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Menopause Month | Let’s get scientific with Iain Sallis MIT

April 15, 2022

IAIN SALLIS MIT, Consultant Trichologist for Racoon International, explains what happens to hair during the Menopause…

Menopause Month | Let's get scientific with Iain Sallis Mit 1

For some women the Menopause is dominated by a reduction in hair volume, this can be for several reasons, but mainly it’s due to hormones and genetics.

Firstly the genetics…
Androgenetic alopecia is the medical term for genetic hair loss (also sometimes known as Female Pattern Hair Loss or FPHL), and this is when the hair miniaturises when influenced by circulating testosterone.

You have to be genetically predisposed for this to happen. Take a look at your family, remember what your mother’s, father’s or grandparents’ hair was like, were any of them thinning? If so it is likely you have the potential for your hair to thin genetically. But don’t worry…most of us have this gene, but it is a spectrum, so this alone does not mean you are going to lose your hair!

There are two main hormones at play with a women’s hair: Oestrogen and Testosterone. It’s easy to think of Oestrogen as ‘good’ for hair and Testosterone as ‘bad’ but it is not that simple. Oestrogen is better to be thought of as a buffer to Testosterone, the hormone that (if genetically pre-disposed) causes the hair to thin.

Oestrogen naturally reduces in the women’s body during the menopause, and so Testosterone takes more of an effect as there’s nothing to counter it. This may start the genetic thinning process but it is usually not an overnight problem and may slowly manifest itself over years.

Scientific treatments…
HRT may give some women a respite but we have to be careful as this may hinder as much as it may help. But there are hair friendly HRT treatments out there.
Be as healthy as possible and ensuring a diet rich in protein will also help.

Hair thinning can also be exacerbated by some long-term medications such as statins, long term blood pressure tablets etc… so getting fit and staying healthy should be a priority. The fitter someone is, the better their hair will grow, boring but solid advice!

“Most of us have the hair thinning gene, but it is a spectrum, so this alone does not mean you are going to lose your hair!”