Hair Loss in Women – Why is it Falling Out & How Can I Stop It?

Hair Loss In Women: What Causes It & How To Treat It

by | Apr 4, 2019

Your hairbrush, the shower drain, that particularly static jacket – it’s completely normal to find strands of your hair coating your surroundings. Over the course of a few years every single one of your approximately 100,000 hair follicles will grow, rest and then fall out.

But how much moulting is too much? And what causes abnormal hair loss?

There are so many potential triggers that can cause hair loss and discovering the specific one is essential in helping you treat it. Here, we explain everything you need to know about hair loss, its causes and how to treat it. 

Is female hair loss common?

According to trichologist Kate Dawes, up to 55 percent of women will experience some kind of hair loss in their lifetime. 

How much hair loss is normal for women? How many hairs do you lose a day?

“It is normal to lose around 50 to 150 hairs per day,” Dawes says. “As we have over 100,000 hairs on our heads, this will not affect the density of hair.”

If you begin moulting significantly more than this or you notice your hair isn’t growing back, that could be a sign something is up. 

RELATED: 8 Of The Biggest Hair Care Myths, Busted By An Expert

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Causes of hair loss in women

1. Genes

If you have a family history of hair loss, genetics could be the cause. This type of hair loss is called female-pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia, and it affects over 50 percent of women as they age. For most women it’s fairly subtle but for around 20 percent of women is can become moderate or severe. It differs to male-pattern baldness in the way it presents. Women experience more thinning of the hair and loss of volume rather than bald patches and receding hairlines.

2. Hormonal changes

Hormones play a significant role in the hair growth cycle. Oestrogen or “female hormones” help hair grow while androgens or “male hormones” do the opposite. Androgens act on the hair follicle, reducing their size and the rate of hair growth until the follicle is no longer able to produce hairs. Genes also come into play here as the extent of hair loss is down to your genetic disposition to follicle sensitivity. 

That’s is why hormonal changes experienced during postpartum and menopause can cause hair loss. Hair loss could also be a sign of an endocrine disorder like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), characterised by excess androgens. 

3. Medical conditions

Aside from PCOS, there are a number of medical conditions that can cause hair loss. These include alopecia areata, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, and lupus.

4. Stress or shock

Hair loss can occur when stress, shock or trauma causes hair roots to be pushed prematurely into a resting state. This is also called Telogen Effluvium.

“[Telogen Effluvium is] the most common cause of hair loss I see in my clinic,” Dawes says. “Telogen Effluvium can be acute – which lasts for less than six months – or chronic – lasting over six months. This is not a permanent hair loss and it can be reversed.”

5. Hairstyles

Hair dyes that lighten hair from its natural colour are the biggest concern due to their high volume of peroxide. Try taking a break from your hair colouring habits for a while and invest in a good conditioning treatment. 

RELATED: Meshel Laurie Opens Up About Her Struggle With Female Hair Loss

6. Medication

There are a number of medications that can cause hair loss including acne medications, antibiotics, antifungals, anticoagulants, cholesterol-lowering drugs, immunosuppressants, antidepressants and mood stabilisers, and chemotherapy. Speak to your doctor about treatment options. 

7. Vitamin deficiency and diet

Hair loss can be a side effect of your body not getting the nutrients it needs. 

One of the most common causes of hair loss in women is iron deficiency and anemia, as iron is essential for producing hair cell protein. If you’ve also noticed fatigue, difficulty focusing, pale skin, breathlessness, and low immunity, speak to your doctor or dietitian as you might have low iron. Another vitamin deficiency that can result in hair loss is a lack of vitamin B12.

“Most at risk are vegans, particularly vegan women who are planning to fall pregnant or who are pregnant or breastfeeding,” says Dr Fiona O’Leary, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Senior Lecturer in Dietetics at The University of Sydney. “If you already eat a varied diet that contains dairy foods, fish, chicken or meat then you are likely getting enough.”

8. Weight loss

A sharp drop on the scales can coincide with hair loss. 

“Poor nutritional intake, crash dieting and poor gut function can cause the body to “starve” the hair of blood, thereby minimising nutrition and oxygen delivered to the hair,” Dawes says. “This in turn upsets the hair growth cycle, causing more follicles to cycle into the Telogen stage of the growth cycle. This is the stage where hair will shed out.”

9. Age

Hair thinning is a completely normal, and unfortunately unavoidable, part of ageing. The aforementioned menopause process leads to hair becoming finer and thinner.

RELATED: Kayla Itsines Opens Up About Her Hair Loss

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How to treat hair loss in women

Female hair loss treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. 

“Female pattern baldness is a genetic, hormonal-based hair loss which can respond well to an oestrogen based contraceptive pill, laser therapy, platelet rich plasma, spironolactone and minoxidil,” Dawes says. “Treatments such as these need to be taken long term to maintain results. Once these are no longer used, the hair loss will resume.”

1. Minoxidil lotion

Also known as Rogaine, minoxidil is applied to the scalp twice daily. About 60 per cent of patients benefit from it to varying degrees – about 15 in 100 users have hair regrowth, while hair loss continues in about one in three users. Its effects start to wear off as soon as it is stopped.

2. Finasteride

Also known as Propecia, finasteride is a medicine taken in tablet form that partially blocks the effects of the male hormones (an ‘anti-androgen’). Propecia has been shown to stop hair loss and promote regrowth of scalp hair in approximately 80 percent of patients after three to six months. The treatment benefits also stop when you stop taking the medication. 

Do hair supplements work?

You’ve no doubt noticed celebrities and influencers plugging the benefits of certain hair supplements but do these treatments actually work? Despite the hype, there’s not much science backing up the validity of beauty supplement claims.

Most experts say that supplements – which often use biotin, zinc, B-vitamins, omega 3s and collagen – can only boost your hair if you’re seriously lacking in key nutrients. So it’s important to see your GP or nutritionist if you feel like you may be deficient in a specific vitamin or mineral.

How to prevent hair loss in women

If you’re worried about lifestyle factors affecting your hair growth, your best bet is ensuring that you’re eating a nutritious diet, getting sufficient sleep, lowering your stress levels and giving your locks some TLC (i.e. put down the blowdryer). 

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8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?