Sunny Day © lynette sheppard

This informative guest post helps make sense of one of the more disturbing symptoms of the Big M:  hair loss.

How to Keep Your Hair Healthy During Menopause
If you’re longing to return to the days of your youth when your hair was thick and full, you’re not alone! You may gain wisdom as you get older, but aging comes with a few potential drawbacks. Your skin starts to lose collagen, your eyesight may lose some of its sharpness, and you’ll eventually say goodbye to one of the defining characteristics of womanhood: your monthly cycle.

Women who’ve spent years suffering from severe PMS or PMDD may be more than ready to step into their second adulthood. For many, however, the reality of menopause is rife with challenges of its own. You’ve heard the stories about hot flashes, night sweats, and irritability (maybe you’ve even experienced them yourself), but did you know hair loss can be a symptom of menopause as well?

Here’s what you need to know about menopause-related hair loss and how to handle it.

How Does Menopause Affect Your Hair?
Every woman experiences menopause differently but, sometime around the age of 50, you may go through the change yourself (if you haven’t started already). In addition to the absence of menstruation, you may notice a wide range of side effects including fluctuating mood, difficulty sleeping, weight changes, reduced sex drive, and more frequent urination. Many of these side effects are triggered by the dropping estrogen levels that are responsible for menopause.
Not only do changing hormones affect your body, but they can also affect your hair. When production of estrogen and progesterone starts to drop, your hair may become thinner and it may start to grow more slowly. You may not lose patches of hair, but many women experience an overall thinning of the hair on their head. For some women, a decrease in estrogen and progesterone triggers an increase in the production of androgens. These hormones can shrink the hair follicles on the head but, unfortunately, may increase hair growth in other areas – you may notice “peach fuzz” developing on your face.

What Can You Do About It?
Though hair loss is the last thing any woman wants to worry about during menopause, it’s completely normal. It may make you feel self-conscious for a while, but the good news is it typically isn’t permanent. There are things you can do to prevent or treat hair loss during menopause until your body adjusts to the changing hormone levels and your hair gets back on track.
Here are some simple tips to prevent or manage menopausal hair loss:
1.  Keep your stress in check. If you feel like stress has you pulling your hair out, it could also be making your hair loss worse. Take time to relax – it will help keep your brain chemistry which could have a positive impact on other aspects of your health.
2.  Make exercise a priority. When you’re struggling with menopause symptoms it can be difficult to muster the energy to exercise, but it will do you a lot of good to get out there. In addition to mitigating symptoms like mood swings, insomnia, and weight gain, activity promotes healthy circulation which is essential for hair growth.
3.  Follow a balanced diet. Build your diet around hair-healthy nutrients. Include plenty of lean protein, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Load up on vitamins A and C as well as iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
4.  Drink plenty of water. Your body can’t function at its optimal level without hydration, so keep a full water bottle by your side. Hydration is also essential for healthy hair, so drink up!
5.  Use the right hair products. Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner is important, but you may need a boost from topical solutions like Minoxidil 2% to help counteract menopausal hair loss as well.
6.  Consider laser therapy. Low-level laser therapy is a safe, non-invasive treatment that can help boost circulation and encourage hair growth.

The most important thing you can do for your hair as you’re going through menopause is to give it a rest. Heat tools and tight hairstyles can damage your hair and worsen hair loss. Limit yourself to products that are good for your hair and scalp and consider simplifying your styling routine for a while until your hormones start to settle and your hair loss slows (don’t worry, it will).

When to Seek Help
The human body can be unpredictable. As a woman, you know that better than most. You should expect to experience some changes in the years leading up to menopause and for a few years after, but there may come a time when something simply doesn’t feel right. If you’re experiencing changes that cause pain, significant discomfort, or disruption of your daily life, don’t hesitate to seek help.
When it comes to menopausal hair loss, here are some signs you should talk to a doctor:
1.  You are losing hair at a rapid pace or in an unusual pattern
2.  You have pain or itching in addition to the hair loss
3.  The skin on your scalp has become red or inflamed
4.  You struggle with extremely dry skin on your head and scalp
It can be challenging to adjust to menopausal hair loss on top of all your other symptoms but find peace in knowing that there are things you can do to prevent or manage it. Follow the tips above to keep your hair healthy and strong well into the future.