When you hear “hair loss,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Many people, including the media, often associate hair loss with men and the image of baldness. What many people don’t realize is that hair loss comes in many different forms and isn’t exclusive to one gender.
For years, hair loss was wrongly thought to be a disease that only affected men. Today we know that many women, as many as 40 percent in fact, also experience it, yet it is rarely discussed.
As with many conditions, there are both similarities and differences when it comes to male and female hair loss.
Female hair loss:
- Age: Can begin as early as 20s and 30s, but most common for women around age 45 – 55. 50% of women experience hair loss by age 50.
- Signs of female hair loss: Thinning of hair in the middle area of the scalp or a slow widening of the part.
- Common causes of female hair loss: Androgenetic alopecia, telogen effluvium, hormone changes after menopause, stress, nutrition.
- Emotional impact: More difficult for women as hair loss is tied to femininity and beauty. Women can feel less attractive with hair loss.
- How many women suffer?: 30 million women experience hair loss, making up 40% of hair loss sufferers in the United States.
- Treatment and solutions: Minoxidil, hormone replacement therapy, nutrition, NeoGraft.
Male hair loss:
- Age: May start as early as their teens, but more aggressive hair loss happens in their 40s and 50s.Two-thirds of American men experience hair loss by age 35.
- Signs of male hair loss: Starts with a receding hairline and thinning of hair around the crown.
- Common causes of male hair loss: Androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium, stress, nutrition.
- Emotional impact: In some senses, it’s more socially acceptable for a man to have hair loss or be bald. However, men can also feel shame though as hair is tied to masculinity and strength.
- How many men suffer?: 50 million men experience hair loss.
- Treatment and solutions: Minoxidil, Propecia, nutrition, NeoGraft.
Now that we’ve taken an initial look at the some of the main similarities and differences between female and male hair loss, let’s further explore each experience.
What causes hair loss?
For both men and women, androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium (TE) are the most common causes of hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness, is caused by genetics. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a hormone found in men and women that is involved in this type of hair loss and shortens the lifespan of each hair follicle. As men and women age, they produce more DHT, causing hair loss or thinning.
The other cause of hair loss, telogen effluvium (TE), occurs when more hair than usual is in the dying or shedding phase of the hair cycle. While this type of hair loss is typically more temporary for both sexes, it can be brought on by reasons including pregnancy, severe illness, extreme stress, thyroid disorders, certain medications, and diet and hormonal changes.
With both sexes, hair loss due to TE is more sudden while androgenetic alopecia causes hair to thin more slowly.
The emotional side of hair loss.
Whether you are male or female, hair loss can have strong emotional and psychological effects. It’s common for men and women to have low self-esteem and feelings of depression and anxiety when they’re experiencing hair loss.
Hair loss may be more difficult for women to deal with as hair is often tied to femininity and beauty. When women lose their hair, they may not see themselves as attractive or appealing anymore.
In some senses, it’s more socially acceptable for a man to have hair loss or be bald. We see successful and handsome men in media, but when was the last time a balding female celebrity was celebrated? With so much value in women’s hair, it’s understandable why female hair loss can have such a big emotional impact.
Even though male hair can seem more widely accepted, it doesn’t mean men don’t experience the emotional side of hair loss too.
Similar to women, hair holds a sense of masculinity and strength for men. When hair begins thinning or a bald spot appears, they can feel unattractive too.
How can I treat female and male hair loss?
Whether you’re male or female, there’s plenty you can do to treat hair loss and grow back a fuller head of hair.
Minoxidil: This topical treatment is the active ingredient in over-the-counter hair loss products. It increases blood flow to the scalp to help reinvigorate hair follicles and regrow thicker-looking hair over time.
The downside? You need to be in it for the long haul. If you stop using minoxidil, any hair growth you’ve gained will be reversed because minoxidil doesn’t stop your body from producing DHT. It just counteracts it topically.
Propecia (finasteride): This oral medication is available by prescription and blocks the body’s production of DHT to prevent the loss of more hair. This drug isn’t recommended for women and even handling the pills is considered unsafe because it can cause birth defects.
Some physicians may prescribe Propecia for women with thinning hair who are past childbearing age, but it has not been proven to help regrow hair in women. In some studies, Propecia has been connected to certain types of prostate cancer so users need to be monitored by a doctor to make sure continued use is safe.
Hormone replacement therapy: For women experiencing hair loss due to menopause, estrogen and progesterone creams and pills may help treat androgenetic alopecia, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
NeoGraft: There are non-pharmaceutical options available, too. NeoGraft is one minimally invasive procedure for hair restoration. Schedule a consultation with one of our local Certified NeoGraft Physicians today to determine the cause of your hair loss and to get professional advice on your hair replacement options.