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Although hair loss in men may be more frequently noted, hair loss in women does occur, and has many causes. These can range from things that temporarily affect growth or resting state of hair shafts to conditions that can permanently create hair loss. Women can expect to lose about 100 hairs a day, but significantly more than this may suggest a number of factors. The big causes are hormonal imbalance, certain illnesses, low or high thyroid hormone levels, certain medications, lack of necessary nutrients, and stress.
Hair loss in women may sometimes be attributed to conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This may produce higher than normal levels of the male hormone androgen. Sometimes the only symptom of PCOS is hair loss on the head, or it is combined with growth of hair on the face.
Some women may have genetic predisposition toward early hair loss, which may start being present in their 20s or 30s. This condition, female pattern baldness may result in hair that thins significantly in certain patterns, so that more scalp is apparent. This seldom results in total baldness, but may result in severely thinned hair.
Another common cause of hair loss in women is imbalance of the thyroid hormone. This may be the most common cause, according to some health professionals, and may be missed if the imbalance is slight. Having too much or too little thyroid hormone may accelerate hair loss, and sometimes women who haven’t had loss previously will notice increasing loss of hair when they start taking thyroid hormone. Others find hair loss decreases if they take thyroid medication.
Long illnesses may create temporary hair loss in women, and this can occur up to three or four months after recovery. Illnesses like cancer that require either radiation or chemotherapy will also result in temporary loss. Also, many women note a considerable upsurge in hair loss especially when they wash their hair after having been pregnant. This is common because pregnancy tends to reduce hair shedding, and when pregnancy ends the body may shed some extra hairs at first. The result shouldn’t be noticeable to anyone else, though it may seem like you’re shedding a lot initially.
Other conditions that may result in losing hair include anemia, and also illnesses that routine deprive the body of nutrients like anorexia and bulimia. In fact, people who are dieting, especially when they don’t get enough protein or iron, may notice significant hair loss. Another potential cause may be lack of Vitamin B12, which is difficult to get if you don’t eat any meat or meat byproducts.
There are many medications that may cause hair loss in women. These include many antidepressants, blood pressure medications, high dose birth control pills and blood thinning medications. Medical experts also point to stress as a potential cause. High stress situations may result in hair loss several months after a stress event occurs.
Due to the numerous causes of hair loss in women, if you are experiencing significant hair loss and have not just been through a stressful situation or been pregnant, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor. A lot of the conditions above require treatment, and not just to address hair loss. If you have a poor diet, you have anemia, or your thyroid levels are low, this can have an impact on your body and your future health. Consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor to look at potential causes and get treatment if needed.
I have been told in the past that the products people use can also affect hair loss and its prevention. Many hair products, especially things like shampoo and styling products, have a lot of artificial chemicals that can do awful things to hair.
Additionally, many people wash their hair too often; most of us have no need to wash our hair more than every other day at most, unless you have a very physically demanding job, or one where you get actually dirty every day.
In women especially, things like excessive use of a hair dryer, straightener, or curler can also affect hair loss.
Before you worry too much about hair loss, remember too that the thicker your hair is, the more you shed. I have very thick, curly hair that I keep a little longer than shoulder length. When I comb it out before I wash it, my comb gets full of hair, but there's no visible difference on my scalp.