Can You Prevent Perimenopause Hair Loss?

3 minute read

By: Vivian Manning-Schaffel|Last updated: May 10, 2022
Medically reviewed by: Sharon D. Malone

If you’re perimenopausal and have discovered menopausal hair thinning, or that you’re losing hair, you’re not alone.

In fact, a third of women experience perimenopausal hair loss (also known as “alopecia”) at some time in their lives and as many as two-thirds of postmenopausal women suffer from thinning hair or bald spots, according to Harvard Health

Why? The answer is the same factor that made your hair thicken during pregnancy: Hormone levels. Science has confirmed their role in hair gain and loss, time and again.

Before we get too deep into what causes perimenopausal hair loss, let’s start at the beginning, as in it’s important to know that hair goes through cycles of shedding and hair regrowth throughout our lives. All told, women typically lose between 50 and 100 single hairs per day. 

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Cycles of hair growth

The anagen, or growing phase

Believe it or not, most of the hair on your head (as much as 85 percent to 90 percent) has been growing there during what’s called the anagen phase (growing phase) anywhere between two and eight years. During this phase, your hair follicle cells grow upward.

The catagen, or transition phase

When in transition or catagen phase, which lasts between two and three weeks, your hair follicles begin to shrink, and the hair shaft contracts. 

The telogen, or resting phase

During this two- to four-month phase, hair prepares to fall out and finally does at the end. Typically, around 4 percent of your hair is usually in this phase, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Of course, aside from hormones, several other factors can contribute to perimenopause hair loss too, like genetics (did your mom lose her hair?), stress and certain meds, including chemo. 

But according to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the hair growth cycle, as well as the structure of the hair follicle, nevertheless remain highly impacted by various hormones, including:

Androgens These are the hormones that facilitate growth and reproduction and undoubtedly impact hair growth. (They stimulate chest and pubic hair growth during puberty.)

Estradiol, which converts androgen into estrogen, can also “significantly alter hair follicle growth,” according to the Journal. 

Progesterone, along other hormones, such as prolactin (produced by your pituitary gland), thyroid gland hormones (which also affect your metabolism), and melatonin (produced by your pineal gland), are also believed to affect various aspects of hair growth. 

“It is suspected that the cessation of ovarian estrogen production and complex interactions with other hormones, growth factors, and cytokines contribute to alterations in hair growth characteristics,” the study reads. “Moreover, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, which typically increase after menopause, may further exacerbate androgen secretion.”

All of which is to say Boom, hormone levels  are a big reason why hair loss during perimenopause happens. 

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Is there anything we can do to prevent perimenopausal hair loss or hair thinning?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a dermatologist can work with you to pin down the cause of your increased hair loss. The next step is to consider treatment options, such as:

  • Low light laser combs, helmets, and caps.

  • Nutritional supplements, such as certain vitamins or biotin, which is known to encourage healthy hair growth.

  • Minoxidil, a topical solution available in drugstores, comes in 2% or 5% solutions, and is shown to help hair growth. Don’t try it if you’re at any risk of getting pregnant. 

  • Prescription medications, such as Spironolactone and other anti-androgens, are sometimes prescribed to help with hair loss.

  • Finasteride is a prescription medication known to help with hair growth (not to be taken with risk of pregnancy).

  • Estrogens

  • Hair transplant surgery (in extreme cases only)

  • Scalp microneedling to encourage hair growth. (A few early studies, like this one, held promising results for women.)

While we might not be able to stop perimenopausal hair loss from happening altogether, we can do a few things to try and stimulate hair follicle growth and make the hair that’s there look thicker:

  • Easing up on tight buns and ponytails, and other chemical hair treatments.

  • Head massages can stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles (and they feel really good).

  • Use a brush with soft fibers that won’t pull at your scalp.

  • Stay away from curling or flat irons or blow dryers — high heat styling can cause hair damage and breakage.

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  • Use a volumizing shampoo.

  • Use hair thickening products, such as mousses, foams, and gels.

  • Avoid hair products that weigh hair down, like anything silicone or oil-based.

  • A layered haircut with movement that frames your face can make your hair look thicker.

Though perimenopausal hair loss isn’t the worst thing that can happen to us, it can be startling. Indeed, when it comes to saving our forelocks, forewarned is forearmed. 

If you're experiencing menopausal hair loss, contact our team at Alloy today. We're here to assist with any questions when it comes to hot flashes, hair health and available treatment options. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/treating-female-pattern-hair-loss

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432488/

  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16921-hair-loss-in-women

  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/finasteride-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20063819?p=1

  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31254437/

Written by:

Vivian Manning-Schaffel

Vivian Manning-Schaffel is a women’s health writer and editor. She is currently a contributing writer at Today.com, NBC Better and Shondaland.

Medically reviewed by:

Sharon D. Malone

Dr. Sharon Malone is among the nation’s leading obstetrician / gynecologists with a focus on the specific health challenges associated with menopause.