It’s no secret that menopause means you will be experiencing lots of bodily changes. But what you may not have been expecting is for menopause to cost you your hair! It is true though, that most women will experience hair loss during menopause. How much hair loss you experience and how long the loss lasts depends on a number of factors including genetic propensity, lifestyle, diet, and health. Even though it is by no means rare for a menopausal woman to suffer from alopecia, many doctors don’t seem to have a solution and can be unsympathetic. The condition is often overlooked as a normal part of the aging process. Sometimes, Rogaine is suggested; but while Rogaine has the potential to enhance existing hair it does not offer a real solution to the original and underlying cause of your hair loss. And it cannot prevent future thinning. Finding The Cause Alopecia can be caused by many conditions but most hair loss in women (and men) can be attributed to hormonal factors. It has become obvious that hair is very sensitive to large hormonal shifts. Think about getting on and off birth control, pregnancy, and yes, menopause. Changes in your body’s levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can and will likely affect hair growth. So much so that if a woman is experiencing a significant amount of hair loss, the first thing to consider is whether there has been any significant hormonal changes. This is why doctors will say that it is “normal” for women to have hair loss as they head into menopause. A better way to put it is that it is understandable that a menopausal woman experience hair loss. One great misconception about menopause is that the symptoms of menopause are always caused by an estrogen deficiency. The symptoms of perimenopause and menopause are caused by changes and fluctuations of hormones. When it comes to hormones, balance is key. Estrogen levels do fall as women head into menopause, but the hormone progesterone falls much more. Hormonal imbalance is the primary cause of what is known as male pattern baldness when it occurs in women. This pattern of hair loss can be seen in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, sometimes after pregnancy, and when heading into menopause. The problem is exacerbated when some women have a genetic predisposition to male pattern hair loss. If all this information has gotten you down a bit, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The good news is that most cases of male pattern hair loss do not result in complete baldness. There’s more good news; hormonal hair loss in women can be treated. Women who are able to balance their hormones can stop the hair loss and restore a full head of hair. Hormonal Imbalance & Estrogen Dominance Have you ever wondered why some women who are going through menopause still have a full head of hair while others are so thin on top? A lot of it has to do with lifestyle and how that lifestyle affects our hormones. We’ve already established that large fluctuations and imbalances in hormones can cause hair loss. With that, I’d like to introduce the term ‘estrogen dominance’. Estrogen dominance is the state where the level of estrogen in the body outweighs the level of progesterone in the body. In the west, it is estimated that half the women over 35 are estrogen dominant. Progesterone is estrogen’s antagonist. Estrogen, for example will stimulate cysts in the breast and progesterone protects against cysts in the breasts. Estrogen will cause you to retain salt and water and progesterone acts as a diuretic. Breast and endometrial cancers are thought to be estrogen-dependent while progesterone protects against those types of cancers. Estrogen is not all bad, but progesterone needs to be available to work synchronously with estrogen. Both are necessary for the proper and normal functioning of the female body. It is not simply the estrogen deficiency that causes many of the health problems prevalent in women; it is the dominance of estrogen compared with the amount of available progesterone. Estrogen declines gradually as we age, but there is a dramatic difference in the rate of decline of estrogen as compared with progesterone. From the ages of 35 to 50, there is a 75 percent reduction in the amount of progesterone produced by the body, while estrogen declines only 35 percent during this same time period. When women finally reach menopause, the amount of progesterone in the body is severely low, compared to the amount of estrogen (which, is still present at about one half of premenopausal levels). The world’s authority on natural hormone replacement therapy, Dr. John Lee, stated that in order for women to have optimum health, the ratio of progesterone to estrogen should be about 250 to 1. Besides menopause there are a lot of ways women can become estrogen dominant. Anytime a woman is prescribed estrogen without progesterone, she can become estrogen dominant. Many hormone replacement programs put women on estrogens such as Premarin. Despite many years of research that shows that women receiving unopposed estrogen from a hormone replacement therapy program can increase a woman’s risk of breast and endometrial cancers. Other sources of extra estrogen include:
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