Hair loss is common in both men and women; 35 million American women deal with hair loss every year. It can be both scary, and frustrating to deal with hair loss. Not to mention the emotional stress of dealing with hair loss may cause a perpetual hair loss cycle.
(Oh great, another cycle to worry about. )
The causes of all-over hair thinning, sudden bald patches, and receding hairlines are vast. But when it comes to female hair loss a lot of it has to do with a combination of your genetics and hormones.
Let’s get into 5 possible causes of female hair loss.
#1 Pregnancy and childbirth
Giving the gift of life might cause some temporary hair loss. Postpartum, your hormone levels take a steep nose dive back into baseline territory. Because of this, your hair cycle can be disrupted.
During pregnancy, increased estrogen can cause a boost in healthy hair growth. But immediately following that postpartum hormone dip, those newly active follicles may go into resting mode.
A few weeks to months later, those resting follicles will begin their “shedding” phase which can cause a sudden and excessive shedding.
So, instead of shedding the normal 150 hairs a day, a newly postpartum mama might shed 300-400 hairs a day.
The good news is that this will likely fix itself and most women’s hair cycle goes back to normal within 1 year of giving birth.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders found in women. PCOS can cause infertility, difficulty conceiving, high levels of androgens, acne, thinning hair, facial hair, female pattern baldness, and weight gain.
The cause of PCOS-related hair loss is likely due to high levels of androgenic hormones like testosterone.
This is often treated with antiandrogenic medications, oral contraceptives, and topical hair loss solutions like Minoxidil.
#3 Thyroid conditions and autoimmunity
Thyroid conditions are very common. Roughly 20 million Americas deal with a thyroid condition and 60% of those have no idea they have the condition. (Women are disproportionately affected by thyroid disease.)
Untreated thyroid dysfunction can cause hair thinning and hair loss among many other symptoms.
If you have a history of thyroid conditions in your family, you’re at a higher risk for thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid conditions are treatable and once optimal levels are established, your hair loss should stop.
#4 Hereditary Conditions
The most common hereditary cause of hair loss is Androgenic Alopecia. The male hormone (also seen in women) called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is said to be the cause.
In women, this condition is called “female pattern baldness”.
Women with Androgenic Alopecia lose their hair in a different way than men do. Women lose their hair in an all-over “diffused” pattern, causing an appearance of very thin hair.
With DHT-sensitive hair follicles, over time DHT can miniaturize the hair follicle, causing permanent hair loss. It’s best to treat this condition early to avoid damaging the hair follicles.
#5 Stress: either a traumatic event or chronic emotional or physical stress
Stress can be a trigger for hair loss. It’s common that a traumatic event might cause a “stutter” in the hair cycle causing excess shedding/thinning months after a traumatic event.
High levels of chronic emotional stress may also cause general hair loss or hair thinning.
Stress-related hair loss may also be caused by stress from extreme dieting and restrictive eating habits. Restrictive eating may additionally cause vitamin deficiencies which can lead to hair loss. Undereating, restricting, or cutting out major macronutrients is an example of chronic physical stress.
Hair loss in women is common and physiologically distressing, but it’s treatable. If you’re experiencing excessive shedding and are worried that you might have a condition stated above — reach out to your doctor. When it comes to hair loss, it’s better to treat it sooner rather than later.