What’s going on with all these hair changes? My locks are not what they used to be, and judging by comments from other women of a similar age, I’m not the only one who is having a bad hair day, or more precisely LIFE! Not that my hair was ever quite like the image above!
At a research group I attended last week, with other menopausal ladies, the subject of hair changes came up. It hadn’t occurred to me that this is a real issue for a lot of women. Lucy and I had both discussed how our hair seemed to be thinning (or coming out at a rate of knots to be more precise) but we hadn’t looked into it in any great detail. Hearing that hair changes is something which effects many of us, I thought I would do a bit of research and find out what causes the hair changes during menopause and what can be done to improve them. Let’s be honest we’ve all had days like Monica from Friends…
We set up LBA because we felt it was important for women, of a certain age, to feel fabulous and get the most out of life. Having a bad hair day, every day, can have a negative impact on confidence and self esteem, so we hope the following information can help you get your luscious locks back!
Let’s Start With Why Hair Changes
I’m definitely not a hair expert, so thought it best to go to someone who is! The following information is from Philip Kingsley’s website. Philip Kingsley qualified as a Trichologist in 1953 and has been past Chairman of the Institute of Trichologists and has now attained the highest honour as a Fellow Member (he knows what he’s talking about). Throughout his career Philip has provided solutions to the most extreme hair and scalp problems, through to those who just want the best from their hair.
Menopause almost always affects the hair on your scalp. Symptoms of menopause can also include dullness, dryness and thinning of your skin, hot flashes, mood changes, decreased sexual desire and increased facial hair.
Fifty is the average age for menopause, but changes to your hair can begin long before, and is one reason why hair thinning during menopause is difficult to counteract. Nobody over 40 has the same volume of hair they had in their twenties, but menopause is an extra and accelerating cause.
Most commonly, you may notice a reduction in the thickness (volume) of each strand. This is not immediate, but gradual. There may also be recession at your frontal hairline and temples, or you might have increased hair fall.
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause are often the most distressing. From a psychological viewpoint, it is very common for a woman to scrutinize herself in the mirror more closely, and particular attention might be paid to hair. Hair has deep psychological and sexual meaning.
Both menopause and loss of hair are often associated with loss of femininity and sexuality. These thoughts and changes can all feed into each other, and it becomes a vicious and demoralizing cycle. Rest assured, though, it is very rare for a woman to go bald. And things can be done to get the best out of your hair during this stressful time.
Oestrogens and your Hair During Menopause
The basis for changes during menopause is a decrease in oestrogen. Oestrogens effect your menstrual cycle, sexual arousal, appetite, mood swings and skin, and also the growth cycle of your hair. During menopause, you may find your hair won’t grow as long.
This is because oestrogens keep your hair in the growing phase, and the longer the growing phase, the longer your hair can grow. Reduced oestrogen levels cause your hair’s growth cycle to shorten and your hair sheds before it reaches the length that it used to be able to.
Androgens (male hormones) and your Hair During Menopause
Androgens are male hormones. They are found in women as well as men, but to a lesser degree. Menopause causes androgen levels to increase, which can in turn trigger thinning of the hair on your scalp and can also cause extra facial and body hair. Androgens do not necessarily decrease your number of scalp hairs, but reduce their diameter and length. The result is a loss of volume or ‘body’. Your hair may not be falling out more, or failing to grow back – but the replacement hairs are weaker and finer.
Hopefully that gives you an insight as to why hair changes during the menopause. Now you know let’s move on to what we all really want to know…
What Can Be Done About It?
As mentioned above, hair loss for menopausal women is a direct result of fluctuating hormone levels, namely oestrogen and testosterone, to reverse the symptom it is best to address the problem at the hormonal source.
Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an option, many agree that the most effective approach is to combine a few changes in lifestyle with alternative treatment options. The following information, from 34 Menopause Symptoms outlines the three key approaches to treat hair loss and get your back in good condition.
Three Approaches to Treat Hair Loss
Three levels of approaches can be considered for treating menopause symptoms. These are categorized as: (1) Lifestyle Changes, (2) Alternative Medicine, and (3) Medications.
It is recommended to begin with the least risky option, lifestyle changes, before progressing to the next stage of treatment. Drugs and surgery should be used only in extreme cases and always under the guidance of your GP or Health practitioner.
1. Lifestyle Changes that Promote Hair Growth
Here we go again, there is a recurring theme around how best to help yourself during the menopause and the first two sections below tie in with many other articles we have written. The impact your lifestyle has on your well-being is huge but the same changes appear as solutions to numerous menopause symptoms…
This primary level of treatment involves the least amount of risk, though conversely it requires the highest amount of self discipline. Many times some simple changes in lifestyle can reap huge benefits in fighting hair loss and achieving a higher overall level of health.
Of particular importance in the battle against hair loss is a balanced diet. Deficiencies in B or C vitamins, not enough iron or protein, or an extreme diet of any kind can cause hair to fall out.
Cutting out caffeine and alcohol, exercising regularly, and practicingstress reduction techniques such as yoga or meditation can also help promote regenerative hair growth. Taking care to not pull or twist hair in destructive ways and avoiding other physical traumas such as harsh processing techniques or an excess of heat in styling will also help to protect hair.
Making these lifestyle changes is easier said than done, especially if one is accustomed to a certain routine. In addition, while these changes will help alleviate many symptoms, they do not address the problem directly at the hormonal source, so further treatment may be necessary.
Alternative medicine has proven to be excellent for treating hair loss in a safe and natural way.
Foods that Promote Hair Growth
Protein. Liver, brewer’s yeast, fish, eggs, beans, cottage cheese, yogurt, and tofu.
Iron. Liver, whole grain cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, dates, and raisins.
B vitamins. Eggs, meat, and poultry.
