Menopause Shocker – Things Got Hairy, Then They Didn’t

About two years ago, I was confronted by the Menopause symptom that shattered my Pollyanna outlook forever. My hair seemed to be thinning at an alarming rate. There was no consoling me when I saw the amount of hair in my brush or around the shower drain each day. So overwhelming was my anxiety over this development, that upon meeting a high-powered, intelligent female friend of my brother’s for the first time, I forgot my social graces completely. I answered her innocuous question "What did you do today?" with a full-blown Menopausal Tourette’s performance. (we’ll address Menopausal Tourettes at greater length in a later blog entry.) "I went to my hairdresser because I’m losing all my hair," I blurted. "Oh god, me too," she gasped. We began an earnest discussion and continued it via email. Our cyberspace conversation was joined by her sister. Here is an excerpt:

Aug. 14, 2006, at 8:15 AM
Lynette and Barbara,
Hope all is well with you both.
Just saw a segment on hair loss. This is not good! It can be hereditary (Barbara, in our case Aunt Edna is not a good sign!), indicator of medical problems (thyroid), a particular disease, menopause, and 10 other things.
They recommend seeing a dermatologist to find out your particular problem, but the real solutions are injections, plugs, Minoxidil (sp?)….or get a wig.
Jeez.
Janet

Aug. 14, 2006 at 1010 am
"lynette@9points.com" wrote:
Hi Janet (and Barbara)
I did a search on the net re: hair loss – came up with much the same. My hairdresser tells me that ALL her menopausal clients that are not on hormone replacement freak out about their hair loss. It stables out (she says) at a certain point, and then hair starts growing back, but never as thick as it once was. My girlfriend Theresa says that was true for her. I AM going to get my thyroid tested again. Also, estrogen dominance can cause hair loss, so a saliva test to check for estrogen vs progesterone in our bodies is a good thing. I doubt that I have this, since I use a natural progesterone cream and no plant estrogens, herbs, or soy. (all of which are natural estrogen replacements.) If you are using any herbs or eat lots of soy, you might want to have this checked.
Bad news with Minoxidil (aka Rogaine) it apparently does not grow nice normal hair but short little hairs that break off, giving one a peach fuzzy look – okay for balding men, not so great for women. Ugh.

I am using a natural shampoo system that was recommended on some menopause blog. Supposedly takes 2-4 months but will grow strong healthy hair. There’s a weird "thing" DST or something like that, I forget (menopause again). Anyway, this substance is secreted on the scalp as we age and it screws up the hair follicle so it can’t grow. Supposedly, this shampoo system blocks the effect of this substance and voila, hair again. (I found out about the DST one place, and read that it is blocked by the shampoo on their site, so it isn’t something the shampoo folks made up.)

My loss seems to have decreased, no big bunches of hair coming out – it’s just really thin now.

The shampoo system I’m trying is called Curetage – I got it from Curetage.com. So far no real hair growth, but my husband says my hair is looking much better. so we will see. I’ll keep you posted re: results.

Plugs and injections do not sound good to me. Wig likewise. oh well, onward.
Keep in touch.
Lynette

Aug. 14, 2006 at 1253pm
RE: The Mystery of the Disappearing Hair
(A Nancy Drew thriller for menopausal girls)

I have watched with both horror and humor – humor? I think not! Well, horror, then -as my hair washes down the shower drain. It started about three years ago, and just when I think I’ll see no more pink, another batch washes away. I used to have bangs – now I just have one bang. Anyway, I read lots of lit, but outside of the obvious (babushkas), there seems to be not much to do about it.I asked my hairdresser, Pat, what she thought of "hair-in-a-can", but, of course, she pooh-poohed the idea. Sounded good to me.
I’ve started to use Nioxin again. I really think if I continued to use it for the last three years, it might have done the trick. It keeps the gook from clogging your hair shafts.
It does not pretend to grow new hair;I’m not sure anything can do that. I had my thyroid tested in December, and it’s fine. So, I’m going to blame it all on Aunt Edna, and Lynette, you can, too. She’s so nice – she won’t mind.
Well, enough nonsense. I hate the whole thing, including the vanity that I was unwilling to acknowledge that I had. We could each buy a wig (blond, brunette, red head) and trade them around each month? Oh, every man’s dream come true…
Over and out,
Barbara

Stay tuned for Part Three of the Mystery of the Disappearing Hair – coming soon. (Adapted from our upcoming book "Venus Comes of Age, The Wit and Wisdom of Menopausal Goddesses".)

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10 Responses to Menopause Shocker – Things Got Hairy, Then They Didn’t

  1. Lynette Sheppard September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    Yes, Menopausal Tourette's is a little known but tremendously embarrassing part of the Pause. At least we'll suffer together!

  2. Lynette Sheppard September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    Hey Janet,

    Actually the news about hair isn't too bad – statistics are up to 40% of women have some degree of hair loss. Some of our goddess group of 15 has had a little thinning but nothing too bad. I'm the worst one, so if our group is a representative sample, only one in 15 should suffer from AGA, androgenic alopecia. Stress causes hair loss, so please try not to worry. You have enough to deal with in the arena of hot flashes.

    Re: hot flashes – progesterone cream initially worked well for me. Then my estrogen levels dropped and they blasted me in my own personal furnace once again. I finally got an estradiol patch (bioidentical estrogen) and voila, hot flash free. Wish I'd done it sooner.

