Can Androgenetic Alopecia in Women be Reversed?
For women, androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is the most common type of hair loss. It is often called female pattern hair loss and is similar to pattern baldness in men. The condition can come in flares with periods of more prominent shedding which is worsened by stress and poor nutrition.
With age, the number of lost strands tends to increase. Hence, two-thirds of postmenopausal women experience some kind of hair loss. For example, in the UK, 43% of women older than 70 suffer from androgenetic alopecia.
- What Hormone Causes Androgenetic Alopecia in Women?
- What Are The Female Pattern Baldness Stages?
- For Women, Can Androgenetic Alopecia be Reversed?
What Hormone Causes Androgenetic Alopecia in Women?
In both sexes, the cause of pattern hair loss is an inherited hypersensitivity to androgens which is passed to the next generation through a polygenic trait. The hormone responsible for pattern baldness is testosterone, in the form of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This hormone is found in the female body, although the amount of it is about 20 times lower than in men.
DHT directly affects hair follicles causing them to shrink, this is known as miniaturisation. In androgenetic alopecia, women experience DHT binding to the androgen receptor.
This hormone-receptor complex triggers the genes responsible for shrinking hair follicles. Women with AGA have high levels of 5a reductase in their frontal hair follicles, where female pattern baldness starts.
What Age Does Androgenetic Alopecia Start?
Hereditary hair loss can begin in women as young as 12, however, it is more active after puberty. This is due to the hormone shifts during the teenage years. For young women, early hair thinning is significantly distressing.
Androgenetic alopecia worsens again for women after menopause. The adjustment in hormones is responsible for this.
The reason behind these AGA flare-ups is not an increase in testosterone levels but the drop in female sex hormones that creates a shift in favour of the male hormones. Therefore, androgenetic alopecia can start anywhere between puberty and menopause.
What Are The Female Pattern Baldness Stages?
The symptoms of androgenetic alopecia in women is recognisable by the hair thinning pattern. AGA for women has a slightly different pattern to male baldness as it typically starts in the parting rather than the temples (receding hairline).
Androgenetic alopecia in women is divided into 3 main stages:
- 1st stage – A small amount of thinning is noticeable in the parting.
- 2nd stage – The thinning in the parting worsens causing a much wider parting.
- 3rd stage – Hair thinning has spread across the top of the head and the scalp can be seen through the hair.
Therefore, the main signs of female pattern hair loss are the gradual thinning of hair across the top of your head. You may notice more and more hair building up in your hairbrush or increased hair fall when you wash your hair.
How Are Female and Male Pattern Hair Loss Different?
The way the condition progresses in females is different from men. For women, the pattern of hair shedding is dispersed, meaning that the strands start to thin across the whole scalp area.
In the latter case, hair loss begins at the hairline and progresses towards the crown while the sides and the nape of the neck usually remain covered with hair. Thus resulting in a progressive receding hairline. There can be exceptional cases, though, when a woman develops balding patches on the scalp, just like men.
For Women, Can Androgenetic Alopecia be Reversed?
Androgenetic alopecia in women can be reversed if the symptoms are detected early. To reiterate, there is a much greater chance for effective hair restoration where there is less hair loss to restore. Therefore, taking immediate action is important because time = hair!
An article that was published in the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists (SCCJ) studied the benefits of using a rice water rinse for hair growth. The article analysed the hair care routines of Japanese court ladies of the Heian Period who had hair down to the floor from washing their hair in rice water. The proteins in the starchy water strengthen the hair strands and fights against hair fall.
How to Treat Female Androgenetic Alopecia
If your condition isn’t responding to natural treatments, like rice water, then your hair loss is probably too advanced for those methods. Therefore, you will need to use medical treatments in order to get your hair to grow back. There is a fine balance between the right time to seek medical treatment and using natural remedies for hair loss.
We recommend that you speak to our team when you start to notice your hair loss. This is so that we can advise you on the best treatment method for your specific hair loss stage.
Hair Can Grow Back With These Medical Treatments
There are effective medical options to grow your hair back even when hormonal hair loss is the cause. These treatments restore hair in the balding areas:
- Minoxidil – This topical hair loss treatment has been used for years to tackle male pattern baldness. Minoxidil is an effective treatment for women. You can purchase topical Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) over-the-counter in most pharmacies.
It works by stimulating the blood flow to the hair follicles to boost the hair growth cycle. Although it is effective, the downside is that you will need to apply it every day to your scalp daily to see the benefits. As soon as you discontinue use, then start to lose your hair again.
- Hair Transplant – A hair transplant is the most effective and long-lasting treatment for hair loss. It’s a one-time procedure that transplants hair from one area of the scalp to the balding area. These hairs are resistant to the DHT hormone that causes androgenetic alopecia.
A female hair transplant effectively densifies thinning hair and thus combats the symptoms of DHT hair loss.
When androgenetic alopecia reaches stage 2, it can only be cured with a hair transplant. Other medical treatments like minoxidil require a daily application to keep your hairs in the growth stage.
A hair transplant effectively restores your hair in 1 surgical procedure. Therefore, a hair transplant is the best treatment for androgenetic alopecia in women.