Hair loss in women: just a cosmetic concern?

August 20, 2021

We usually hear about men going bald. But hair loss doesn’t only affect men – it happens to women as well.

Hair loss in women could be due to:

  • female pattern balding/hair loss
  • hair loss from underlying medical conditions
  • hair loss from medical treatments

Let’s take a closer look at women’s hair loss.

Hair loss in women

Hair loss in women

Female-pattern balding is the most common type of hair loss in women. Almost half of all women will experience it to some degree. It often becomes more noticeable after menopause.

What is female-pattern balding?

Like male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) it’s a term for hair loss and thinning in women. It’s usually genetically inherited from either (or both) parents.

Unlike men, though, hair loss and thinning follow a different pattern. You may notice:

  • thinning of hair all over the scalp
  • shrinking hair ponytail
  • widening of your part at the scalp
  • thinning at the frontal hairline or temples
  • increase in hair shedding

Some women will shed hair in bursts — losing more hair for a few months — and then shedding less for a longer period in between.

Causes of hair loss in women: medical conditions

Some hair loss in women could be caused by an underlying medical problem.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition where the ovaries produce abnormally high levels of male hormones. It is these hormones that can lead to hair loss.

Your doctor might recommend a test to check your hormones if you have:

  • acne
  • irregular periods 
  • a lot of body hair

Hair loss due to medical treatment

Certain medicines can cause hair loss or hair thinning. These include:

  • acne medicines containing vitamin A (retinoids)
  • antibiotics and antifungal medicines
  • anti-clotting medicines
  • antidepressants
  • contraceptive pills
  • cholesterol-lowering medicines
  • chemotherapy
  • drugs that suppress the immune system

Types of hair loss treatment for women

There is no cure for female-pattern baldness. Some treatments slow down or halt hair loss. Some products could help stimulate regrowth.

The main medicine used to treat female-pattern baldness is minoxidil — prescribed as a lotion to rub into the scalp or as a tablet to take.

If your hair loss is hormone-related, a doctor may prescribe a hormone blocker. This may help slow hair loss.

Other ways to manage or treat hair loss include:

  • wigs
  • ‘spray-on hair’ products 
  • hair transplants 
  • plastic surgery procedures (scalp reduction)
Hair loss in women

Be wary of claims in advertising, social media, or emails that promise ‘amazing hair regrowth’. There’s still not enough evidence to support using laser, plasma injections, hair tonics or nutritional supplements.

InstantScripts GPs can help you navigate hair loss. It’s quick and easy to book a telehealth consult or request a script.

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