The only similar thing between a man losing his hair and a woman losing her hair is the fact that there is hair falling out. Treating male hair loss and treating female hair loss basically starts from the same place. Thinning hair. The biological reasons are similar when it comes to autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata, and when hair loss occurs due to things like chemotherapy. However, the social effects on men vs women couldn’t be more different as well as how the hair loss manifests on the scalp.
Even when it comes to the most common form of hair loss called androgenetic alopecia, scientists are pretty sure they know why it happens to men, but just kind of scratch their heads when it happens to a woman. It could be that there hasn’t been as much research into female hair loss as there has been into men’s hair loss. Or it could be the hormonal and genetic factors concerning female pattern hair loss are more complex.
When a man loses their hair it’s never a good time. 50 years ago, male baldness was seen as an inferior genetic trait and balding men were seen as less than, then men with full heads of hair. Luckily for men, in today’s day and age baldness has become much more excepted. In certain cases, bald men are seen as strong and masculine. Just look at Mr. Clean with his bulging biceps and shining dome.
Female Hair Loss & Treating Female Hair Loss
Hair loss for women is much less accepted in today’s world. Even though women experience hair loss nearly as often as men do, you rarely see a balding woman out and about. This is because women will go to greater lengths to hide the effects of their hair loss than men. When it comes to treating female hair loss, women are not as quick to sign up as men are either. This is because there is such a stigma attached to women’s hair loss that they would rather hide it from the world than to face it head-on and seek out treatment.
How Alopecia Affects Women
Androgenetic alopecia is by far the most common form of hair loss that affects both men and women. Knowing if you’re affected by androgenic alopecia is one of the first steps in treating female hair loss. This form of hair loss affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States. Androgenetic alopecia is also commonly referred to as pattern baldness or female pattern baldness. Androgenetic alopecia is characterized by its predisposition to the individual’s genetics, with both the maternal and paternal genes involved, and how sufferer’s bodies react to “androgens.” (Ho, 2021)
Androgens are a group of sex hormones that starts to increase in both men and women during puberty. Androgens play a role in reproductive health and body development and while both the male and female bodies produce them, males normally produce much more than women. The most common androgen is testosterone. In males, it is the testicles that produce androgens and in women, it is the ovaries. The body’s adrenal glands will also produce androgens.
Androgenetic alopecia occurs when the activation of the androgen receptors shortens the growing phase of a hair follicle. This means that the hair follicles will shed more hair than they will grow new hair leading to hair loss. This excessive activation leads to follicular miniaturization through a progressively shorter anagen (growing) phase, resulting in thinner and shorter hair follicles which in the end may not even penetrate through the epidermis (skin). (Ho, 2021)
The Causes of Androgenic alopecia
Androgenic alopecia can be caused by a variety of factors tied to the actions of hormones. These include some ovarian cysts, taking high androgen index birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause. Instead of the standard thinning hairline and bald spot on the crown of the head, Androgenic alopecia generally manifests as “Diffuse hair loss” in women. In other words, the entire scalp loses hair, creating a thinning look most noticeable at the part of the hair.
While scientists are relatively sure that androgenetic alopecia is due to the body’s ability to react to androgens, that’s not always the case. In fact, some women who suffer from androgenetic alopecia have normal levels and androgens in their bodies. This makes exactly why these women are suffering from androgenetic alopecia a mystery.
When your body experiences traumatic shock it can cause hair loss. Things like a severe infection, extreme phycological stress, major surgery, and childbirth can cause it. Normally around 6 to 8 weeks after the traumatic event has occurred your body will start to experience the form of hair loss called telogen effluvium. If you’re interested in treating female hair loss due to telogen effluvium, you must first understand how it affects your hair growth and health.
Normal hair follicles have three phases or cycles. The anagen, or growing phase, is what the majority of your hair should be in at any given time. This is when the hair is growing normally and the anagen phase should last between 3 to 5 years. The catagen or transition phase occurs when the anagen phase ends and lasts right around 10 days. During the catagen phase, hair growth slows significantly and the hair follicles shrink. During the catagen phase, the hair will detach from the hair follicle. After the catagen phase, your hair will enter the telogen phase. This is when the hair will shed from the scalp so that the hair follicle can again enter the anagen phase.
When telogen effluvium occurs, the trauma to the system will slow down the anagen phase which will mean that fewer hairs will enter the next two phases of growth. Due to the slowed-down anagen phase, telogen effluvium will cause around 30% of all the hair on a person’s head to enter the telogen phase at the same time, which causes hair loss. (Lewin, 2018). Telogen effluvium often manifests in women the same as androgenetic alopecia. A general thinning will occur throughout the entire scalp which will be the most noticeable at the part in the hair.
