Menopause is an inevitable part of life for all women, it is not something that women look forward to, as many symptoms go along with it. So, what even is menopause? Menopause is considered to mark the end of a women’s reproductive years. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It’s diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States” (Mayo Clinic 2020).
Women usually experience symptoms before menopause, during a period called perimenopause. Some symptoms may include (but are not limited to); hot flashes, chills, night sweats, weight gain, slowed metabolism, irregular periods, mood changes, loss of breast fullness, sleep problems, dry skin, and hair thinning. All of these symptoms are the body’s natural reaction to a women’s ovaries creating less of the hormone called estrogen. The lack of estrogen causes changed to a women’s period, which eventually leads to it coming to a complete halt. The symptoms are just a natural reaction our body must all these changes.
There are three stages to menopause, the first being perimenopause (as stated above), the second being menopause, and lastly is post-menopause. Perimenopause is where most of the symptoms occur. Menopause is diagnosed after a woman has gone a full twelve months without a period. This is when the ovaries no longer release eggs and stop producing most of their estrogen. After this has happened, a woman is now in the postmenopausal stage, after they have not bled for an entire year, during this time most symptoms from the perimenopausal stage and menopausal stage will subside. Although some still do experience symptoms for years to come, and if you are, this is a good time to speak to your doctor about it. Because the estrogen levels in women are lower during this time, they are more susceptible to multiple different health conditions.
As stated earlier, menopause can cause hair loss, due to the changes going on with the body and its hormones. Hair loss in women tends to be more subtle than it is in men. More common than not, women experience the thinning of the hair rather than bald spots, but both can happen during this time. This can happen on the side, front or back of the head. Most women notice this change while brushing or washing their hair, they may notice more hair coming out of the brush. The hair loss that happens during menopause is directly caused by the imbalance of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. According to Healthline, “These hormones help hair grow faster and stay on the head for longer periods. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner. A decrease in these hormones also triggers an increase in the production of androgens or a group of male hormones. Androgens shrink hair follicles, resulting in hair loss on the head” (Cappelloni 2019). On the other hand, this can cause excessive growth of peach fuzz on the face, or hairs on the chin. It is not only the hormonal changes that can cause hair loss during menopause for women, but also stress. Going through menopause, in general, can be a stressful time in a women’s life, and hair loss and stress have a direct correlation.
How can we prevent this? First and foremost, reducing stress is one of the best things we can do to prevent hair loss during menopause, and in general. Some ways that we can reduce stress are exercise; exercise can help lower the hormone we have called cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. It also can release endorphins which is a chemical that our body creates that can act as a natural pain killer and all-around improve our mood. Exercise does not have to mean going for a run, but it can be as simple as taking daily walks, stretching, or going for a bike ride. We also need to make sure we are getting an ample amount of sleep every night, sleep is so much more necessary than people realize, and it needs to be a priority to get at least eight hours a night. Essential oils can also help relieve stress, scents like lavender, rose, frankincense, and sandalwood are known to improve your mood and decrease stress. Lastly, the best way to reduce stress is to make time for doing the things you love, whether that be spending time with friends or family, picking up old hobbies, or just spending time with yourself. Whatever brings you joy, make sure you make time for it. Another important thing to keep in mind while trying to prevent menopause caused hair loss is your diet. Eating a balanced diet is so important, especially as we continue to get older.
According to Healthline, “Drinking green tea and taking vitamin B6 and folic acid supplements may help restore hair growth as well” (Cappelloni 2019). Finding foods with fatty acids is also a good way to help prevent hair growth, foods like tuna, flaxseed oil, walnuts, salmon, and almonds all have fatty acids. Along with a well-balanced diet, drinking lots of water is also just as important. We all know that staying hydrated is just as important as putting gas into your car, we need it to run! Although the amount of water needed for each person is different, the rule of thumb is to drink at least eight cups of water per day. Lastly, it is super helpful to use less heat on your hair during this time. Using heat on your hair is known for damaging it, and it can also cause hair loss and breakage. It is best to keep your hair natural during this time and give it a chance to breathe, as it already is going through enough stress on its own with the hormone changes.
Cappelloni, Lisa. “Hair Loss and Menopause: How to Prevent It.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 1 Apr. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/menopause/hair-loss.
“Menopause.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Oct. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397.