Menopause Hair: Can You Dig It? No!

hair-lossHow many 60- or 70-year-old women do you know, have you seen, sporting bountiful, healthy hair?

Uh … a few? None?

Why does hair suffer so dramatically when a woman turns a certain age? Ask any menopausal woman about her hair and you will likely get a grumpy retort in response.

It’s not only we peons who suffer from post-midlife hair woes. It’s an equal opportunity crisis. Take actress Nicole Kidman, for example, who had the most beatific curly, red hair when she arrived on the scene 25 years ago. That stunning mane was probably one of the reasons she got recognized as potential movie star material.

What happened to it? Where did it go?

I’m not just referring to her current shorter length, different color and the lack of curls but to her hair in general. It’s a mere vestige of what it once was and I doubt her new style is by choice. Kidman’s not even old, relatively speaking, but appears to be encountering issues with hair thinning.

P.P. I used to have a little more hair and then menopause came and my hair started to get thinner. Now I hate it. I would love to have more hair.

What Changes?
Menopausal women no longer possess sufficient amounts of estrogen, the female hormone making skin look good and hair full and lustrous. There is less hair on your head and what is there is thinner, which results in flat, lackluster locks. Say goodbye to volume.

M.V.: My hair is super dry and is thinner. I have tried olive oil and am currently using coconut oil. I color my hair and use a flat iron. Both can be damaging. I am not ready to go gray!

Our scalp gets drier as we age because we are no longer producing adequate amounts of sebum (oil.) When the scalp is dry, the hair usually is too. When hair loses pigment and becomes gray or white its texture changes and it may become wirier. That natural oomph your hair once possessed may vanish and hair is lank and lifeless.

J.B.: When my hair first started becoming gray, it was an ugly, dingy color and I could not stand it so I colored it. The coloring helped tame the wild gray hair. Since I have become really old, the gray has become white and I’ve decided I can live with it. I have trouble recognizing the person in the mirror, though. We’re becoming better friends, however, as I’ve decided being old is not horrible although not all that fun, either.

While coloring hair augments the hair shaft, making the hair fuller, it also damages locks that have become fragile over the years. It’s a damned Catch 22. What to do, what to do?

D.E.: I color my hair. I’m not ready to be gray. My hair is a lot thinner. I am sure that’s due to getting old. I really am not crazy about the golden years!

Female Pattern Baldness
Between 30 and 40 percent of post-menopausal women experience female pattern baldness. When estrogen disappears and male hormones (in women) increase, which happens during menopause, this leads to the death of hair follicles and hair thinning.

Many women color their hair because they don’t want gray locks. Coloring hair, relaxing it, blow-drying, perming it and highlighting it over and over again can ultimately damage hair. Treat your hair as gently as possible because it can’t tolerate the abuse it once did.

Treatment Options
The FDA has approved Minoxidil (Rogaine) over-the-counter formulas for use. It is applied topically and does stop hair thinning. Some users report hair re-growth.

Post-menopausal women may choose to take finasteride (Proscar and Propecia) a prescription medication, which halts the production of androgens (male hormones) leading to hair loss. When used to treat hair loss, finasteride is being used off-label.

Finasteride is designed to treat enlarged prostate in men. However, it was discovered it lessens hair loss and promotes hair regrowth because it reduces dihydrotestosterone levels in the scalp.

When used for hair-loss, it is being used off-label, which means it hasn’t been approved by the FDA for this purpose but can be legally prescribed by a physician if s/he considers it appropriate. If a woman has high androgen levels, finasteride is an alternative. Do NOT use this product if you are in your child-bearing years.

Don’t throw in the towel. Fight back. Eat better, take your vitamins and be kinder to your hair. Wear a hat when you are out in the sun and consider wearing a bathing cap when swimming in chlorinated water, which is hard on hair.

Discuss this issue with your physician. You are surely not alone in this battle to maintain healthy, bountiful hair in your ‘twilight’ years.

Menopausal women unite and declare war on hair thinning and hair loss!

Share This Blog

About This Blogger

Cindi Pearce

Cindi Pearce has been writing professionally since the days of manual typewriters. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University, Cindi is especially interested in women’s health concerns. She teaches yoga, is an amateur belly dancer, loves mowing her five acres of land with her beloved zero turn mower, has three grown children, one granddaughter and five large dogs. Cindi has managed to stay married to the same man for 35 years.

Leave a Reply