Is your lifestyle making you bald? We look at the common causes of female hair loss

A fifth of women are losing their hair due to a number of factors such as crash dieting, increased stress and processed food, according to a new survey.

A total of 21% of women in the UK are currently suffering from hair loss and thinning and 9% have been affected in the past.

Around 10% of Crown Clinic’s consultant hair transplant surgeon Asim Shahmalak’s patients are female.

They come to him for a number of reasons.

Some have permanent hair loss or thin hair on the top of the scalp and want a conventional hair transplant procedure used by men – either the FUE (follicular unit extraction) method, chosen by 80% of clients at Crown Clinic, or the more traditional FUT (follicular unit transplantation) method, still popular with 20% of our clients and also known as strip surgery.

Dr Shahmalak also offers some specialist treatments at Crown Clinic which are only available at a few hair transplant clinics in the world. We can perform both eyebrow transplant and eyelash transplants to bolster the natural hair in both these areas. These procedures are generally carried out on women who have permanently damaged their brows through over-plucking or pulled out their lashes through the mis-use of stick-on lashes.

So more women than you would think benefit from the services of a hair transplant clinic. But why is hair loss in women a relatively common occurrence?

By far the biggest group to suffer problems with hair loss are women aged 45-60. Hormonal changes during the menopause can cause temporary hair loss which can badly damage a woman’s confidence.

Dr Shahmalak said: “Menopause is a natural biological process that all women experience at some point in their lives. During this time, the body goes through numerous physical changes as it adjusts to fluctuating hormone levels. Many women have unpleasant symptoms during menopause, including hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia. Hair loss is another common occurrence.

Hair loss tends to be subtler in women than it is in men. Most women experience overall hair thinning rather than noticeable bald spots. The thinning can occur on the front, sides, or top of the head. Hair may also fall out in large clumps during brushing and showering.

Research suggests that hair loss during menopause is the result of a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, it’s related to a lowered production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help hair grow faster and stay on the head for longer periods of time. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner. A decrease in these hormones also triggers an increase in the production of androgens, or a group of male hormones. Androgens shrink hair follicles, resulting in hair loss on the head. In some cases, however, these hormones can cause more hair to grow on the face. This is why some menopausal women develop facial “peach fuzz” and small sprouts of hair on the chin.

For women going through menopause, the cause of hair loss is almost always related to hormonal changes. However, there are many other factors that can contribute to hairloss during menopause. These include extremely high levels of stress, illness, or a lack of certain nutrients. Diagnostic blood tests that can help rule out other causes of hair loss include thyroid tests, and/or a complete blood count.

Hair loss may make menopausal women feel self-conscious about their physical appearance, but the hair loss isn’t usually permanent and the hair will grow back in time.”

Hair loss during pregnancy is also common.

Dr Shahmalak said:  “Approximately 90% of your hair is growing at any one time, while the other 10% enter a resting phase. Every two to three months the resting hair falls out and allows new hair to grow in its place.

Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. This is not uncommon, as it affects somewhere between 40% to 50% of women; but like most changes during pregnancy, it is temporary.

Hair loss that is connected to pregnancy usually occurs after delivery. During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase, which is part of the normal hair loss cycle.

This condition is not serious enough to cause bald spots or permanent hair loss. The rise in hormones during pregnancy keeps you from losing your hair. After delivery, the hormones return to normal levels, which allows the hair to fall out and return to the normal cycle. The normal hair loss that was delayed during pregnancy may fall out all at once.

Up to 60% of your hair that is in the growth state may enter into the telogen resting state. After around five months after birth, hair follicles rejuvenate themselves and the hair grows back.”