Are You Asking Yourself, “Why Is My Hair So Thin During Perimenopause?” We’ve Got Answers!
Nothing undermines your confidence like seeing hair in the shower drain or breaking off when you shampoo in the morning. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, people generally lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, but if you’re constantly asking yourself, “Why is my hair so thin?” there may be underlying causes to consider.
The Physical Transition to Menopause May Be the Culprit
Most women are familiar with menopause as a concept, but unless your physician has discussed symptoms of perimenopause – the period of time when the body’s natural reproductive abilities begin to cease – you’re likely unaware of the connection between bodily changes, your hormones, and hair loss.
For starters, estrogen levels begin to drop around menopause, so does ovulation and fertility, and a variety of new symptoms come into play.
- Menstrual periods can last longer or occur closer together than in previous years, or they can be shorter with intermittent missed periods while you’re actively in perimenopause. Many women experience erratic menstrual cycles and hot flashes off and on through their 40s and even earlier but dismiss them as anomalies.
- Changes in mood and libido are common, even for women who’ve had a satisfying intimate history. Sometimes vaginal dryness is to blame as the body’s natural lubrication mechanisms change when estrogen drops. In addition, intercourse can be uncomfortable as the vaginal walls become less elastic.
- Difficulty sleeping is often caused by night sweats and hot flashes, which many women tend to dismiss in the early years.
- Bladder problems, like incontinence, and increasingly prevalent urinary tract infections are also caused by decreased estrogen.
- Hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy and again around menopause often cause healthy hair to begin falling out. Many women experience thinning and breakage during perimenopause but dismiss it because they’re unaware that their body’s estrogen and progesterone levels are dropping unless other menopausal symptoms arise. As these key hormones dip, androgen production increases. And those same hormones that spurred hair growth in the pubic region during puberty cause hair follicles to shrink and increased hair loss to occur during perimenopause.
How the Stress of Perimenopause Causes Hair Loss
Look up almost any medical condition, and you’ll see stress listed among its contributors. Weight gain, weight loss, insomnia, and a host of other menopausal conditions trigger stress, and the scalp often responds by telling hair to enter the shedding cycle, known as the telogenic phase. When this happens, the follicles go to sleep, sometimes for months, in the final part of the “growth, regression, and rest” cycle. Telling you not to stress is useless, because, after all, you’re human. But try to incorporate some stress-busting activities into your day, like walking, meditating, or doing yoga. Anything you enjoy doing that quiets your mind temporarily can make a big difference.
The Menopause – Vitamin Deficiency Connection
Remember earlier when we mentioned that menstrual cycle changes were an inevitable part of menopause? If you suffer from heavier or more frequent periods during this transitional time, you may have a B12 deficiency or low iron levels as well, and both can lead to an increased likelihood of hair loss. Foods rich in B12 also tend to be high in protein and fat, so many women avoid them as a way to stave off menopausal weight gain, but doing so increases the risk of hair loss. Eating a nutritious diet rich in B12 and iron keeps both the body and the hair healthy, so eat a varied diet that includes meat, fish, dark green leafy vegetables, peas and dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots as well as milk products and eggs. Salmon is a good source of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which can keep your hair healthier in the long run. The oil also prevents hair from breaking, and incorporating avocados, which are filled with vitamin E, “may improve the quality of your strands.”
Hair Loss, Particularly Alopecia, Increases Around Menopause
If you’ve heard of male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia (AGA), you may be surprised to learn that women experience something similar, especially “around menopause, when hair loss typically increases.” Thinning usually begins at the forehead and causes the hairline to recede and the part to widen. As the hair begins breaking and thinning on top, it makes the scalp more visible. Varying your hairstyle or wearing a wig can disguise the problem, but if you are experiencing that you might wat to plan visiting your physician to see if you’re a good candidate for topical or oral medications that awaken sleeping follicles and stimulate new hair growth.
Dealing With Hair Loss Related to Perimenopause
If the symptoms above suggest that your hair loss may be related to perimenopause, don’t panic. You have options. Switching to a boar bristle hairbrush may prevent additional hair damage, especially for fine, thinning hair. Many hair growth supplements and scalp treatments offer promising benefits, but it does take a few months to see results, so patience really is a necessity. In a recent study, Nutrafol, a “nutraceutical supplement with bio-optimized phytoactive ingredients [demonstrated the ability] to safely and effectively improve hair growth and quality in perimenopausal, menopausal, and postmenopausal women with thinning hair.” Adding a scalp care product to your routine also has advantages. A properly formulated clarifying shampoo containin peppermint oil (PEO) can also help facilitate hair growth.” And detoxifying scrubs improve the quality of the scalp, exfoliate dead skin cells, and stimulate follicles to aid in healthy hair growth.