As women age, many begin noticing changes that they can’t seem to explain. They may not automatically think (peri)menopause because we’ve been told to expect symptoms like hot flashes and irregular periods during this period. But the truth is that during perimenopause (the transitional period leading up to menopause), women can experience a wide range of symptoms. And it can be common for women to experience perimenopause hair changes. Shifts and changes in their hair’s appearance and texture.
This is largely due to the hormonal changes that happen as your body prepares to enter menopause. You might notice your hair thinning, or find that its quality and structure are different from what you’re used to. Understanding the causes behind these changes can help you find suitable treatments and adjustments for to help you deal with perimenopause hair changes.
During perimenopause, your hair can go through some changes, like slower growth, hair loss or hair appearing in new and unwanted places. Blame it on those hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, which can be a bit all over the place during this time. These changes can kick in as early as your late 30s or early 40s, and they’re different for everyone.
As for solutions… you’ve got options! Some are as simple as over-the-counter products and specialized hair care routines. Others might involve prescriptions to tackle the hormone imbalances. Whatever you choose, it’s not just about looks – it’s about feeling good during perimenopause. And remember, you’re not alone; lots of women are going through the same stuff, and there’s plenty of support out there to help you through this natural phase.”
Perimenopausal Hair Changes
Let’s look at how reduced estrogen and progesterone, along with increased androgens, can lead to these unexpected changes:
Hair Thinning and Hair Loss
As estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, and androgens like testosterone increase, you might experience your hair becoming thinner or see an increase in hair loss. This is because estrogen promotes hair growth and keeps hairs in their growth phase longer. While androgens have the opposite effect, shortening the hair growth cycle and leading to more shedding. Paying attention to the changes in your menstrual cycle can provide clues about the role your hormones are playing in these hair changes.
Change in Hair Texture
With perimenopause, your hair’s texture can alter, becoming drier or more brittle. This is partly due to decreased estrogen production by your reproductive system. Estrogen helps maintain moisture and strength in hair strands, so when its levels drop during the perimenopausal phase of your reproductive years, the texture of your hair may suffer.
Facial Hair Growth
Interestingly, some women notice an increase in facial hair growth around perimenopause. As estrogen levels decline, testosterone levels may remain constant or decline at a slower rate. This hormonal shift can result in an increase in facial hair growth, particularly thick coarse hair or “whiskers” around the chin and upper lip areas. It’s not uncommon for you to see a sprouting of dark, coarse hairs where they weren’t before.
Causes of Hair Changes During Perimenopause
Education is power, so let’s take a closer look at some of the causes of hair changes during perimenopause:
Hormones are integral to hair growth and quality. As you approach menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, leading to an increase in androgens, which can cause hair follicles to shrink, resulting in loss of hair or thinner hair.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is characterized by thinning hair, primarily on the top of the head. This could be more pronounced during perimenopause due to hormonal changes. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be discussed as a potential treatment option. But HRT is not without it’s risks. It’s important to discuss your medical history with your practitioner see if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Your hair’s health is tied to what you eat. Deficiencies in key nutrients like iron, which can lead to anemia, may affect your hair. It’s vital to maintain a healthy diet rich in nutrients to support hair health.
Lifestyle choices can inadvertently impact your hair. High stress and smoking can trigger hair loss. Luckily lifestyle tweaks like regular exercise and stress reduction can bolster overall health and, by extension, hair quality.
This temporary hair loss condition can occur after a significant stressor to the body, like surgery or chronic stress. A substantial portion of your hair can shift into the resting phase (telogen), leading to increased shedding and subsequent thinning.
The skin on your scalp can affect hair growth. Conditions such as dermatitis or psoriasis can lead to hair loss. It’s essential to address any underlying skin conditions to maintain a healthy environment for hair growth.
Effective Treatment Options for Perimenopause Hair Changes
As you navigate the changes of perimenopause, incorporating targeted treatments can help manage the effects on your hair. Carefully selected hair care products, nutritional tweaks, stress management strategies, medical interventions, and supplements all play a critical role in maintaining hair health during this transitional period.
Hair Care Products
Finding the right hair care products is essential. Look for shampoos and conditioners that are gentle and designed for thinning hair. Products containing minoxidil, like Rogaine, can be applied to the scalp to help stimulate hair growth. Additionally, using a high-quality moisturizer will keep both your hair and scalp hydrated, which is crucial during perimenopause.
Regular Hair Cuts
Getting a great haircut does more than just give you a fresh look – it actually improves the circulation in your scalp, which in turn boosts healthier hair growth. So, you can enjoy fuller, shinier locks that are less likely to break. Plus, with regular cuts and treatments, you can also minimize damage caused by things like heat styling and other factors that can harm your hair
Implementing nutritional changes in your diet can significantly affect hair health. Ensure you’re eating a healthy diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Iron and zinc are particularly important for hair strength and growth. Consider incorporating foods rich in biotin, such as nuts, eggs, and avocados, to support your hair.
Stress can exacerbate hair changes, so finding effective ways to manage stress is key. Regular exercise and relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation can have beneficial effects on your hair health by mitigating stress-related hair issues.
Consult with your doctor about medical treatments if you’re experiencing significant hair changes. They may prescribe medications or suggest procedures like laser treatment for more severe cases.
Lastly, dietary supplements can be helpful. Look for supplements containing collagen, which supports hair structure, or go for a comprehensive blend that includes vitamins and minerals vital for hair health, such as vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Zinc supplements also do wonders for your scalp (and consequently, your hair). It might take a few months to see the full benefits, but it can truly be a game-changer for you. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.
Facial hair solutions
If you’re dealing with increased facial hair and whiskers, you might want to try:
- Professional hair removal: Procedures such as laser hair removal or electrolysis can provide longer-term solutions for unwanted hair. It’s worth discussing with a dermatologist or a licensed hair removal specialist.
- Over-the-counter options: Tweezing, waxing, or using depilatory creams can offer temporary relief and are easy to do at home.
- Topical treatments: Look for creams designed to slow facial hair growth. Regular use can help manage the appearance of new hair.
- Hormonal treatments: Consult with your healthcare provider about the possibility of hormonal treatments that can balance androgens, particularly if the hair growth is accompanied by other symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
When to Consult a Healthcare Provider
Experiencing hair changes during the menopause transition can be confusing and stressful. If you’re noticing your hair texture or volume changing significantly, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor. Remember, you’re not alone in this; many women see variations in their hair at this time.
Here are instances where you should seek advice from a healthcare provider:
- Noticeable Thinning or Loss: If your hair loss is enough to cause alarm or make a visible difference in appearance.
- Changes in Hair Quality: Should your hair become brittler or weaker, leading to increased breakage.
- Scalp Health Issues: Any signs of irritation, redness, or flaking that accompany hair changes.
- Other Symptoms: Consider if hair changes co-occur with other menopause symptoms like mood swings or sleep disturbances.
During your visit, discuss:
- The patterns of hair change you’re experiencing.
- Any additional symptoms that might be related.
- Your overall quality of life – these changes can have an emotional impact, too.
Your doctor may suggest:
- Lifestyle Adjustments: Simple changes in diet, exercise, or hair care might be recommended.
- Blood Tests: To check for underlying conditions like thyroid issues.
- Hormone Therapy: If hormonal fluctuations are significant and affecting your wellbeing.
Remember: Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Every woman’s journey through perimenopause is unique, and you deserve to feel confident and informed about the changes happening in your body.