Hair Loss In Women
One in Four Women Will Suffer Hair Loss At Some Point In Their Lives
This well known statistic is quoted in many a reference to womens hair loss. In reality, this statistic is probably underestimated. Think about how many women have had children. Is there any woman who has never had extreme stress or emotional stress? What about a bad dose of the flu or other illness. Temperature is part of virus and will cause heavy hair shedding a couple of months later. Surgery? Heavy periods, menopause? I wonder where this stat came from? The quote really should read “The Majority Of Women Will Suffer Hair Loss At Some Point In their Lives”
Chronic Telogen Effluvium – Long Term Diffuse Hair Shedding
Chronic Telogen Effluvium, is the most common form of hair loss in women, particularly young and middle age women. CTE is an increase in hair loss and decrease in hair thickness over a long period of time. You may have always seen excessive hair in the brush or shower and thought it was normal. It’s only when you see your scalp is visible you ask yourself ‘why is my hair falling out?’ But in reality it would have been thinning long before you noticed.
Chronic hair loss affects approximately 30% of pre-menopausal women. So if you think your hair is thinning, you’re not alone! Stopping female hair loss and regaining hair thickness, depends on establishing the true cause and treating it.
What Causes Chronic Telogen Effluvium?
Often combinations of problems contribute to female hair loss. Women are increasingly under greater stress: high-pressure jobs, juggling work and family life thus leaving less time to consider their own health and well-being. Stress ‘burns off’ vital nutrients such as B vitamins which are vital for good hair quality and growth.
Low Iron (Ferritin) and Female Hair Loss
One of the most common causes of hair loss in women, without doubt, is low Iron stores. A large majority of the women who consult a Trichologist have below optimum Iron stores for good hair growth. A study conducted on 1000 women revealed 33% suffered female hair loss, 90% caused by low Iron stores and 10% caused by Genetic (female pattern baldness) or other factors.
Low B12 and Hair Loss
Low B12 – another cause of hair loss in women which is frequently missed by GP’s. It’s not a routine blood test and even when a person is borderline they will rarely be treated. The minimum level for B12 is around 180 ng/l however most healthy people have a level of around 500ng/l. Some counties have dropped the minimum B12 level to 136ug/l since covid. As a sufferer of Pernitious Anemia myself, I wonder just how people would manage to function at this level before being allowed medical treatment.
B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Symptoms of low B12 often occur when blood levels drop below 300 ng/l and include hair loss, breathlessness, lack of energy palpitations, bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, tingling in the hands and feet. Do you find that as soon as you stop and sit down in the evening you fall asleep or fail to manage too see the end of a film for the same reason. I would highly recommend checking your B12 level (active and total stores) if the answer is yes.
There are two main types of B12 deficiency:
- Lack of dietary B12 / Absorption – usually vegetarians and vegans. Animal produce rather than plants are rich in vitamin B12. Solution – increase dietary B12 or/and take a B12 supplement. Certain medication used for type 2 diabetes / insulin sensitivity and for people who take Proton Pump Inhibitors may also suffer low B12.
- Autoimmune – Antibodies destroy intrinsic factor or the Parietal cells which produce B12. B12 is bound to Intrinsic factor so that it passes into the blood stream. Your GP can take blood tests for intrinsic factor antibodies or Parietal cell antibodies to determine if your problem is dietary or autoimmune. If your problem is autoimmune your GP should do further investigation to try to determine why it has developed. Treatment – lifelong B12 injections as tablets are relatively ineffective.
An experienced Trichologist can help you to get to the root of your problem and recommend the best course of action. Hair loss in Women is the most common problem we see at Cotswold Trichology.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
Hair loss in women or female pattern hair loss and is frequently diagnosed by Dermatologists, Doctors and Trichologists. I see women of all ages misdiagnosed with female pattern hair loss, (some as young as 20). Many have none of the associated female pattern baldness symptoms. Most female hair thinning including female pattern hair loss primarily affects the vertices (top of the scalp), which is why the diagnosis can be the subject of confusion. If your hair has thinned all over your scalp, including the sides and back, it is unlikely that your problem is purely Androgenic Alopecia or you may also be suffering from a secondary condition.
Women, like men can inherit baldness from their parents, this determines the distribution of the hair follicles affected. If you think “My mother and grandmother had thin hair – I am doomed!” You must also consider if your mother and grandmother had other health issues or took medicationst that may cause hair thinning, rather than residing yourself to only female pattern baldness.
What Causes Female Pattern Baldness?
Androgenetic Alopecia in women is due to an increase in androgens, following a decrease in female hormones during or following the menopause. This is in combination with a predisposed sensitivity of the hair follicle to androgens. Some women suffer androgenic alopecia before the menopause due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Androgenetic alopecia in women does not normally result in extensive baldness as with men, but the hair density can become quite poor.
The associated symptoms of androgenic / androgenetic alopecia in women help determine the diagnosis. In younger women diagnosed with female pattern hair loss one would expect to see some of the symptoms below:
- Excess facial hair growth.
- Excess body hair growth.
- Oily skin / hair.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Tests for PCOS can aid the differential diagnosis. It is also possible to have female pattern baldness and Chronic Telogen Effluvium at the same time.
Suffering from Hair Loss?
In female hair loss, the Savin Scale measures overall thinning and hair density. Compare your own hair to the charts to determine which stage of hair thinning you are closest to. If you think you are suffering from Female Hair Loss Contact the Cotswold Trichology Centre to arrange a consultation with our expert Trichologist Sally-Ann Tarver. Or call the clinic today on 01386 421703 for an appointment.