Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 6/15/2021
Sometimes hair loss isn’t just for the boys. It can happen to women, too.
There are unfortunately a few different types of hair loss, including telogen effluvium, alopecia, and what you’re here to read about: female pattern baldness.
Whether you’re losing too many strands in the shower or experiencing hair loss at full speed, read on to learn more about female pattern baldness—and what you can do about it.
Before you get too stressed about losing your locks, know it’s normal to experience some hair loss.
The average person has 100,000 hair follicles on her head, and she’ll lose around 100 strands a day from “normal” hair loss.
Normal hair loss is actually part of the hair’s three life cycle phases: the anagen phase, catagen phase and telogen phase.
Growth happens in the anagen phase, during which about 90 percent of your hair follicles are active.
The catagen phase signals the beginning of the end, leading into the telogen or resting phase, where the hair falls out and the follicle rests until it starts the cycle again.
So “normal” hair is actually about 90 percent of capacity, with 10 percent resting at any given time.
Hair loss is caused by some interruption to these phases, either permanent or temporary. In the case of female pattern baldness, it can be permanent.
The causes of female pattern baldness are well understood.
While researchers don’t precisely know the mechanisms behind it, female pattern baldness involves hormones called androgens, which interrupt the follicle’s return from the telogen to anagen phase.
If left untreated, this interruption can become permanent.
As you might suspect, female pattern hair loss has causes similar to male pattern baldness. It’s a genetic predisposition, so if you have a history of it in the family, you may want to be more conscious of signs.
As a side note, female pattern baldness can be related to other conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic syndrome and an increase in your risk of coronary artery disease.
Female pattern baldness is frequently connected to menopause, too, which typically signals the onset of symptoms.
Menopause’s effects can slow your hair’s growth rate reduce hair diameter and lessen the amount of hair in the anagen or growth phase.
Female pattern baldness is similar to male pattern hair loss, but it does present differently.
While men tend to see hair loss at the hairline and on the crown, women will typically see hair loss as a thinning of hair across the scalp.
The front of the hairline is generally not affected in women. Follicles will also begin to go through the process of miniaturization—meaning, they’ll become smaller, more fragile and therefore more susceptible to breakage.
Female pattern baldness is similar to other types of hair loss, including diffuse alopecia, which will have similar effects on the scalp despite a less apparent role of androgens.
There are several treatment options for female pattern baldness, though it’s important to understand that at a certain point, some of the hair loss you experience might be irreversible.
That said, there are a variety of treatments available to help stop and in some cases reverse the damage.
It’s helpful to start with lifestyle changes—which can improve your health in general.
You’ve heard it before, but better sleep, exercise and reduced stress can go far toward better health—and hair.
You can also up your vitamin intake to combat some female pattern baldness effects. Vitamins A and D as well as biotin (as found in these Biotin Gummy Multivitamins)—can help your body produce healthy hair.
One thing that works great for women is topical minoxidil, which promotes hair growth by increasing blood flow to follicles.
A study (in men) showed that minoxidil boosted hair growth by as much as 18 percent.
For more on shampoos for preventing hair loss, check out this guide to hair loss shampoo ingredients for all you need to know.
Hair loss doesn’t have to take over your scalp or your life. If you’re seeking more information, read Female Pattern Hair Loss 101 to learn more about the basics.
You can also discover treatment options for hair loss, and for your best bet, consult with a healthcare professional, to learn what’s best for you.