Menopause is a natural part of aging that brings with it a variety of changes to the way you look, think and feel.
Common symptoms during the transition to menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, memory difficulties and issues such as vaginal dryness.
For many women, one of the changes that occurs during menopause is hair loss. Often referred to as menopausal hair loss, many women experience mild to moderate hair thinning during their late 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.
If you’re in menopause or perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause) and have noticed that your hair appears thinner than usual, it’s important not to panic.
Like other common forms of hair loss, menopausal hair loss can often be treated and managed with lifestyle changes and medication.
Below, we’ve explained how and why menopausal hair loss occurs, as well as the early signs of hair loss you may notice if you’re prone to menopausal hair loss.
We’ve also explained how you can treat menopausal hair loss to maintain your hair’s thickness, strength and appearance during menopause.
Menopausal hair loss is, as its name suggests, a form of hair loss that typically develops during perimenopause and menopause.
As you enter menopause in your 40s, 50s or 60s, you may notice that your hair appears thinner than it did a few years ago.
You may be able to notice thinning around your part line, which is the natural line that your hair parts itself into.
Female pattern hair loss is caused by a combination of factors that includes your genes and the effects of androgen hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Over time, DHT can miniaturize your hair follicles and reduce the size of the hair shaft (the part of the hair that grows out from the follicles).
This can result in hair that looks thin and, as more time passes, more obvious hair loss.
Although androgens are typically associated with men, they also play important roles in a range of biological functions for women.
Male pattern baldness, the form of androgenetic alopecia that affects men, usually appears as a receding hairline or bald spot around the crown.
In women, androgenetic alopecia is slightly different. Instead of producing a receding hairline, it usually appears as gradual thinning near the part line.
Over time, the part line can become very visible, eventually resulting in a large gap separating the two parts of your hair.
Some women with androgenetic alopecia also develop diffuse hair thinning that affects the hair around the scalp.
Androgenetic alopecia can develop at any time after adolescence. However, it’s most common to develop this form of hair loss shortly before or during menopause.
According to Harvard Medical School, approximately two thirds of all postmenopausal women experience either hair thinning or bald spots.
In comparison, research suggests that only about 12 percent of women are affected by female pattern baldness by the age of twenty-nine.
Most of the time, hair loss that occurs during menopause is caused by androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern hair loss.
However, several other health issues may cause you to temporarily lose hair. These include:
Although these forms of hair loss may occur during menopause, they generally aren’t thought to be related to the physical and hormonal changes that occur in your body during menopause.
We’ve talked about these forms of hair loss in more detail in our full guide to common causes of sudden hair loss.
One of the most common questions about menopausal hair loss is whether or not the hair that’s lost before and during menopause will grow back.
Just like hair loss from male pattern baldness, the female pattern hair loss that often develops in menopause is generally permanent.
This is because DHT physically changes the structure of your hair follicles.
Once a hair follicle is miniaturized, it’s less capable of producing the thick, pigmented "terminal" hairs that account for the vast majority of hairs on your scalp.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should panic if you’ve recently started to notice hair loss as you enter menopause.
While menopausal hair loss isn’t reversible, it is treatable.
From medication to surgery or even some over-the-counter hair care products, a variety of options are available that can treat this form of hair loss and help you to maintain your hair in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.
If you act quickly and treat your hair loss in its early stages, some of these treatments may even stimulate regrowth in areas of your scalp with noticeable hair thinning.
Minoxidil is a topical medication for hair loss. Currently, it’s the only medication approved by the FDA as a treatment for female pattern hair loss.
You may have heard of minoxidil under the common brand name Rogaine®.
Minoxidil works by moving hairs into the anagen, or growth, phase of your hair’s natural growth cycle. It also stimulates blood flow to your scalp to supply your hair follicles with nutrients.
Although minoxidil hasn’t been tested as a treatment for hair loss during menopause, research shows that it’s effective at treating female pattern hair loss.
For example, one study found that both 2% and 5% versions of minoxidil produced hair growth in women with hair loss caused by genetic and hormonal factors.
Spironolactone is an antiandrogen, a type of medication that reduces the amount of androgen hormones such as testosterone and DHT in your body.
Although spironolactone isn’t designed to treat hair loss, it’s sometimes prescribed off-label for this purpose — a topic we’ve discussed in our guide to spironolactone for hair loss.
Research suggests that spironolactone helps to prevent hormonal hair loss in women, although both the quantity and quality of existing studies is limited at the moment.
While over-the-counter hair care products are unlikely to completely stop the effects of female pattern hair loss, they may help to slow down its progression.
Products like hair loss prevention shampoo, conditioner and biotin vitamin supplements — all of which are available in hers’ Complete Hair Kit — are designed to reduce shedding and may provide your hair the nutrients and environment it needs to grow to its full potential.
While medications like minoxidil can reverse hair loss in its early stages, long-term exposure to DHT can harm your hair follicles so much that they no longer grow new hairs, even with regular, careful treatment.
Hair transplant surgery involves grafting healthy, DHT-resistant hairs from the back and sides of your scalp to areas with visible hair loss, such as the skin around your part line.
If you have advanced female pattern hair loss, this type of procedure can have a positive impact on your hair’s appearance and help you to retain fullness as you enter menopause.
Although hair transplant surgery is effective, it doesn’t come cheap. This type of procedure may cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a small number of hair grafts to $10,000 or more for a large-scale procedure.
Many women experience androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern hair loss, as they enter into menopause in their 40s, 50s or sixties.
If you’ve noticed your hair thinning, especially around your part line, it’s important to treat it early before it becomes worse.
Hers’ range of women’s hair care products includes everything you need to care and protect your hair at any stage of your life. Hers offer a form of topical minoxidil that’s formulated specifically to treat female pattern hair loss.
Combined with good hair care habits, treatments like minoxidil help to promote sustainable hair growth and keep your hair looking its best.
You can learn more about the causes of hair loss, common symptoms and treatment options in our detailed guide to female hair loss.