PSA to all women: hair loss can affect you just like it can affect men. However, we rarely highlight the extent to which hair loss affects women because it is less discussed and acknowledged. Indeed, it is almost less tolerated by society as we are constantly bombarded with images of women with thick, beautiful hair.
Rarely do we see photos featuring women with thinning hair, which consequently has created a culture where women who struggle with hair loss are silenced and even shamed. Yet, with nearly 40% of women suffering from female pattern baldness, it is high time we stop pretending women don’t struggle with hair loss and start learning about why this happens and how we can treat it.
The Hair Growth Cycle In Women
Hair growth in both men and women follows the same cyclical pattern. Every individual hair strand goes through 3 phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
The growing phase of the hair growth cycle is anagen. Among the three stages, anagen is the most lengthy, lasting between 4-7 years. As you may imagine, the longer your anagen phase, the longer your hair will grow. Most people find that they reach a maximum length for how long they can grow their hair, which is determined mainly by your DNA.
After the anagen phase, the follicle switches to the transitional stage of catagen, where the hair stops growing, and it begins to detach from your scalp. This phase lasts between 10-14 days.
The final phase of the hair growth cycle is telogen, where the hair completely separates from the follicle and eventually falls out. This phase is known as the resting phase because it stays attached to your scalp, but nothing is really happening at this point. Telogen lasts between 2-3 months and ends when the hair sheds. People typically lose between 50-100 hairs per day. Sometimes, you can lose more hair than that in a condition called telogen effluvium. In this condition, you can lose almost 300 hairs per day. This temporary form of hair loss is usually spurred by a situation causing severe stress. A heightened stress response can draw nutrients and oxygen away from growing hair follicles, forcing them to shed.
What Affects the Progression of the Hair Growth Cycle in Women?
Numerous factors can cause hair loss in women. However, one of the leading causes has to do with hormones. Women’s bodies are regulated by cyclical hormone fluctuations, which rise and fall in monthly cycles. Estrogen is one of the primary hormones involved in this cycle, and its fluctuations can affect your hair follicles. Indeed, there are estrogen receptors all over a woman’s body, so any significant changes in estrogen can have numerous effects on all body systems.
Perhaps one of the biggest hormonal changes in a woman’s life is menopause. When women reach this stage of life (menopause occurs on average at age 51), they often notice their hair becomes thinner. A drop in estrogen is partially responsible for menopause and hair thinning. Menopause also correlates with middle age and beyond, which is when both men and women start to experience hair loss at greater rates.
Another period of significant hormonal changes is pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. During these phases, estrogen levels are either unusually high or low. In the case of pregnancy, estrogen levels surge, which often leads women to have longer anagen phases. However, when childbirth starts, estrogen levels wane and stay relatively low during the first few months of postpartum and even throughout breastfeeding. Many women find they have significant postpartum hair loss. However, it is not temporary, and it is just a result of the anagen phase lengthening during your pregnancy.
Women are more likely to experience autoimmune disorders than men. Indeed, 8 out of 10 autoimmune diagnoses are assigned to women. There are numerous theories as to why this is, but nothing concrete has yet been determined. Hair loss happens to be a common symptom in most types of autoimmune disorders. Unfortunately, this also increases a woman’s risk for struggling with hair thinning.
Stress can affect the hair growth cycle in both men and women. When your cortisol levels are chronically high, the body channels its nutrients and oxygen to other more critical tissues and functions in your body. Controlling your stress levels is key for keeping your hair thick and healthy, as well as optimizing your overall health and wellbeing.
Men and women generally need the same nutrients. However, there are some sex differences between the recommended daily intakes (RDI) of certain nutrients. For example, women often require higher levels of iron than men, especially if they are pregnant or menstruating. Making sure you get the nutrients you need to support hair growth and your whole body is crucial to feeling well at any life stage.
How Can Women Reset the Cycle of Hair Loss and Thinning?
We now know that certain stages of life increase your risk for hair loss and thinning. Some are temporary (like during postpartum), whereas others are more permanent (such as in menopause and chronic health conditions). Resetting your hair growth cycle to prevent furhter hair loss requires certain steps, including:
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Taking a hair support supplement like the REVITA Nutraceutical Tablets for Hair Growth Support
- Washing your hair with a hair growth and support product like the REVITA and REVITA.CBD shampoo and conditioners
- Treating underlying scalp conditions, such as dandruff or Malassezia with medicated shampoos like DANDRENE
- Managing chronic health conditions, such as thyroid disease and diabetes
- Using a hair growth serum with NANOXIDIL 5% once you start to notice permanent hair loss
- Meeting with your dermatologist to see if there is another underlying condition causing your hair loss like alopecia areata.