This form of alopecia is less common than the two listed above as it only affects around 2% of the population. Alopecia areata is what is known as an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system (white blood cells) mistakes a natural organ or tissue for a foreign invader and attacks it. In the case of alopecia areata, a person’s white blood cells will attack the individual’s hair follicles, causing hair loss. This condition can manifest in persons of any age but is more common in children and young adults.
Alopecia areata normally has spontaneous remissions and reoccurrences with the hair loss causing round patches of hair to fall out altogether. Sometimes it will just occur as one solitary patch of hair that falls out. In more severe cases, all of the hair on the head will fall out at once. Unfortunately, when it comes to treating female hair loss due to alopecia areata, there are not many options. At least not medical options that will regrow the hair you’ve lost.
Non-surgical Ideas for Treating Female Hair Loss
Most women really struggle when they start to lose their hair. The social and psychological effects of hair loss in women have been known to cause depression. In fact, a study was conducted on just how hair loss and depression are related in women in 2012. Researchers found that out of all the women who were interviewed, well over half said they experienced hair loss, and out of that half, 38% of them had at least two key depression symptoms. (Schmitt, 2012)
For those of us who have never experienced depression before, it makes it very difficult for individuals who are experiencing it to seek any kind of help or aid. If someone is in a deep depression, chances are they are not going to seek out an invasive surgical procedure like a hair transplant surgery. Because of this, we have compiled a list of non-surgical means of treating female hair loss, some of which can be done at home.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)
PRP therapy cannot generally be done at home but using this process to combat female hair loss has had some great success. The process begins by drawing some blood from the patient who is receiving the therapy. Then the blood sample is sent through a centrifuge, which spins the sample until all the components of the blood have become separated. Then the doctor will fill a syringe with the plasma that contains all the blood platelets and inject the plasma into the area of the scalp affected by the hair loss.
This process has shown an even greater success rate among female patients than in males. The majority of men who experience hair loss, have their hairline recede in an “M” pattern near the forehead, leaving large bald spots. In women the entire head of hair thins, starting at the part line. PRP therapy rejuvenates the hair follicles that are underperforming, as they are in the case of female pattern hair loss, causing them to enter their anagen phase and to begin to grow new hair. When men are fully bald, normally the hair follicles are dead and unable to be rejuvenated in this manner.
Research published by the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology cited seven recent studies that demonstrated positive results in using PRP for hair loss, pointing at growth factors in PRP that stimulate follicles and encourage new hair growth. (Stevens, 2018)
PRP therapy is effective for both androgenetic alopecia as well as telogen effluvium in women. For any condition that causes hair follicles to become stuck in any one phase of the growth process, PRP will revitalize the hair follicles and cause them to re-enter the anagen (growth) phase so that new hair will begin to regrow.
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Low-level Laser Therapy is a process in which low-level lasers are calibrated to a specific frequency that interacts with the cells of the body. LLLT has been used to treat a variety of different conditions such as wound healing, stroke recovery, and most importantly, (for this article) hair loss.
LLLT was discovered in 1967 by a fellow named Endre Mester, while he was trying to reproduce a process that was conducted by another researcher using ruby light to cure tumors. Mester’s ruby mistakenly only produced a fraction of the light that was originally used. While the light did not cure any tumors, it did accelerate the growth of hair in the rats in the study. (Michael R. Hamblin, 2017)
LLLT, like PRP, interacts with the cells of the under-performing hair follicles. Research has shown that LLLT has biostimulatory effects on tissues and is presumed to prolong anagen (growth phase), stimulate anagen re-entry from telogen (resting phase), and inhibit early transition to catagen (regression phase). (Egger, 2020)
LLLT has been shown to be one of the best options for hair loss that has caused just a general thinning of the hair, as it does in women with androgenetic alopecia. Hair loss related to menopause has also shown that LLLT is effective as well as hair loss related to post-partum issues. (Karen Clark)
SMP, also known as Scalp micropigmentation, is a relatively simple process where the scalp is tattooed with tiny dots that cosmetically creates an appearance of thicker hair. Scalp micropigmentation isn’t a hair restoration procedure per se but is more of a technique that can be used along with other female hair restoration options.
Hair Loss Drugs
There are several mainstream hair loss drugs on the market today. Most are used for treating female hair loss. Minoxidil (Rogaine), was originally used to treat high blood pressure until it was discovered that a side effect of the drug was hair growth. When applied topically only a small amount of Minoxidil is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.
