Eva Speakman reflects on her menopause symptoms
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From mood changes and night sweats to skin dryness and a slower metabolism, menopause comes with its fair share of side effects. However, hair loss and thinning are also common during this natural phase, but much fewer people are aware it’s menopause that causes it. Fortunately, there are actions people can take to reduce this, and it starts with a conversation.
Research from Holland and Barrett discovered almost two-thirds of women (61 percent) surveyed said they do not talk about menopause, with 61 percent cited fear of being ‘judged’ and treated differently as the reason.
GP, Dr Nisa Aslam from Aminoscience said: “The menopause and related symptoms are often seen as taboo with both the women experiencing them and those around them shying away from talking about it.
“But we need to move away from the taboo and surrounding challenges to create a more open and honest environment in which conversation about menopausal side effects can take place.
“The ability to openly discuss menopausal side effects enables people to explore solutions and changes that can be made to better support those facing menopause-related challenges.”
Menopausal side effects relating to hair health, however, can be particularly distressing.
Dr Aslam said: “Hair loss, but particularly hair thinning, is a very real problem at the time of menopause, with research suggesting that 52 percent of women aged over 50, globally, experience their hair getting thinner as well as hair loss.
“Whilst women are aware of these hair changes, they may not be aware that menopause contributes to them. Hair loss can be a source of stress, causing more hair loss, and more stress. It’s a vicious cycle.”
What causes menopausal hair loss?
Deteriorating hair health can be a product of the hormonal changes that occur during perimenopause and menopause.
Trichologist and Viviscal Hair ambassador Hannah Gaboardi explained: “During menopause, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone go down. Because these hormones play a role in hair growth, hair loss can occur as they begin to drop. It can also lead to hair thinning and hair that doesn’t grow as quickly as it normally would.
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“A decrease in progesterone and estrogen also sparks an increase in androgens, which are male hormones that are found in women in smaller amounts than in men.
“Androgens can cause the hair follicles on the head to shrink, resulting in hair loss. Other causes can include high levels of stress, as well as nutrient deficiencies.”
Signs and symptoms of menopausal hair loss
A few tell-tale clues will indicate that a person’s hair is thinning during menopause. According to Ms Gaboardi, certain things people should look out for include more hair on their hairbrush, pillow, in the shower or sink drains, and on the floor.
They should also look out for noticeable patches of thinning or missing hair, a smaller ponytail, or actively witnessing hair breakages.
How to treat menopausal hair loss
While hormones and genetics play an important role, there are some controllable factors, like lifestyle and environment, that can stem hair loss.
Ms Gaboardi said: “Make sure you are eating a healthy diet with the nutrients that help promote strong, healthy hair growth.
“These include protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, iron, zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and flavonoids. Getting nutrients from food is best, but supplementation is another alternative.”
Help can be at hand in the form of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein in the hair, according to Dr Aslam.
She said: “More than four in ten people (43 percent) have not heard of amino acids, so it’s unlikely many of us understand their importance for their hair health.
“Amino acids are found in the protein in the diet but for women that may have cut back on meat rich in protein, bridging dietary gaps is vital.”
Aminoscience’s Healthy Hair Food supplement contains key amino acids, such as cysteine, methionine and arginine, which are needed for hair growth, a healthy scalp and hair, as well as collagen, which helps to produce keratin – the main structural protein in the hair.
Dr Aslam said: “This amino acid formulation also contains hair health micronutrients biotin, riboflavin, vitamin C, zinc and iron, with copper needed for normal hair pigmentation.”
While nutrients are a particularly crucial element that will help with hair loss, there are some additional measures people can take to improve hair condition.
Ms Gaboardi said: “Avoid pulling your hair back into a tight ponytail, up-do, or braid, or in any way pulling or twisting on the hair. Doing so can pull on the roots, damaging the follicle, and the loss can be permanent.”
Ms Gaboardi continued: “Wash your hair regularly but not too regularly. While it’s essential to get rid of dead skin, excess oil, and product build-up to promote hair growth, don’t over-dry your hair and scalp by washing it too much.
“Avoid hair care products that contain sulphates, and seek out quality products that specifically target ageing hair.
“Think twice about colouring or bleaching your hair and keep styling tools to a minimum. Blow drying and straightening your hair with high heat settings is quite damaging.”
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