Women are at risk of hair loss due to declines in estrogen levels, during the menopause transition. A new study sought to identify the prevalence of female pattern hair loss (FPHL), hair characteristics, and associated factors in healthy postmenopausal women.
FPHL is characterized by gradual thinning at the part line, followed by increasing diffuse hair loss radiating from the top of the head. It can develop at any time between the teenage years and the postmenopause period. However, menopause-related hormone changes have been shown to influence scalp hair, reduce hair diameter, and limit hair growth.
In a cross-sectional study, published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), involving 178 women seen at a menopause clinic, researchers aimed to evaluate the prevalence of FPHL in healthy postmenopausal women and investigate postmenopausal hair characteristics as well as the factors associated with FPHL. Of the women studied, 52.2 percent were found to have FPHL. The prevalence of FPHL increased with age. Low self-esteem was detected in 60 percent of participants which increased with the severity of FPHL.
The researchers additionally noted that a high body mass index (obesity) was associated with an increased prevalence and worsening of FPHL in postmenopausal women. Further studies are necessary to determine whether sex steroid hormones, especially estrogen and testosterone, and a history of polycystic ovary syndrome are related to hair loss in postmenopausal women.
Hair loss can have a significant effect on a woman’s self-esteem and overall quality of life because it affects her appearance and confidence. Because women spend, on average, one-third of their lives postmenopause, more research into causes and treatments of hair loss is critical.