Minoxidil has been shown to be even more effective in women than it is in men. Again, this is due to how female pattern hair loss manifests in women. Product labeling suggests that women should only use the 2% concentration of minoxidil, not 5%, because the FDA has not approved use of the higher concentration in women. However, many doctors prescribe the 5% for women as it has been shown to be much more effective than the 2% in regrowing hair. (Lucky, 2004)
There has also been success in stopping hair loss in women, and even regrowing hair when using drugs that inhibit androgen receptors. A drug called Spironolactone (Aldactone) is a potassium-sparing diuretic shown to act as an “anti-androgen” drug. It dramatically slows down the production of androgens in the adrenal glands and the ovaries as well as blocking the actions of the androgen dihydrotestosterone, (testosterone). Another androgen receptor inhibitor is Cimetidine (Tagamet). Cimetidine is a histamine blocker mainly used to treat ulcers but shown to block androgen receptors as well. (Brough, 2017)
Birth Control Pills
Oral contraceptives have a known ability to decrease the production of androgens in the ovaries. This makes birth control pills a good way to control and treat women suffering from androgenetic alopecia. The same cautions must be used when taking birth control pills when treating female hair loss as when used for contraception. If you are a smoker over the age of 35, there is an increased risk of blood clots when using birth control pills.
It is important that you discuss the use of the pill with your doctor. There are types of birth control pills that will cause the ovaries and adrenal glands to produce more androgens, which will contribute to hair loss rather than combat it.
Research has shown that the correct low-androgen index birth control pills have reduced levels of androgen, especially testosterone, by inhibiting ovarian and adrenal androgen synthesis and by increasing levels of sex hormone-binding globulin. (Zimmerman, 2014)
FUE for Female Hair Loss Patients
If all the non-surgical hair restoration options have failed, then there is generally little else that will be as effective as surgery. Nobody wants to undergo a hair transplant procedure, but as far as they go, they are the most effective option when treating female hair loss.
FUE stands for Follicular Unit Extraction and is one of the most modern forms of hair transplant surgery. In an FUE procedure, the doctor applies a local anesthetic and extracts each individual hair follicle. Then after processing the hair follicle, the doctor will implant it into the specified area in need of the hair.
In the case of using an FUE hair transplant in treating female hair loss, it would be important to ensure that the hair in the donor area, where the follies will be extracted from, is strong and thick. When a woman suffers from diffuse hair loss, utilizing other hair restoration solutions prior to surgery may be best. Using Rogaine. Engaging in LLLT therapy for an extended period of time before the FUE hair transplant. These may ensure that all of the hair transplanted remains thick and strong.
Treating Female Hair Loss at Best Hair Transplant Los Angeles
We understand how difficult it is to be a woman suffering from hair loss in this day and age. It affects how a woman sees herself as well as influencing how others will treat her. While hair loss is never something men want they do have an upper hand. After all, it is manageable due to the acceptance of bald and balding men in our society. Bald men are on our TVs, leading our political parties, and are even models. The mainstream media rarely features or discusses women suffering from hair loss. Why? Because of the stigma attached to it.
Here at Best Hair Transplant Los Angeles, we are experts at treating female hair loss. We are an FUE clinic that understands how different female hair loss compares to male hair loss. We know that alopecia in women cannot be treated the same as it is in men. As a result, we offer hair loss treatment plans for women based on their individual needs.
Call us today for a complimentary consultation. You’ll sit down with one of our doctors and discuss if an FUE hair transplant surgery is right for you. We’re here to help and we’ll make sure we educate you and inform you. We’ll let you know the best ways to treat female hair loss.
Affordable Options for Treating Female Hair Loss in Los Angeles
Best Hair Transplant is the best place to schedule your hair transplant in Los Angeles. We’ve helped both men and women regrow their lost hair. But don’t take our word for it. We suggest learning as much as possible about hair restoration. Do so prior to making a decision on how to address your hair loss. Not every procedure is right for everyone.
At Best Hair Transplant, we’re proud of our results and happy to provide hair restoration services. Additionally, we’re proud to make hair transplants affordable and help you save money on a variety of hair transplants. To ensure your ease of mind, you can view our customer recommendations HERE. Furthermore, you can also see our Google reviews and Yelp reviews. We can’t wait to help you start restoring your lost hair.
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- Brough, K. R. (2017). Hormonal therapy in female pattern hair loss. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology.
- Egger, R. (2020). Examining Safety and Efficacy of Low-Level Laser Therapy for Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Review of the Literature. Skin Appendage Disorders.
- Ho, C. H. (2021). Androgenetic Alopecia. StatPearls.
- Karen Clark. (n.d.). Light Therapy — A Promising Option for Menopausal Hair Loss. Today’s Geriatric Medicine.
- Lewin, J. (2018). Is telogen effluvium reversible? Retrieved from Medical News Today.
- Lucky, A. W. (2004). A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 5% and 2% topical minoxidil solutions in the treatment of female pattern hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol.
- Michael R. Hamblin. (2017). Photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy. HHS Public Access.
- Schmitt, J. V. (2012). Hair loss perception and symptoms of depression in female outpatients attending a general dermatology clinic. PubMed.
- Stevens, J. (2018). Platelet-rich plasma for androgenetic alopecia: A review of the. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology.
- Zimmerman, Y. (2014). The effect of combined oral contraception on testosterone levels in healthy women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Oxford Journals.