“Some women experience thinning of the hair on the scalp in midlife. For many, this is because of an interplay of genetics, hormone shifts and environmental factors”.1

Umbrella
What may the Menopause Hair Changes Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Chin Hair
  • Downy Hair
  • Facial Hair Growth/Increase
  • Hair Loss
  • Head Hair
  • Hirsutism
  • Thinning Hair
  • “Peach Fuzz”
  • “Rogue Hair”

Grey Hair

Is there an association between aging and gray hair?

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) note:


Menopause Hair Changes“Aging increases the likelihood that hair will become gray and more brittle”.2

Postmenopause

Is there an association between postmenopause and hair loss?

In Treating Female Pattern Hair Loss the (United States) Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health explain:

“About one-third of women experience hair loss (alopecia) at some time in their lives; among postmenopausal women, as many as two-thirds suffer hair thinning or bald spots”.3

Female Pattern Hair Loss

Is there an association between menopause and female pattern hair loss (FPHL)?

In Menopause FAQs: Your Health After Menopause – Q. Is there anything I can do to stop my hair from thinning? the NAMS explain:

“A. Some women experience thinning of the hair on the scalp in midlife. For many, this is because of an interplay of genetics, hormone shifts and environmental factors. Known as female pattern hair loss, the hair thins mainly on the crown of the head, starting with a widening through the center hair part”.4

In Menopausal Hair Loss: Why Does It Happen? the (British) Women’s Health Concern (WHC) elaborate on:

“FPHL is very common and increases with age and varies across ethnic groups. Although it can happen at any age, the condition occurs most commonly following the menopause. This does not mean that hormones alone are to blame, although oestrogen may have a protective role, helping to keep hair in the ‘growing phase’. Age itself is a factor and whilst women can take care of their hair cosmetically, it is one aspect of the ageing process we cannot always control”.5

In Treating Female Pattern Hair Loss Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health elaborate on:

“The main type of hair loss in women is the same as it is men. It’s called androgenetic alopecia, or female (or male) pattern hair loss. In men, hair loss usually begins above the temples, and the receding hairline eventually forms a characteristic “M” shape; hair at the top of the head also thins, often progressing to baldness. In women, androgenetic alopecia begins with gradual thinning at the part line, followed by increasing diffuse hair loss radiating from the top of the head. A woman’s hairline rarely recedes, and women rarely become bald”.6

Androgenetic Alopecia

What is androgenetic alopecia?

In Treating Female Pattern Hair Loss: What Is Androgenetic Alopecia? Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health explain:

“Almost every woman eventually develops some degree of female pattern hair loss. It can start any time after the onset of puberty, but women tend to first notice it around menopause, when hair loss typically increases. The risk rises with age, and it’s higher for women with a history of hair loss on either side of the family”.7

Other Causes

Apart from menopause, what may be other causes of hair loss?

The NAMS note:

“A. …Other causes of hair loss may include nutrition deficiencies (such as low iron intake), significant or prolonged stress, thyroid disease and other chronic illness, and certain medications or supplements. Women also may notice increased hair loss when stopping hormone contraceptives or estrogen therapy”.8 Menopause Hair Changes

Facial Hair

Is there an association between facial hair and menopause?

The NAMS note:

“Women often report large rogue hairs on their chins that seems to grow to a great length almost overnight, and other women notice the appearance of downy hairs (peach fuzz) on their faces”.9

Hirsutism

What is hirsutism?

DotS the definition of hirsutism may vary. In Hirsutism: Overview the (United States) Mayo Clinic’s definition is:

“Hirsutism (HUR-soot-iz-um) is a condition in women that results in excessive growth of dark or coarse hair in a male-like pattern — face, chest and back”.10

The NAMS also explain:

“…excessive hair growth (hirsutism) may occur in areas in which hair follicles are especially androgen sensitive, such as chin, upper lip, and cheeks. This condition is thought to be because of the shift in the balance between androgen and estrogen levels associated with declining estrogen at menopause”.11

Health Care Provider

What if I would like help with hair changes?

If you would like help with hair changes, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. Together you can clarify your hair changes, discuss your options and if required, agree on who may be the most appropriate health care provider to help you.

In Menopausal Hair Loss: When To Seek Help the WHC explain:

“You should consult your doctor if:

  • You are losing hair in an unusual pattern
  • You are losing hair rapidly or at an early age (for example, in your teens or twenties)
  • You have any pain or itching with the hair loss
  • The skin on your scalp under the involved area is red, scaly, or otherwise abnormal
  • You have acne, facial hair, or an abnormal menstrual cycle
  • You have additional symptoms which concern you”.12

In Menopause FAQs: Your Health After Menopause – Q. Is there anything I can do to stop my hair from thinning? the NAMS also explain:

“A. …Treatments depend on the cause of the hair loss and may include eating a healthy diet and adding a multivitamin to support hair regrowth. Topical minoxidil also can be beneficial for hair regrowth, although it may take at least 4 to 6 months to show improvement”.13

Health Topics A-Z

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

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Sources

  1. Menopause FAQs: Your Health After Menopause – Q. Is there anything I can do to stop my hair from thinning? North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-your-health-after-menopause Accessed: 27 September 2023
  2. North American Menopause Society. Menopause Guidebook: 5. Midlife Body Changes – Skin, Hair, and Oral Health: Hair. 8th Edition 2015:41
  3. Treating Female Pattern Hair Loss. 31 August 2020. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/treating-female-pattern-hair-loss Accessed: 27 September 2023
  4. Menopause FAQs: Your Health After Menopause – Q. Is there anything I can do to stop my hair from thinning? North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-your-health-after-menopause Accessed: 27 September 2023
  5. Menopausal Hair Loss: Why Does It Happen? Publication Date: August 2021. Women’s Health Concern https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/menopausal-hair-loss/ Accessed: 27 September 2023
  6. Treating Female Pattern Hair Loss. 31 August 2020. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/treating-female-pattern-hair-loss Accessed: 27 September 2023
  7. Treating Female Pattern Hair Loss: What Is Androgenetic Alopecia? 31 August 2020. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/treating-female-pattern-hair-loss Accessed: 27 September 2023
  8. Menopause FAQs: Your Health After Menopause – Q. Is there anything I can do to stop my hair from thinning? North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-your-health-after-menopause Accessed: 27 September 2023
  9. North American Menopause Society. Menopause Guidebook: 5. Midlife Body Changes – Skin, Hair, and Oral Health: Hair. 8th Edition 2015:41
  10. Hirsutism: Overview. 12 October 2021. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hirsutism/symptoms-causes/syc-20354935 Accessed: 27 September 2023
  11. North American Menopause Society. Menopause Guidebook: 5. Midlife Body Changes – Skin, Hair, and Oral Health: Hair. 8th Edition 2015:41
  12. Menopausal Hair Loss: When To Seek Help. Publication Date: August 2021. Women’s Health Concern https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/menopausal-hair-loss/ Accessed: 27 September 2023
  13. Menopause FAQs: Your Health After Menopause – Q. Is there anything I can do to stop my hair from thinning? North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-your-health-after-menopause Accessed: 27 September 2023
Topic Last Updated: 18 November 2023 – Topic Last Reviewed: 27 September 2023

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