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Hair loss in women

Hair loss in women

Androgenetic alopecia, is a type of hair loss that is commonly referred to as male or female pattern baldness. This condition was not really understood until the last few decades. For many years, scientists believed that androgenetic alopecia was caused by the predominance of the male sex hormone, testosterone, which women also have in trace amounts under normal conditions. But while testosterone is at the centre of the balding process, dihydrotestosterone, more commonly referred to as DHT, is now thought to be the main reason for hair loss in women.

DHT, which is a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, is not conducive with healthy and strong hair growth on your head. In short, under certain conditions DHT causes the hair follicles to die. This simple action is the cause of many kinds of hair loss.

Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Scientists now believe that it is not the amount of circulating testosterone that is the actual problem but the level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles. DHT simply shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to grow or survive.

The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women. Under normal conditions, women tend to have a much smaller amount of the level of testosterone that men do, but even a lower level can cause DHT production to bring about hair loss in women.

A way to block DHT

You can block DHT in a number of ways. The enzyme 5-alpha-reducatase is an enzyme that transforms testosterone into DHT, so inhibiting this enzyme can help lower levels. This is how the popular male pattern baldness drug Propecia (finasteride) works.

There are also natural herbs and supplements that are believed to block DHT, and there are certain vitamins that can help as well.

One of the best natural and proven ways is to supplement pumpkin seed oil which conclusively proved to improve hair count after twelve and twenty four weeks due to the effects on inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase.

It is now accepted that when the testosterone levels rise, DHT is even more of a problem. DHT levels can be increased and be within what doctors have considered to be the normal range on a blood test, but they may be high enough to cause a problem with hair loss. The DHT levels may not rise at all and still be a problem if you have the kind of body chemistry that is overly sensitive to even regular levels of chemicals, including these hormones.

As hormones tend to operate best when they are in a delicate balance, the androgens, as male hormones are referred to, do not need to be raised to trigger a problem. Their counterpart female hormones, when lowered, give an edge to these androgens, such as DHT. This imbalance can also cause problems, including hair loss and hair loss in women is generally considered far more traumatic than in men.

Hair loss can also be caused by an imbalance of thyroid hormones or pregnancy, certain diseases, and some medications, which can all influence the growth of hair and hair loss.

Hormones are cyclical. Testosterone levels in some men drop by ten percent every decade after the age of thirty. Female hormone levels decline as the menopause approaches and drop off sharply during menopause and beyond. The cyclic nature of both our hair and hormones is one reason hair loss can increase in the short term even when you are having a long term slowdown of hair loss and a long term increase in hair growth, while on a treatment that controls hair loss.

Which DHT blockers are there?

There are two main licensed treatments for hair loss caused by male pattern baldness, Finasteride (Propecia) and Minoxidil (Regaine).

Who should not use DHT Blockers?

If you are due to have a blood test for prostate specific antigen, ask your doctor for advice as you may need to avoid using Propecia. Women, children or adolescents shouldn not use it.

If you have a heart condition, including angina, ask your doctors advice before using Regaine. If any of the below also apply, you should not use the product.

  • If you have high blood pressure or you are taking high blood pressure medication.
  • If you have a shaved scalp or are using dressings on your scalp.
  • If you are under the age of 18, or over the age of 65.
  • If you are allergic to minoxidil or any other ingredient in Regaine.
  • If you have psoriasis or any other scalp condition.

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Further Information

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