Menopause Hair Loss: Does it Cause Hair Loss?

Kristin Hall

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 6/24/2021

The years when you're 45 to 55  should be the golden era of your life. 

Perhaps you’re hitting the peak of your career, or if you're toward the latter end of that timeframe, considering what you might do with your retirement account. 

These years also coincide with the time when most women experience menopause, plus all the changes this development can bring

While hot flashes and night sweats might get the most complaints, menopause can also cause hair loss. 

Read on to learn more about menopause-related hair loss, and what you can do to manage it. 

What Is Menopause?

Menopause refers to the time in life when you stop menstruating. Typically, menopause is reached when you're of age and you haven't seen your period for about 12 consecutive months. 

The space of time leading up to those months is usually referred to as 'perimenopause' or 'menopausal transition'.

While you're out celebrating freedom from pads, tampons, menstrual cups and other devices in the lead up to menopause, your body is going through a number of changes that cause the typical symptoms associated with this process.

These changes are usually thanks to the drop in the production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which help regulate the menstrual cycle as well as female sexual and reproductive development.

When the ovaries begin to produce less and less of these hormones, you may notice menopausal signs such as the hot flashes and night sweats. 

Other symptoms can include:

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Moodiness and irritability

  • Loss of interest in sex

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Menstrual changes

  • Hair loss

Menopause Hair Loss Causes

The link between hair loss and menopause largely boils down to the hormones estrogen and progesterone, or more accurately, their depletion during this process.

To understand why these hormones are so important for hair health, it’s helpful to examine their impact on hair growth.

Progesterone

This hormone helps improve hair length and density. Progesterone is also able to prevent the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). 

For more on this, check out this guide to female pattern hair loss. DHT is one of the leading causes of hair loss in women.

Progesterone can stop the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) which stimulates  ovulation, yet also  encourages the production of androgens like testosterone and DHT. These promote what’s called androgenetic hair loss.

Estrogen

This hormone can elongate the growing or anagen phase of hair growth. 

This healthy-hair feature is a major reason why women experience rapid hair growth during pregnancy.

Like progesterone, estrogen can also impact the amount of DHT in the body, helping to regulate its effects on hair loss. 

Estrogen also has a leading role in managing actors that encourage hair growth such as cytokines—which are proteins that help cells communicate.

When women experience menopause, they face a hormonal imbalance that causes the supply of estrogen and progesterone to drop. 

When this happens, male hormones like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone increase in the blood—which can then lead to the loss and thinning of hair.

hair loss treatment for women

choices to help keep your hair healthy and full

What Does Menopausal Hair Loss Look Like?

There are tell-tale signs to identify androgenetic hair loss in menopausal women. 

If you fall within the typical age group and notice your hair is starting to thin around the front, back or center of your scalp, you may be experiencing menopause-related hair loss. 

Menopausal hair loss typically affects twenty to sixty percent of women before the age of 60, and can understandably cause considerable distress. Thankfully, there are trusted ways to get hair loss under control.

How to Treat Hair Loss in Women

There are a number of options to choose from when managing menopause hair loss, including: 

Minoxidil

As the only FDA-approved hair loss treatment for women, minoxidil is popularly recommended for improving balding or thinning hair.

Since menopause-related hair loss is caused by androgens, it would follow that any treatment might directly target these hormones. 

However, when it comes to menopause hair loss, minoxidil works a little differently.

This topical treatment which is available as a foaming agent or liquid solution doesn’t stop hormonal hair loss. 

Instead, it helps existing follicles grow hair faster and better, by providing them with the nutrients, oxygen and blood needed for hair to grow

Minoxidil is available in 2% and 5% formulations. You can learn more about how the treatment improves hair growth in this guide on minoxidil for female hair loss.

Saw Palmetto

This treatment is thought to target androgens—and manage hair loss by preventing the conversion of testosterone into DHT.  

By helping to limit  the amount of DHT present on the scalp, saw palmetto is thought to help regulate the hormone’s  ability to cause hair to thin and fall out

It’s important to note that there is still minimal scientific evidence regarding the supplement’s efficacy, so more research is needed.

Spironolactone 

This treatment is another anti-androgen that can help to manage hair loss during menopause by lowering levels of testosterone in the body. 

This usually has the domino effect of lowering DHT levels in the scalp.

However, spironolactone isn’t just any medication you can pop into your local pharmacy to purchase. It requires a prescription from a healthcare provider.

minoxidil 2% for women

hair regrowth drops delivered right to your door.

If Menopausal Hair Loss Happens 

Menopause comes with enough changes, so adding hair loss to the mix isn’t fun. In fact, the symptoms could become  overwhelming.

Fortunately, though, menopause hair loss treatments like  minoxidil, spironolactone and saw palmetto are easy to obtain and can provide you with options to help you retain your youthful locks. 

For best results, consult a healthcare provider to see if menopause is in fact the cause, and what measures might be right for you. 

If you’re not yet of age and are experiencing some thinning, check out this guide on hair loss during perimenopause. You’ll be fully prepared and ready for whatever nature might bring. 

13 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Nichd.nih.gov (n.d) Menopause: condition information. Retrieved from: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/menopause/conditioninfo/default
  2. Nia.nih.gov (n.d) What are the signs and symptoms of menopause. Retrieved from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-are-signs-and-symptoms-menopause
  3. Bhat, Y. J., Saqib, N. U., Latif, I., & Hassan, I. (2020). Female Pattern Hair Loss-An Update. Indian dermatology online journal, 11(4), 493–501. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413422/
  4. Grymowicz, M., Rudnicka, E., Podfigurna, A., Napierala, P., Smolarczyk, R., Smolarczyk, K., & Meczekalski, B. (2020). Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(15), 5342. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432488/
  5. Brough, K. R., & Torgerson, R. R. (2017). Hormonal therapy in female pattern hair loss. International journal of womens dermatology, 3(1), 53–57. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5419033/
  6. Ohnemus, U., Uenalan, M., Inzunza, J., Gustafsson, J. A., & Paus, R. (2006). The hair follicle as an estrogen target and source. Endocrine reviews, 27(6), 677–706. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6908305_The_Hair_Follicle_as_an_Estrogen_Target_and_Source
  7. Goluch-Koniuszy Z. S. (2016). Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause. Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review, 15(1), 56–61. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828511/
  8. Badri T, Nessel TA, Kumar D D. Minoxidil. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  9. Murugusundram S. (2009). Serenoa Repens: Does It have Any Role in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia?. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 2(1), 31–32. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840915/
  10. Levy, L. L., & Emer, J. J. (2013). Female pattern alopecia: current perspectives. International journal of womens health, 5, 541–556. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3769411/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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