When Your Genes Betray You: What is Female Pattern Baldness?

Confidence is a big deal. We all have insecurities, but we also all have parts of ourselves we love, and we rely on them to feel beautiful and strong. When one of those “good parts” begins to vanish, it can have a larger impact on us than we’d like to admit.

That’s the heartbreak women go through every day due to female pattern baldness. The hair they once flipped around confidently is fading fast, and they don’t know why.

The good news is that you’re far from alone in your hair loss struggle. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, 40% of women have noticeable hair loss by age 50. The number grows more as we get older.

Want to know where all your hair is going? Here’s what you need to know about female pattern baldness.

What is Female Pattern Baldness?

We’ve all heard of male pattern baldness, but few people realize that the same thing happens to women. The technical term is androgenetic alopecia.

Just as with men, a large number of women lose their hair in a specific pattern. It looks different from male pattern baldness, though.

A woman’s hair tends to start thinning at the top of her head. It often begins around the part in her hair, with a circle of thinning hair that gets larger and larger. This is different than the receding hairline and U-shaped hair loss men tend to see.

The good news is that women don’t lose as much hair as men do. It’s rare for a woman to develop a full “bald spot.” For women, it’s more of an issue of thinning hair rather than baldness.

What Causes Female Pattern Baldness?

Now that you know what your hair loss is, your next question is, “Why is this happening to me?” Blame your parents.

There’s a gene for female pattern baldness. It could come from either or both of your parents, and it’s common.

While you have that gene your whole life, it only triggers hair loss when your hormones change. For most women, that happens as they get near or enter menopause.

The primary hormone that initiates hair loss is called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT makes your hair follicles shrink, and as that shrinking progresses, your follicles produce thinner and more fragile hair. Eventually, some follicles stop producing hair at all.

Why does this tend to happen at menopause? It comes down to the balance in our hormones.

For most of our lives, our bodies produce enough estrogen to counteract the DHT. In menopause, though, that estrogen production drops off. Now the DHT is free to run rampant and shrink your hair follicles to its heart’s content.

Tips for Fighting Female Pattern Baldness

Knowing why you have hair loss is great, but what you really want to know is how to treat it. We’re happy to report that there’s plenty you can do, so start with these tips.

Start with Reliable Medications

The most direct way to treat female pattern baldness is with medications that are designed for that specific purpose. Depending on how fast your hair is thinning and how much it’s progressed, hair loss medications can slow or stop your hair loss or even help hair regrow.

You can use hair loss medications topically, orally, or as a medicated shampoo. Choose the option that makes it easier for you to stick to the treatment regimen.

Remember that it takes time for the medication to work, so be patient and give it several months to do its thing.

Be Careful with Wet Hair

As much as hair loss medication can do, you can give it a hand by avoiding actions that cause more hair to fall out or break.

When your hair is wet, it’s more susceptible to breakage and pulling. Steer clear of rubbing your hair dry with a towel. Dabbing is fine, but avoid anything that causes friction.

When it comes to detangling, only use a comb on wet hair and never a brush. Brushes on wet hair tend to pull too much and can speed up your hair loss.
<h3style=”border-bottom:2px solid #007754; padding-bottom:6px;”>Consider Hormonal Treatments

Shifting hormones trigger female pattern baldness, so for some, one way to combat the hair loss is to rebalance the hormones. You can do this with hormone replacement therapy.

This treatment requires careful medical supervision, so ask your doctor if they recommend it for you. The combination of hormone replacement therapy and hair loss medications often produces excellent results.

Prioritize Your Health

It might be genetics and hormones that cause female pattern hair loss, but that hair loss could be combining with hair loss from other sources. As you treat your genetic hair loss, make sure you address other risk factors too.

Take the time to care for your health. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and get regular exercise. Find ways to relieve your stress, as this can be a major contributor to hair loss too.

Go Natural

Every woman wants her hair to look its best, but the ways you style your hair could be making your hair loss worse.

In particular, avoid styles that pull or put pressure on your hair. Tight braids are the worse culprits, but buns and ponytails can cause problems too. Instead, let your hair hang free as often as you can.

It’s also helpful to keep your heat styling to a minimum. Heat damage can cause hair to break, which makes your thinning hair more noticeable.

Take Action Sooner Rather Than Later

This is true no matter how you combat your hair loss. Female pattern baldness is a progressive condition, so it will keep getting worse unless you do something about it. The sooner you treat it, the easier it will be to treat.

Reclaiming Your Confidence

If you need some hope in the midst of your female pattern baldness, there are two great takeaways here.

First, you’re in good company and there are more women with the same struggle than you think there are. Second, there’s plenty you can do to fight back against your hair loss.

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