Postmenopause Hair Loss: Causes & Treatment

Hot flashes, moodiness, hair loss—oh, what a joy menopause can be. Sarcasm aside, the first two symptoms tend to go away on their own once you’re through with menopause. 

But post-menopause hair loss? Well, as its name implies—it can stick around—unless you do something. 

So, why do women experience hair loss during this time of life? Read on and we’ll give you the scoop, along with what you can do about it.

What Is Menopause? 

Before diving into how menopause can cause hair loss, it’s important to understand what menopause actually is. 

A woman is considered to be in menopause 12 months after her last period. 

Most women go through this between the ages of 44 and 55. Women who smoke tend to go through menopause earlier than those who do not.

Leading up to this transition, many women experience hot flashes, mood swings and changes in their monthly cycle, among other symptoms. This period is called perimenopause.

Menopause occurs because a woman’s ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone—two hormones key to menstruating.

The Connection Between Postmenopause and Hair Loss

After the hot flashes subside and the mood swings stabilize, many post-menopausal women notice they’re left with thinning hair. So, what gives? 

Estrogen and progesterone are connected to hair growth and health. So, as these hormones decline, it can affect your hair health. 

Plus, your sensitivity to male hormones like testosterone may increase. 

Testosterone can attach to androgen receptors in the hair bulb and the dermal papilla which regulates hair growth. This can shrink your hair follicles.

Sometimes this testosterone will also be converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can also attach to androgen receptors and cause hair loss.

When this happens, it’s called androgenetic alopecia or female pattern hair loss. This type of hair loss can happen to women as early as their 20s, but it’s much more common post-menopause.

When dealing with androgenetic alopecia, most women notice overall thinning across their entire scalp rather than in specific locations (which is how men often experience it).

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How to Treat Postmenopausal Hair Loss

The good news: There are steps you can take to combat post-menopause hair loss. . Below, we’ve listed some of the most common treatment options. 

To figure out what’s best for you, talk to a healthcare professional. 

Spironolactone

A healthcare provider may prescribe you the acne drug spironolactone to deal with your hair loss or thinning. 

Spironolactone works by preventing testosterone from turning into DHT. It also slows the production of androgens, which will prevent or slow post-menopause hair loss.

Minoxidil 

Another medication option you could try is topical minoxidil for women. Minoxidil is FDA-approved and is sold under the brand name Rogaine®. 

It comes in a 2% solution or 5% foam.

Wondering how topical minoxidil works? It sends a signal to your blood vessels to open so that more nutrients and oxygen can get to the hair to improve its health. 

It also extends the growth period, which means more follicles are created to replace lost hair.

Good Hair Habits

Promote new growth and prevent further damage by introducing some healthy hair moves into your routine and nixing any bad habits you may have. These tips will help!

  • Dry, brittle hair is more likely to break, so use a conditioner after every shampoo to keep hair hydrated. Some research has shown that hair care ingredients like saw palmetto can help fight DHT.

  • Skip the hair dryer! Letting your hair air dry whenever possible can scale back damage. And, when you do have to use hair tools, make sure they are on the lowest heat setting. 

  • Further prevent breakage by skipping tight ponytails and buns and opting for looser styles. 

  • If you wear a weave or extensions, look for ones that are light and do not pull on the root.

  • If you dye your hair, add more time between touch-ups and avoid doing multiple services (like coloring, relaxing or perming) at once. Ideally, you’d wait at least two weeks between each service. 

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There’s Hope for Post-Menopausal Hair Loss

As you can see, there are plenty of hair loss treatment options available if you’re dealing with hair loss due to hormonal imbalances after menopause.

The first step to actually addressing your female pattern hair loss? Talk to a healthcare provider to determine which option is right for you. 

They will have the training and skills necessary to assess what’s going on with your hair and what will be the most effective way to treat it and encourage new hair growth.

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.

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  2. Earlier Age at Menopause, Work, and Tobacco Smoke Exposure, (Nov-Dec 2008). Menopause, 15(6): 1103-8. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18626414/
  3. Menopause. Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/menopause.html#:~:text=Menopause%20is%20the%20time%20in,a%20period%20for%20one%20year
  4. Grymowicz, M., Rudnicka, E., Agnieszka, P., et al. (2020, August). International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21(15): 5342. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432488/
  5. Goluch-Konluszy, Z., (2016, March). Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause). Menopause Review, 15(1): 56–61. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828511/#:~:text=DHT%20hormone%20weakens%20hair%20follicles,suffer%20from%20this%20%5B4%5D
  6. Islam, R., Bell, R., Green, S., Davis, S. (2019). Effects of testosterone therapy for women: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol. Systematic Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329173/
  7. Brough, K., Torgerson, R., (2017, March). Hormonal therapy in female pattern hair loss. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology 3(1): 53-57. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5419033/
  8. Ho CH, Sood T, Zito PM. Androgenetic Alopecia. Updated 2020 Sep 29. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/
  9. Burg, D., Yamamoto, M., Namekata, M., Haklani, J., Koike, K., & Halasz, M. (2017). Promotion of anagen, increased hair density and reduction of hair fall in a clinical setting following identification of FGF5-inhibiting compounds via a novel 2-stage process. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 10, 71–85. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5338843/
  10. Androgenetic alopecia: MedlinePlus Genetics. (2020, August 18). Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/androgenetic-alopecia/#causes
  11. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., Leerunyakul, K., (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Design, Development and Theory, 13: 2777-2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/#:~:text=Minoxidil%20is%20a%20common%20medication,as%20increasing%20body%20hair%20growth
  12. How to stop damaging your hair. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/stop-damage
  13. Marks, L. S., Hess, D. L., Dorey, F. J., Luz Macairan, M., Cruz Santos, P. B., & Tyler, V. E. (2001). Tissue effects of saw palmetto and finasteride: use of biopsy cores for in situ quantification of prostatic androgens. Urology, 57(5), 999–1005. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11337315/

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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