Many women will experience some form of hair loss as they age. Female hair loss often occurs postpartum as the body reacts to the stress of delivery and hormone changes. However, as women get older, they encounter shedding that is frequently associated with stress both physical and psychological. Menopause and other imbalances that can result in an increased sensitivity to hormones that can result in the thinning of scalp hair.
Female pattern hair loss, also known as female androgenetic alopecia, is a common and perplexing clinical problem. The most common pattern of female hair loss is the thinning of hair over the top area of the scalp with the retention of the frontal hairline. The causes of female pattern hair loss are complicated, involving hereditary factors as well as individual sensitivity and susceptibility to male hormones called androgens. Genetics play a large role for hair loss in both men and women, and these traits are typically inherited from either parent. Most of the time the hormone levels are normal in the blood, but there is an end-organ sensitivity that allows an increased conversion of testosterone in to the active form called 5-hydroxy testosterone. The slow reduction in estrogen compared with the fairly constant level of testosterone results in a relatively increased impact of the androgen. Hair loss is a stressful experience for both sexes, but possibly more distressing for women. In comparison to women with normal scalp hair, women with androgenetic alopecia tend to have more social anxiety, poorer self-esteem, less of a sense of control over their lives, and a less satisfying quality of life.