    I started on lo-dose and just decreased it to 1/2 of that. Doing fine, feeling cool even here in the tropics.

    Check out some of the blog entries under the categories "After The Pause" and "Positive Changes" for some actual good news about Menopause. And check out "Menopause and Community" entries for how to create your own goddess group. I'll be posting some more of the good news about the Pause very soon.

    Good luck to you and please stay in touch. I guarantee that it does get better!

  3. Janet September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    Hi Lynette,

    I already have a blog (not about menopause) http://ordinaryjanet.wordpress.com/ and I have enough trouble thinking of posts for that, so I'll pass on the menopause blog, thanks! I'll post comments on yours.

    I've been searching the Internet for info on menopause, I think I'm still in peri, because two years ago I had hot flashes for a few weeks then they went away and last year my cycle was more or less regular all year. I started having hot flashes last month, it didn't take me by surprise, just annoyed me, I thought they'd go away in a couple of weeks, but they're still here. I'm 47. I really hesitated trying the cream, because I know that if I tell my doctor about this, she'll want to do a blood test and the cream would screw up the results, I wonder how long after discontinuing the cream a blood test would show the true results of my hormone levels?

    I didn't want to go on hormones right away, less from a fear of cancer than because I read a fiction book several years ago that dealt with a horse farm that kept mares continuously pregnant in order to get the hormones from their urine, and that disgusted me so much I vowed I'd rather suffer through whatever symptoms I had rather than support an industry that was so cruel to mares. If it's synthetic hormones not from horses, then I'd be willing to try.

    But for now, I'd rather go the natural route and see how it works, or not, before I go through all the hassle of doctor's appointments, blood testing, and pharmaceuticals. My hot flashes are uncomfortable, but they don't last too long and I guess I can tough it out a while longer and see if the cream works before I try something else. I know that not every remedy works for every woman. How long did the cream work for you? Thanks for the info, and is there a particular book you'd recommend? I was thinking of "Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause".

    Janet

  4. Lynette Sheppard September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    Hi Janet,

    It does sound like you are in perimenopause, and as long as your hot flashes are not too debilitating I'm sure you're okay without anything.

    I started the progesterone cream in perimenopause – more important than helping with hot flashes, was the immediate relief from the insomnia. Sleeping through the night is HUGE for me. After a couple years, the cream wasn't working as well, so I supplemented with soy isoflavones which worked until they made me sick. Turns out I'm allergic to soy (it's one of the top food allergens – who knew?). This past year I've had a bioidentical estrogen patch and I've just decreased to 1/2 dose, so may be off it altogether soon.

    I will likely stay on the progesterone cream, however. It is just so great. One of our goddesses is the CEO of Emerita which has a natural progesterone product, and I know her company does not harm animals – I believe it is plant derived, as is the one I use (Natural Woman). I'm going to check it out to be sure and let you know however – that is shocking to keep horses pregnant.

    HMMMMMMM Menopause books – I did like Christiane Northrups book: The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the Change

    as a general info book. I've not read "Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause" but heard good things about it. Another choice is "Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Me?, The Complete Guide to Menopause" – they all seem to cover pretty much the same ground. Which is good, but somehow not enough overall.

    By the way, hormone saliva testing can be very accurate and can be adjusted for whether you are on progesterone cream or estrogen or whatever. Many MD's don't know much about it so they poo-poo it.

    Okay, hope this sheds a little light – keep in touch and I'll check out your blog in the next day or so. (Life's been a little crazy.)

    all my best,

    Lynette

  5. Janet September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    Hi Lynette,

    I think I'm going to stop the cream and see what happens, because I noticed that when I put it on, I get a few flashes for a couple of hours. I'm seeing my doctor next month and I'll see how I do without the cream so I can tell her what happens. The cream reduced the flashes, but didn't stop them altogether. I won't be adverse to trying hormones if I keep having flashes after I stop the cream.

    Yep, I thought it was peri and probably not true menopause.

    Coincidence- My next door neighbor (who is about 10 years younger than me) said her mom uses Emerita-this was before your email mentioning it. She said her mom gets it at Wild Oats Market, so I'll look for it next time I'm near there. I wonder if the cream I got was just cheap? (GNC brand, cost $7.99 on sale).

    Lots of books, it seems. I've put a hold on three at the library. There's a lot on the Internet, too. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Janet

  6. SHARON September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

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  7. Lynette September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    The only good thing is that I live in Hawaii, where all the older women wear hats, so if it gets really bad, I'll be able to cover it up and look normal.

  8. Liane September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    OMG. Menopausal Tourettes is real? I'm not insane? (tic, tic, jerk, jerk….somebody stop this thing!!!! 🙂

  9. Janet W. September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    oh, my God. I'm battling hot flashes and have just begun progesterone cream (suggestion by my best friend) and am waiting for a miracle (stop the hot flashes before I surrender.) Now I have to worry about losing my hair? Is there any upside to menopause?

  10. goodpix September 23, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    My Aunt went Bald not just loosing hair but uncle Fester blad … not a good look for someone who always had hair like Dina Shore on the Chevy commercials … At first I didn't believe her the at one point she was in the hospital and there she was … BALD… I have never had that problem but I have always had a lot of empathy … blad on Mr Clean is sexy on the lady walking down the asile in the store not so much…Wigs I learned from my aunt arn't much fun either when it is a daily Item of dressing …Some things are just not to be taken for granted … like having hair…

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