Let’s face it — If you’re a woman, you’re eventually going to experience the dreaded “menopause.” Hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, weight gain. And, if that isn’t enough, millions of women experience hair loss during menopause. Most doctors declare menopause as an “estrogen-deficient” time, where a woman’s estrogen level drops by 90%, so there may be even more hair loss after you’ve completed menopause.
The hair follicle, a complex mini-organ with its own blood supply, requires a great deal of metabolic energy to reproduce itself, and it’s one of the most sensitive among all of the organs. That means it is easily affected by even subtle shifts in energy, which can lead to hair loss.
The long-standing belief is that the hormonal imbalances that occur during menopause — when the body produces less estrogen and progesterone — trigger the production of androgens (male hormones), leading to hair loss. This is caused by an increased sensitivity to testosterone, the androgen, which turns into or DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Over time, the DHT causes the hair to miniaturize, until the hair is barely visible. This is known as post-menopausal hair loss.
Before a woman has her last period, she may be “estrogen dominant,” meaning she has too much estrogen relative to her body’s progesterone production. This happens when the estrogen begins to overstimulate the body and the brain. “Estrogen dominance” may occur for 10-15 years, beginning as early as the age of 35, until menopause officially begins. All of these symptoms are exacerbated by stress of many kinds.
Plenty of medical professionals use progesterone therapy for hair loss in menopausal women as a “go-to” treatment. Since progesterone is a precursor to testosterone, it can help inhibit DHT (that tricky little devil that causes the follicles to shrink) and stop more loss from occurring. Of course, progesterone isn’t the only cause of the loss, and there are other things that might be triggering the loss. We will look at those next.
We’re constantly researching ways to re-trigger those dormant follicles as they relate to menopausal and post-menopausal hair loss. In most cases, the hair loss is not permanent. We recommend a comprehensive, holistic approach that includes: lifestyle, diet and scalp health.
There are many things you can do right now to help improve your hair health and quality.
To help with the mood swings and anxiety, be proactive about relaxation. Make it a part of your day; learn breathing and meditation methods to help you. The more stress you have, the higher the cortisol levels in your body. That means the estrogen and progesterone will stop interacting with your cells as they should, leading to oxidative stress, thinning and hair loss.
Extra weight means more stress on the body, leading to further imbalance. Incorporating some exercise into your daily routine will leave you feeling stronger and happier, and more in control of your life. Managing your weight helps prevent some of the other symptoms of menopause. All of these factors are important for maintaining hormonal balance, which promotes healthy hair growth.
Certain foods contain higher levels of phytoestrogens (naturally-occurring plant compounds that are structurally and/or functionally similar to mammalian estrogens and their active metabolites). Foods such as soy, peas, cranberries, prunes, apricots, sage, oregano, flaxseed and sesame seeds are high in phytoestrogens. This doesn’t mean you should never eat them, but keep them to a minimum.
Vitamin B plays a key role in the metabolism of estrogen in the liver. If estrogen isn’t metabolizing properly, a buildup of it can occur, leading to lower levels of progesterone, thus an imbalance. Foods that have Vitamin B include: tuna, salmon, beef liver, ground beef/high-quality muscle meat and cottage cheese. Vitamin C and Zinc are known to be helpful in regulating the production of progesterone.
Insulin resistance has been linked to low progesterone absorption, so it’s important to keep those glucose levels under control. Watch those refined carbohydrates, and instead choose lower glycemic-index foods. You might want to get help from an endocrinologist or a registered dietitian.
Research shows the gut microbiome not only supports the production of nutrients needed for hair growth, but it also supports all of the hormones that control the transition between the anagen (growth), catagen (maturity) and telogen (resting) hair phases required for healthy hair growth. We recommend a high-quality prebiotic and probiotic to keep your gut in good health.
Our bodies must be hydrated to function properly. Load up on water, and pass on the juices, sodas, and flavored drinks that contain sugar and chemicals that are harmful to your body. While the amount of water needed varies from person to person, shoot for eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
A healthy scalp is critical to healthy hair. When there is chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances, our vessels and soft tissue begin calcifying and become fibrotic. Some people express calcification and fibrosis through hair-thinning scalp calcification. This simply makes it more difficult for the follicle to break through and survive, due to hypoxia, poor blood flow and nutrient loss.
Microneedling, which uses nano-needles to create shallow perforations on the skin to create a controlled injury, is the best scientifically validated method to help with calcification. Improvement from microneedling occurs because of the body’s natural healing response to minor, superficial trauma. It is non-invasive, requires no medications, surgery or painful injections.
While we may not be able to prevent all hair loss, we do have more control over our bodies than we think. Menopausal hair loss may be considered part of aging, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can make better choices, and the sooner we take charge of our health, the better.
Follow me on Instagram to learn about our approach to menopausal hair loss or thinning called Cellustrious® Hair Rejuvenation procedure. And stay positive whatever you’re going through.
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