Hair Loss in Women

Did you know that hair loss is a common problem for women? In fact, approximately 40% of women will experience some degree of hair loss in their lifetime. While it can be alarming and cause a great deal of stress, it’s important to remember that hair loss is usually a natural process.

Whilst hair loss can be a natural process, there are also many different causes. For example, it can be caused by hormones, nutrient deficiencies, scalp infections, certain medications and medical conditions. It can also be the result of physical or emotional stress.

Image of hair brush with loose hair strands

Female Pattern Hair Loss

Also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, female pattern baldness (FPHL) is the most common type of hair loss in women. It usually begins with a widening of the part line and thinning of the hair on the top of the head. FPHL can progress to more severe forms, such as complete baldness.

It’s distinct from Male Pattern Baldness because the hair loss in women is usually diffuse, meaning it affects a larger area of the scalp. In Male Pattern Hair Loss, the hair loss is often focused on the front and top of the head – the hairline and the crown.

The hair growth cycle in women is also different from men. Women usually have longer anagen (growth) phases and shorter telogen (resting) phases. This means that women typically lose less hair each day than men do.

Illustration of Female Pattern Hair Loss stages (Ludwig Scale)

Signs and symptoms of FPHL

As mentioned, the early stages of FPHL usually involve a widening of the part line and thinning of the hair on the top of the head. The hair loss may be gradual and get worse over time.

Other common signs and symptoms include:

Hair loss can be a difficult thing to deal with, both emotionally and physically, especially If you’re experiencing hair loss,

Causes of Female Pattern Hair Loss

The exact cause of FPHL is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. Androgens, the male hormones that are present in both men and women, are thought to play a role in the development of FPHL.

3D graphic of blue DNA

Female pattern hair loss causes the hair follicles to miniaturize. This means that the follicles get smaller and produce thinner, shorter, and fewer hairs. The miniaturization of the hair follicles is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors.

While the exact cause of FPHL is unknown, there are several factors that can contribute to the condition, including:

Family History

If you have a family member that suffers from female pattern hair loss, you’re more likely to develop the condition yourself.


Female pattern hair loss usually begins around menopause, but it can start as early as your 20s or 30s.

Hormonal changes

A decrease in estrogen levels during menopause is thought to contribute to female pattern hair loss

Other causes of hair loss in women

Female pattern hair loss may be the most common type of hair loss in women, but there are many other potential causes as well.

Stress (Telogen effluvium)

This is a type of temporary hair loss that can be caused by physical or emotional stress, pregnancy, childbirth, an infection, or a major health event. It usually occurs when there’s a change in the growth cycle of your hair and causes the hairs on your head to enter the resting phase (telogen) too soon. As a result, more hairs fall out than usual and you may experience thinning hair all over your head.

Sudden hair loss can be caused by physical or emotional stress, such as:


Hair loss can also be caused by certain medications, such as:

Certain medical conditions can also cause hair loss in women, including:

Alopecia areata

This is an autoimmune disorder that causes patchy hair loss on the scalp, face, and sometimes other parts of the body. It’s thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system.

Thyroid problems

Both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) have been found to cause hair loss.


This is an impulse control disorder that causes people to pull out their own hair from the root. It usually affects the scalp, but it can also affect the eyebrows, eyelashes, and other areas of the body.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

This is a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods, acne, and obesity. It’s also associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. PCOS can also cause thinning of the scalp hair, which is thought to be due to an excess of androgen hormones.


This is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs. Lupus can also cause patchy hair loss on the scalp as well as diffuse hair loss.

Hormonal changes

Fluctuations in estrogen levels during menopause, pregnancy, and childbirth can cause temporary hair loss. This is because estrogen helps to keep hair in the growing phase (anagen). When estrogen levels drop, more hairs enter the resting phase (telogen) and are shed.

Scalp infections (such as ringworm)

These typically cause patchy hair loss. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect the scalp and eyebrows.

Tight hairstyles (such as cornrows or braids)

Wearing your hair in tight styles can put stress on the hair follicles, which can lead to inflammation and scarring. This can eventually lead to permanent hair loss.

Picture of braided hair from behind

Nutrient deficiencies

Hair loss can be caused by a lack of certain nutrients, such as iron, zinc, and biotin. A healthy diet rich in these nutrients is essential for healthy hair growth.

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. It’s also thought to play a role in hair growth. A lack of vitamin D can lead to diffuse hair loss.

Close-up of multiple yellow vitamin tablets


How do I know if my hair loss is permanent or temporary?

If your hair loss is sudden and/or patchy, it’s more likely to be temporary. This can be caused by physical or emotional stress, pregnancy, childbirth, an infection, or a major health event. If your hair loss is gradual and/or affects the whole scalp, it’s more likely to be permanent.

The only way to know for sure is to see a doctor or dermatologist, who can assess your individual case and provide you with more information.

How can I treat temporary hair loss?

There are a few things you can do to help treat temporary hair loss, but the hair loss treatment will depend on the underlying cause.

Change your hairstyle: Wearing your hair in a tight style can put stress on the hair follicles and lead to inflammation. Try wearing your hair down or in loose styles instead.

Use gentle hair care products: Avoid using harsh shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. Though unlikely to cause hair loss, they may exacerbate symptoms such as thinning hair.

Can you treat female pattern baldness?

There is unfortunately no true cure for female pattern baldness. However, treatments are available to help slow the progression of hair loss and improve the appearance of your scalp.

Be aware that most hair loss medications should not be taken during pregnancy.

Options include:

Minoxidil (Rogaine): This over-the-counter medication is applied to the scalp to stimulate hair growth and prevent further hair loss.

Hair transplant: A popular, yet expensive form of hair loss treatment which involves a surgical procedure to transfer hair follicles from one part of the head to another.

Scalp massage: Gently massaging the scalp can promote blood circulation and may help to stimulate hair growth.

Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP): If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, SMP may be right for you. This treatment involves depositing pigment into the scalp to create the appearance of fuller hair.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): PRP is a treatment that uses your own blood plasma to stimulate hair growth. The plasma is injected into the scalp, where it can help to promote hair growth.

If you’re concerned about hair loss then it’s important to see your doctor to find out the underlying cause. Once the cause is determined, there are treatments that can help prevent or slow down the hair loss. There are also many ways to deal with the emotional impact of hair loss.

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