When it comes to hair loss and baldness, there tends to be different rules for men and women. While some men are bothered enough by their thinning hair to do something about it, no one blinks twice when a man walks into a room with a completely bald head or with evidence of thinning hair.
When a woman is beginning to visibly lose her hair, though, the social stigma can be a bit stronger. Although hair loss does regularly occur in women, society has yet to come to terms with that fact. Male hair loss might be upsetting to a man who’s going through it, but female hair loss tends to be even more so.
There are several differences when it comes to hair loss in men and women that go beyond social expectations. Women tend to lose their hair in a different way and may lose their hair for a number of different reasons.
A number of factors and conditions can lead to hair loss in women. Just like men, women can experience hair loss due to DHT, which is created from testosterone. DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink, so that hair becomes thinner and thinner and eventually stops growing. Changes in hormone levels in women can trigger this type of female pattern baldness. The changes can occur during menopause, when estrogen levels drop, or when a woman takes certain types of birth control products that increase the levels of androgens in her body.
Another common reason for hair loss in women is a shock to the system. Known as telogen effluvium, this type of hair loss occurs when the body goes through a major change or trauma. Pregnancy, crash diets and high stress levels can all lead to telogen effluvium. The good news is that this type of hair loss is usually temporary. Once the stress or shock has passed, the hair begins to grow again.
In some cases, the cause of hair loss can be an external force acting on the body. Medical conditions, such as an over or under-active thyroid might lead to hair loss, as can low iron levels. Pulling the hair back into a tight style can lead to hair loss, as well.
Another major difference between hair loss in men and in women is the timing of the hair loss. When a man starts to lose hair due to male pattern baldness, it can start as early as his 20s. Many women who begin to lose their hair due to female pattern baldness don’t see signs of loss until their 40s or 50s. There are cases when a woman might see signs of hair loss earlier, but those are less common.
The Ludwig System
The pattern of hair loss is also different in women than it is in men. While most surgeons use the Norwood scale to classify the degree of hair loss in men, they use the Ludwig scale to classify the degree of hair loss in women. Typically, there are three stages of hair loss on the Ludwig scale. Type 1, the first stage, is minimal hair loss. A woman’s part might look a bit wider than it used to.
The amount of hair loss a woman has when she is at Type 1 on the Ludwig scale can usually be covered by changing her hair style or by other grooming techniques. Type II on the scale usually has slightly more hair loss. A woman’s part is noticeably wider and her hair might look visibly thinner overall.
By a time a woman reaches Type III, the hair loss is very diffuse and noticeable. There might be almost no hair left on the top of the scalp.
Treating Hair Loss in Women
A woman’s options for treating hair loss are in some ways similar to a man’s and in some ways different. Some women see results using a topical treatment such as Rogaine or minoxidil, for example. But, a treatment such as Propecia isn’t suitable for female patients. If a woman’s hair loss is caused by a medical condition, such as a thyroid issue, treating the underlying cause of the hair loss can also treat the hair loss.
While not every woman with hair loss is a good candidate for hair restoration, it is an option for many. Hair restoration surgery can provide a permanent solution for women whose hair loss is related to their genes and to DHT. Women who are successful candidates typically have hair that isn’t subject to loss at the back or sides of their head.
In Virginia Beach, Dr. Kyle Choe is a hair restoration specialist who performs surgery on both male and female patients. He can diagnose the cause of your hair loss and recommend the best course of action for you. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Choe, call (757) 389-5850 today.