Hair Loss in Women: The Causes of Excessive Hair Loss in Women

Skin complaints due to stress
I regularly receive emails from women who are (sometimes) almost panicked: “Marjolein, I suffer from extreme hair loss. Help, what can I do before I am completely bald?” For that reason an article about more than normal hair loss in women.

Hair loss? You’re not the only one

It probably won’t give you any comfort, but you’re not the only woman who at some point is afraid that she’s going to be bald as a billiard ball, when she looks at the number of hairs in her hairbrush. After the menopause, as many as 40% of women suffer from thinning of the hair. Becoming thinner certainly does not mean that you are going bald. But no woman wants to lose her head of hair and I think we’ve all seen a woman with hair so extremely thin that you could see her skull well. We do not wish that on any woman and certainly not ourselves. However? Fortunately, there is a big difference between ‘normal’ hair loss and ‘extreme’ hair loss, although many women quickly find that they fall into the ‘extreme’ category. And I think we all understand that as women.

Really extreme hair loss: usually alopecia

Really extreme hair loss are the different forms of alopecia. There may be bald spots on the scalp or even general baldness, also elsewhere on the body. Alopecia probably belongs to the autoimmune diseases, which means that the body attacks itself. In alopecia, the hair root follicles are attacked, causing the hair to fall out. Androgenetic alopecia is a form in which there are no bald spots but diffuse baldness; spread over the top of the head in particular. (For more information, visit  the website of the alopecia association )

Another form of baldness is called telogen efflivium. Here too, there is diffuse hair loss all over the head. This can develop acutely or slowly. These causes are diverse including many which I will mention below. ( For more information on telogen efflivium, click here. )

Of course, both forms of extreme baldness start with an alarming amount of hair in your hairbrush. This does not mean that you have one of these extreme forms of hair loss. It is also possible that as a result of the menopause you (temporarily) get a somewhat thinner head of hair. But regardless of what it is, you would prefer to take action today, I guess.

Is the drop in female hormones the cause?

Because many women in the menopause suffer from thinning hair, it is often said that this is due to the decrease of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Because these female hormones decrease in your body, there is relatively more testosterone. This is the male hormone that could possibly cause female hair loss. In my opinion this is too short sighted.

All women, without exception, experience declining levels of estrogen and progesterone during the menopause. And you probably know, like me, women who still have an enviable thick head of hair despite the menopause. In addition, 60% of women in the menopause do not suffer from excessive hair loss. It is therefore not obvious that the drop in our female hormones is the cause. However, this is not to say that it cannot be the result of hormonal changes in your body. But it’s probably something else.

The causes of excessive hair loss in women

The causes of excessive hair loss can be very diverse. Factors that are often mentioned are excessive stress or trauma. Hair loss does not have to occur immediately, it can also occur after the stressful period has already passed. Think of undergoing surgery or a serious infection, which is also a form of stress for your body. So go back in time, about six months, and consider whether stress could be the cause.

All kinds of diseases or certain drugs can also lead to hair loss; read the small print on the package insert if you are taking any medication. NB; the pill is also a medicine and can suddenly lead to baldness. Thyroid problems that lead to metabolic problems can also be a causeSkin problems and then of course problems with your scalp can be the underlying reason. Also think about excessive use of chemical hair dye products or other unnatural forms of hair treatment.

However, what is often overlooked is that crash diets and all other forms of one-sided diets are also a major cause of excessive hair loss. In this case, your hair loss is a symptom of malnutrition. My advice: don’t think too quickly that this won’t be the case with you.

Your hair is the first to turn

A vet can tell by the coat of an animal how sick or healthy it is. All cells in your body need nutrients that they must get from your diet. Nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace elements and thousands of other known and unknown substances. To keep you alive, the cells of your vital organs such as your heart, lungs and liver are much more important than the cells of your hair follicles. If your body lacks nutrients, these will first be used for your vital organs, not for your nails, skin or hair. Lack of adequate nutrients is a major cause of excessive hair loss in women that is often overlooked or underestimated.

So make sure you have plenty of nutrients on your plate

Your body needs a wide variety of nutrients. What is often mentioned in hair loss is a lack of vitamins A, B6, B8 (=biotin) and B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid, iron, copper, silicon and zinc. Vitamin E is also mentioned, but that is still scientifically controversial. If you are deficient in certain vitamins that your hair is falling out, then you have usually already received signals from your body that something is wrong and that your health is giving up. Is that right?

Your first source of nutrients is, of course, the food on your plate. Therefore, eat as much unprocessed food as possible, lots of vegetables (partly raw) and fruit, unroasted nuts, seeds and kernels, gluten-free grains, legumes, germs, organic eggs and to a limited extent (white) meat and fish. Your body needs a healthy gut to absorb nutrients. Therefore, limit substances that can irritate your gut: be critical of sugars, dairy and gluten and be careful with coffee and alcohol. Alopecia is now also associated with insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. So keep your blood sugar level as constant as possible.

Supplement with supplements if possible

Vitamins and minerals always work together; therefore, when taking supplements, it is always advised to do so with meals. If you have the feeling that you have been deficient in nutrients for a long time, choose a good, orthomolecular multi with vitamins and minerals. You can supplement this multi with a good vitamin B complex combined with extra biotin (B8). Vitamin C and vitamin D are also part of the basic supplement for women, regardless of whether your hair is falling out or not. If you suffer from heavy menstrual periods, supplementing with iron can still be recommended, together with vitamin C. Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron.

Taking supplements is not a panacea and it also takes time before you see results. Especially when it comes to your hair. That is why other forms of “supplementation” in the form of sufficient sleep, exercise and relaxation are at least as important. You can safely take an overdose of this and results can be felt within a few loss

In the end it’s always about your hormones

Too much stress, too little relaxation and exercise, too much sugar, a fluctuating blood sugar level, poorly functioning intestines, too few nutrients, too many hormone-disrupting substances: it all affects your hormone balance. A hormone balance that can easily be thrown out of balance in women, especially if you are going through the menopause. For that reason, extreme hair loss can indeed be the result of a hormonal imbalance. Therefore, pay close attention to hormone-disrupting substances in your environment (including your cosmetics, hair and other care products). Finally, two herbs that can help you get your hormones back in balance.

One herb that is widely used for baldness is saw palmetto. It is now increasingly used in female hormonal imbalances. The same goes for the superfood maca.

If you want more clarity about nutrients that you may be deficient in, request a blood test from an (orthomolecular) doctor (be aware that not everything will come up with this). A hair analysis may reveal a mineral deficiency or accumulation of it. If you really have extreme hair loss, you can contact a dermatologist and look for the cause together. On the website of the hair foundation you will find more information and  addresses of dermatologists.  Be aware that drugs are never the real solution. Therefore, finally, an inspiring story as you are used to from me.

“Why, learn to live with it?” An inspiring story

Molly Vazquez started having bald spots on her head when she was 12 years old. Within months she was bald. Doctors told her she had the autoimmune disease alopecia and that she would have to learn to live with it. Because she got it at such a young age, the doctors considered the chances of her getting hair back to be negligible. Molly decided not to accept this. She convinced her parents that they had to eat much healthier and together with her mother she removed as many endocrine disrupting substances (cosmetics, household products) from the house as much as possible. She also ensured adequate sleep, exercise and drank plenty of water. The impact on her family was immense and as a bonus she got so much hair that she now regularly asks the hairdresser to thin her hair out.

You can do much more yourself than you think! go for it!


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