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Dealing with Female Hair Loss

Posted Jan 18 2010 11:30am

female-hair-loss.jpgFemale hair loss is one of those things that simply never occurred to me.  Call it ignorance, but blessed as I am with a full head of hair (too much hair!  Hair that seizes any opportunity to dread itself underneath!), I didn’t realize what a big issue it truly is for many women–30 million American women have hereditary hair loss–until recently.

My ignorance, however, partially stems from the fact that it’s a below-the-radar issue–a woman’s hair is synonymous with her sexuality, and so losing it seems to lead to silent suffering.  After all, neither men or women relish the idea of losing their hair…but at least men can shave it all off and rock the chrome-dome, if they so choose.

One of my friends is currently exploring hair restoration options and now I’m noticing treatments and articles everywhere.  The New York Times just ran a piece called “When Hair Loss Strikes, a Doctor is a Girl’s Best Friend,” listing easy options like potions, tonics and vitamins, through more invasive but permanent procedures like hair transplantation. 

Here’s what I learned: Americans apparently spent $176 million on hair loss products last year (although I wonder how much of that number could be split between women and men).

Some reasons for hair loss?  Stress, antidepressants, changes in diet, an over- or under-active thyroid, iron-deficiency, and medications with testosterone can all be culprits.

Meanwhile, here are treatment options: Rogaine (about $25 for a 3-month supply, and will take up to a year to see results), Propecia (requires a prescription), laser combs (using light to stimulate the hair follicle), and hair transplants (natural-looking, but costing $8000 and up).  Whatever route you take, you’ll first want to see a doctor, who will run tests to determine if your hair loss is hereditary androgenetic alopecia or caused by something transient (i.e., stress from a death in the family; a particular medication you might have recently started).

When Hair Loss Strikes, a Doctor is a Girl’s Best Friend (New York Times)

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