Menopause is a normal biological phase that every woman goes through. This season of your life is pronounced by fluctuating hormones levels which can result in hair changes. Many women notice their hair changes in volume, length and texture during menopause. You can’t stop the natural changes in your hormones; however, there are several other contributors you can control. Read on to understand menopausal hair changes and learn how to properly care for your strands during this time.
What Happens to Your Hair during Menopause?
Levels of estrogen, a hormone that promotes hair growth by elongating your hair growth phase, drop during menopause. Testosterone, a male hormone that causes damage to our hair follicles, rises. When testosterone contacts enzymes in your scalp and skin, it turns into a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT binds to receptors in your follicles causing them to shrink, which causes your hair to grow thinner than before. The contracted follicles shed hair prematurely and produce narrower strands.
Additionally, your levels of progesterone, a hormone produced by your ovaries after you ovulate, is lower during menopause. Progesterone plays a crucial role in inhibiting the enzyme that turns testosterone into DHT. Low progesterone levels cause DHT levels to rise.
Symptoms of Menopausal Hair Change
Women can experience menopausal hair changes in several ways. You may begin to notice the following:
- Around the crown of your head, your scalp is more noticeable.
- Your hair doesn’t grow as long
- A recession at your temples
- Your frontal hairline has a lot of texture.
- A difference in thickness of individual strands
- A thinner ponytail
- Seeing more hair fall out daily
How to Care for Hair during Menopause
1. Reduce Stress
The hormonal imbalance of menopause alters your brain chemistry, which can prompt an extreme response to anxiety or depression. Anxiety can negatively affect follicles by stunting hair growth and increasing hair shedding. Additionally, stress can lead to hair pulling or an auto-immune response in which your blood cells destroy your hair follicles.
The good news is, stress-related hair loss is often short-term and will regrow with the proper care. It is nearly impossible to avoid stress at all costs; however, here are a few ideas to limit stress:
- Exercise regularly
- Ease your mind through yoga and meditation
- Spend time outside
- Reduce your workload if possible
- Read your favorite book
- Take a bath
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Hormones are formed by fats, so it’s essential to incorporate healthy fats in your diet. Foods like salmon, herring, chia seeds, and walnuts are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, extra-virgin olive oil and avocados are high in omega-9s. A diet low in simple carbohydrates may be worth considering because age-related changes in insulin sensitivity affect how we process sugars, ultimately affecting your hair.
Whole foods with small levels of plant-based estrogens, like flaxseed or miso, can also be beneficial to some women. Your body’s collagen production slows with age, so it is important to include it in your diet. Try a high-collagen food like bone broth. Also, keratin is a protein that is essential to the structure of your hair strands. Keratin is made up from amino acids, which your body absorbs from protein-rich foods like chicken, avocados, eggs, milk, and kale. Supplements that benefit hair health include vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, iodine, iron and zinc. If you consider looking for a high-quality supplement, the Significant Other – Hair, Skin & Nails Supplement from Better Not Younger is a must in your health care routine.
3. Be Gentle
Your hair is more prone to damage during menopause, so it must be handled with care. Your hair is more susceptible to damage freshly out of the shower. When your hair is wet, the proteins that in each strand form weaker hydrogen bonds leaving your strands easily breakable when under tension. To treat your hair delicately, comb through any knots before the shower and allow your hair to dry for fifteen minutes before brushing and blow drying. Secondly, use gentle hair accessories to avoid pulling or tugging your strands. Rather than using plastic elastics, opt for fabric hair ties. Additionally, a soft-bristle brush, stimulates hair strength and growth. It can promote natural oil production in the scalp and keep frizz at bay.
Also, ditch hair towels made of cotton or terrycloth. Firstly, cotton towels are rough on your cuticles, this can increase frizz and leave strands dry. Cotton towels can absorb too much moisture out of your hair quickly and lead to damaged strands. To minimize breakage, use a microfiber towel to blot up excess moisture without leaving your hair dry and brittle.
4. Stay Hydrated!
According to the Cleveland Clinic, roughly 50 percent of women deal with hair loss during their life. A common cause of hair loss in your middle age is caused by the hormonal shifts during menopause. Beyond supporting all of our body systems, proper hydration directly benefits the health of your hair. Every single cell in your body, including those that produce new hair, uses water as a source of energy. If you’re not consuming an adequate amount of water, your hair will start to suffer making it dry and brittle.
5. Clean your Scalp
Interestingly, hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause, which can negatively impact your hair. Your body releases sweat to cool you down. Sweat can buildup on the scalp and clog your follicles. This excess buildup can eventually lead to hair fall. If you experience hot flashes, a deep scalp cleanser can draw out impurities and wash away gunk on your scalp. Keep an eye out for ingredients like charcoal, lactic acid, birch extract, and methyl lactate to exfoliate and soothe your scalp.
6. Check your Medications
Hair loss can also be the result of certain medications. Medications, such as those used for cancer, arthritis, heart problems, gout and high blood pressure are associated with hair loss. It is advised to discuss possible side effects from your prescribed medications with your healthcare team. Depending on your condition, it may be possible to adjust your medication.
7. Avoid Excessive Heat Styling
Whenever possible, try not to reach for the hot tools. Excessive heat exposure removes your hair of natural oils that keep it hydrated and soft. It strips away keratin at the follicle level, which can lead to thinner hair. It is important to keep your hair hydrated during menopause. To do so, avoid unnecessary heat-styling.