By some figures, 50% of all women in the United States will suffer from some form of hair loss by the age of 50. Similar to men, in more than 90% of cases, the cause of hair loss in women is due to androgenic alopecia, or female pattern baldness.
What is Female Hair Loss?
Female hair loss is a genetic condition inherited from either parent. The genetically pretentious hair follicles in women experiencing female hair loss are susceptible to a byproduct of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, which causes the hair follicle to shed the normal hair and produce thinner, shorter, colorless hair. This peach-fuzz hair makes the scalp look thinner, and over time, the miniaturized hair follicles atrophy and die, causing permanent hair loss known as balding. There is no peach-fuzz hair in balding areas, and the scalp appears tight and shiny.
Baldness is an unalterable condition. Once the hair follicle has atrophied, it is gone forever. This would be similar to losing any other body part, and since we are not able to reproduce our body parts, there are no female hair loss products or remedies that can force the body to produce a new hair follicle.
Causes of Female Pattern Hair Loss
Women, just like men, inherit the gene for thinning hair from either parent. In women, testosterone is produced in the adrenal glands and the ovaries. Although testosterone gets converted to DHT in a woman’s body, it cannot cause female hair loss due to the protective effects of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones reduce DHT production and block DHT’s attachment to the hair follicle as long as they are present in adequate amounts. Any condition that can cause a decreased production of estrogen and progesterone or overproduction of DHT can cause thinning hair in genetically predisposed women. In women, hair loss can start at any age after puberty, but in most cases it occurs with menopause. The normal production of female hormones drops drastically during menopause, lowering a woman’s natural protection against thinning hair.
Hair loss in pre-menopausal women indicates an abnormal hormonal imbalance that requires medical investigation and appropriate treatment.
In post-menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy restores the normal hormonal levels and stops the process. In cases where hormonal replacement therapy is not recommended, the only other available medical option is Rogaine 2%. Although Rogaine activates the follicle’s growth phase, it has no effect on the DHT production that eventually leads to hair-follicle atrophy.