Essential fatty acids. Walnuts, canola oil, fish, and soy.
Vitamin E. Avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
Sulfur. Meats, fish, nuts, legumes, and vegetables (especially onions).
2. Alternative Remedies for Hair Loss
Alternative approaches involve little to no risk and can be an extremely effective way to treat hair loss. This level of approach includes several different therapies. Herbal remedies are the most prominent, though in addition women may turn to such techniques as acupuncture or scalp massage in order to help stimulate hair follicles and regenerate hair growth. All of these can be valid and effective options, though most women find that herbal remedies are the easiest alternative treatment to follow, as the others require a greater time and monetary commitment. In addition, herbal remedies are the only viable option to treat the hormonal imbalance directly at its source.
In the case of herbal remedies, there are two types of herbs that can be used for treating hair loss: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating herbal supplements.
Phytoestrogenic herbs (e.g. black cohosh) contain oestrogenic components produced by plants. These herbs, at first, do treat the hormonal imbalance by introducing these plant-based 0estrogens into the body. However, as a result of adding outside hormones, a woman’s body may become less capable of producing oestrogen on its own. This causes a further decrease of the body’s own hormone levels.
By contrast, hormone-regulating herbs, as the name suggests, don’t contain any oestrogen. These herbs stimulate a woman’s hormone production by nourishing the endocrine glands, causing them to more efficiently produce natural hormones. This ultimately results in balancing not only oestrogen, but also testosterone. Hormone-regulating herbal supplements (such as Maca) can be considered the safest way to treat hair loss naturally as the body creates its own hormones and doesn’t require any outside assistance. You can get Maca supplements in tablet form or use the powder, which can be sprinkled on cereal or other foods or put in smoothies and juices. For tablets click this link for FOREVER MULTI-MACA or this one for NEALS YARD MACA POWDER, which you can also add the powder to cakes and desserts!
A combination of approaches is usually the most effective route to take. Lifestyle changes combined with alternative approaches will most likely be the best way to alleviate hair loss. However, for some women the symptoms will be so severe that a more drastic treatment is necessary.
Interventions at the third level involve the highest risk and often the highest costs. The most common drug therapy for treating menopause symptoms is HRT. Although a quick and strong way to combat hormonal imbalance, it can entail side effects and has been linked to increased risk of certain types of cancer. If your symptoms are severe consult your GP or health practitioner
Hair transplant surgeries, scalp lifts, or laser therapy are other options for serious cosmetic changes, but they entail a great deal of time, money, and are not without side effects, as is the case with any sort of surgical procedure.
These three levels of approaches are not mutually exclusive. A woman may use different approaches at different times or any combination of them, depending on the duration and severity of symptoms. Today more and more women find that dealing with menopause symptoms is best accomplished via a combination of healthy lifestyle and alternative treatments.
There are a couple of supplements/treatments not covered above, which have definitely helped improve the condition of my hair and reverse some of my own hair changes I was experiencing, I thought I’d share them with you:-
Aloe Vera Drinking Gel, I started drinking a shot of this every day about 6 months ago and saw an instant improvement in the condition of my hair and a decrease in the amount falling out. I stupidly stopped taking it for a couple of months and it wasn’t long before my hair became dry/frizzy and started falling out again. Needless to say I am glugging it again daily! It also seems to really strengthen my nails and give me energy. Click on the link at the beginning to find out more.
Nurture Replenish Intensive Hair Repair Therapy – I read an article a while back which said once you hit your 40’s you should be giving your hair a deep conditioning treatment once a week. As the Nurture Replenish range is specifically tailored to women during and after the menopause, I decided to use their intensive hair treatment and absolutely love it. If you want to give it a try click on this link and you will receive £5.00 off your first order Nurture Replenish.
Get a Good Cut! To prevent your hair looking limp, lifeless and dried out, it is definitely worth investing in a good cut every 6 to 8 weeks. It might even be time to try a new style and rethink your colour too! I’m currently growing out layers, which have made my hair wispy, which when it’s thinning anyway really doesn’t help, then I’m going for the chop, which will be the first time I’ve done anything drastic since my late 20’s!!
Silk Pillow Case – I know it sounds extravagant but we’re worth it! Not only will resting your head on a silk pillow case prevent damage to your hair, it will also do wonders for your face, as it reduces lines caused by pressing your skin on a cotton pillow case. I always try to not press my face on the pillow but inevitably end up face down by the morning and wake up with deep lines around my eyes, gorgeous!
Hair care specialists recommend the use of silk pillowcases as sleeping on silk can help prevent thinning of the hair. Cotton may feel soft to the skin but its weave actually grips and tugs at individual strands, causing damage and breakage. The effects of continuous contact with cotton pillowcases can tangle hair. Silk can also prevent knotted hair and split ends, it stimulates hydration, giving shinier hair and reduces sebum production which in turn decreases the chance of having greasy hair. Let’s be honest, We’ve all woken up with bed head, who’d have thought what you rest your head on has something to do with the hair changes you’re experiencing!
Unlike cotton (which is an absorbent fiber and draws moisture), silk will not absorb natural moisture from your face and hair, or facial beauty creams while you sleep. It therefore allows for more efficient use of night creams, providing better skin hydration with clearer skin and reduced facial lines as a result. Sounds good to me and Joan Collins swears by them, so I’m in!
A quick tip not all silks are created equal. For one, it’s essential that the pillow case be 100% silk, because apparently man made is a no-go. Another thing to look for is a long strand mulberry silk with a traditional charmeuse weave (you’ll probably need to write that down) as it’s the smoothest, and to be perfectly honest, fanciest. However it’s expensive, so you may want to look to other options in the lower range.
I haven’t invested in one yet, but once I’ve posted this I’m off to search on Google, no time like the present to remedy my own hair changes!