Female Pattern Baldness – Women’s Hair Loss

Women are increasingly catching up with men in the field of baldness. Although the risk factors are common for both men and women, in the earlier days women were not as prone to baldness as men. The reason being, the presence of estrogen and progesterone has a protective effect on hair and enables good growth. Furthermore in earlier times women mostly stayed indoors and were not exposed to environmental triggers. Therefore even with hereditary tendencies, women did not suffer from baldness easily. On the other hand, men have not only been weighed down by hereditary influences but have also been exposed to outside triggers like work pressure, pollution, change of water and thus baldness developed faster in men. But the scenario now has changed. Recent reports have shown increasing incidences of Female pattern baldness in women. This may be a sign of changing times as more and more women are now getting out of homes, taking up challenging roles, traveling overseas & getting exposed to the same outside triggers and are therefore becoming as vulnerable to baldness as men. In fact women are not only going bald faster but also at a younger age.

What are the symptoms of Pattern Hair loss in women?

Female pattern baldness is the most common form of baldness seen in women. In this there is not much hair loss, but each hair progressively starts thinning out. This is called miniaturization in which the individual hairs start decreasing in size, in diameter and in length until they eventually disappear, making the scalp visible.

The hair thinning goes undetected in the early stages due to the length of the hair but progressively gets worse which is also referred in American Academy of Dermatology Association. The woman is often not sure whether to worry or not till it is too late. This is where a Tricho Analysis can help. It can detect these initial signs of hair thinning so that a suitable line of treatment can be started in the early stages.

What are the causes of Pattern Hair loss in women?

Just like men, women are prone to hereditary baldness as well. A woman would have a 50% chance of developing baldness if one parent suffers from baldness and a 75% chance if both parents have baldness. This hereditary baldness starts in a similar way as in men (as seen in picture below). Often heredity in women is non-linear genetics as compared to the more easily understood linear genetics. In non-linear genetics, baldness need not be present in every successive generation. It can often skip 2-3 generations and show up in successive generation.

For example,
You may find grandfather or grand aunt suffering from severe baldness, whereas parents may have great hair. Genetics is often just luck of the draw. In such cases, detecting the miniaturization in the early stage helps. The miniaturization can be detected microscopically and helps to diagnose the condition before it starts becoming visible.

After heredity, this is the second most common cause of baldness, especially in women. It plays a big role in triggering premature baldness in women.

On an average, women with hereditary tendencies would start losing hair in their 40s or 50s. But if these women were to suffer from hormonal imbalances at an early age, then they would also be prone to losing hair prematurely. The logic is simple, more the number of factors, sooner and faster is the hair loss.

The commonest hormonal changes faced by women are during menarche, childbirth and menopause. These are not diseases, and the hormone levels are perfectly normal during these phases and yet it triggers hair loss. This is because the hair roots become more receptive to the hormone androgen latching onto the molecules leading to baldness. Something similar also occurs after menopause when there is a natural lowering of the female hormones allowing masculine features to develop like baldness and increase in facial hair seen as rudimentary moustache and beard.

Furthermore, due to stress and environmental triggers there has been a steady rise in the number of women suffering from disorders like PCOD and thyroid imbalances. These in turn trigger hair loss prematurely.

Another study showed women entering into early menopause, as much as 10 years earlier than their mothers. With the increase in such instances, it is not surprising to see increasing onset of baldness in women at younger ages.