very catabolic - it destroys body tissues. It is destructive to the entire body but principally to the brain. Article coming soon. Cortisol is also the nemesis of growth hormone. Reducing or eliminating the sources of stress can help control cortisol in the body. Learning basic relaxation techniques, such a simple breathing, can minimize the effects of stress.
Female hormone imbalance
Following is a chart of female hormone imbalances, root cause and symptom.
|Type of Symptom||What it may mean:|
|Hot flashes||Low estrogen primarily estradiol|
|Mood swings||Low estrogen primarily estradiol|
|Vaginal dryness||Low estriol|
|Bleeding||May be temporary due to too much estradiol and/or not enough progesterone|
|Hair loss / Hair on Lip||Low estrogen and progesterone creating testosterone dominance and/or low thyroid|
|Low sex drive||Low testosterone i.e. free testosterone|
|Breast tenderness||High estradiol and/or low progesterone|
|Dry Skin||Low estradiol, estriol and/or thyroid|
|Water retention (weight gain)||Low progesterone|
|Fibroids in uterus or breast cysts||Too much estrogen and/or not enough progesterone|
|Mental fogginess - forgetfulness||Low estrogen, testosterone and/or thyroid|
|Depression||Low estrogen, testosterone and/or thyroid|
|Loss of Energy||Low estrogen, testosterone and/or thyroid|
|Anxiety||Low progesterone and/or thyroid|
|Bone Loss||Low estradiol, progesterone and/or testosterone.|
Important elements of female hormone balance
Androgenic hair falling out in women is a symptom of the larger problem of hormone imbalance. Following are many elements that are required to be healthy so that hair loss is discouraged.
There are three main forms of estrogen.
EstradiolEstradiol is the strongest and most plentiful. It has the greatest effect in stopping the symptoms of hot flashes and mood swings but is the most dangerous in terms of potential for cancer.
EstroneEstrone is produced by fat cells and a woman may, therefore, continue to produce this naturally even after menopause.
Estriol is the gentle hormone that is plentiful in the body during pregnancy. It is the weakest one but has great potential in reducing the need for estradiol, estrone and relieving symptoms such as vaginal dryness, dry skin and hair loss.
Progesterone is essential to protect against osteoporosis and as a balance to the estrogens.
Testosterone is essential to prevent osteoporosis, boost mental sharpness, muscle retention, metabolism, energy and sex drive.
Thyroid hormone is critical to overall hormone function. As people age this hormone tends to decline, producing a condition known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can contribute to hair loss in women. Treating this condition can help to restore hair growth.
In women, the thyroid probably is the most important of all hormones as it relates to how a woman feels and the least diagnosed problem. Low thyroid is very common in women over the age of 40.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
As people age, like other hormones, thyroid hormones tend to decline. Women, in particular, tend to become hypothyroid. A few symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Low basal temperature -- general sensitivity to cold
- Thinning hair -- A major issue often ignored by doctors
- Dry skin and hair and brittle nails
- Anxiety and irritability – Sleep problems
- High cholesterol
- Mental fogginess
- Metabolic rate falls – weight gain – increased body fat