Menopause almost always affects the hair on your scalp. Symptoms of menopause can also include dullness, dryness and thinning of your skin, hot flashes, mood changes, decreased sexual desire and increased facial hair.
Fifty is the average age for menopause, but changes to your hair can begin long before, and is one reason why hair thinning during menopause is difficult to counteract. Nobody over 40 has the same volume of hair they had in their twenties, but menopause is an extra and accelerating cause. The pattern of menopausal hair thinning is similar to the early stages of male pattern hair loss.
Most commonly, you may notice a reduction in the thickness (volume) of each strand. This is not immediate, but gradual. There may also be recession at your frontal hairline and temples, or you might have increased hair fall.
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause are often the most distressing. From a psychological viewpoint, it is very common for a woman to scrutinize herself in the mirror more closely, and particular attention might be paid to hair. Hair has deep psychological and sexual meaning.
Both menopause and loss of hair are often associated with loss of femininity and sexuality. These thoughts and changes can all feed into each other, and it becomes a vicious and demoralizing cycle. Rest assured, though, it is very rare for a woman to go bald. And things can be done to get the best out of your hair during this stressful time.
The basis for changes during menopause is a decrease in oestrogen. Oestrogens effect your menstrual cycle, sexual arousal, appetite, mood swings and skin, and also the growth cycle of your hair. During menopause, you may find your hair won’t grow as long.
This is because oestrogens keep your hair in the growing phase, and the longer the growing phase, the longer your hair can grow. Reduced oestrogen levels cause your hair’s growth cycle to shorten and your hair sheds before it reaches the length that it used to be able to.
Androgens are male hormones. They are found in women as well as men, but to a lesser degree. Menopause causes androgen levels to increase, which can in turn trigger thinning of the hair on your scalp and can also cause extra facial and body hair. Androgens do not necessarily decrease your number of scalp hairs, but reduce their diameter and length. The result is a loss of volume or ‘body’. Your hair may not be falling out more, or failing to grow back - but the replacement hairs are weaker and finer.