Female Pattern Hair Loss: Why Am I Losing My Hair?

by Dr. Alessia Milano, Naturopathic Doctor

About one year ago, I threw my hair up into a ponytail and I was struck with disbelief.

My hair had always been thick and unruly, but on that morning for the first time ever, I could see through my hair to my scalp. The sad truth is that 40-50% of women suffer from noticeable hair loss that no one seems to talk about.

Women have been shamed into silence about this, and as a result, they’re not getting treatment that could help.

In an effort to bring awareness to this condition and dispel shame, today we’re going to dive into the most common causes of hair loss in women.

1. Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies are rampant in our society as a result of our standard North American diet. We’re eating calorie-rich, nutrient-deficient foods that do not fuel us or support our bodies effectively.

Major nutrient deficiencies reported in North America include iron, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C, E, choline, and magnesium. Iron, in particular, is a very common nutrient deficiency in women that directly causes hair loss.

Hair loss as a result of nutrient deficiencies usually presents with diffuse hair loss all over the scalp, and in severe cases, hair falling out in chunks. If you’re suffering from hair loss, getting a better understanding of your iron status and taking a good multivitamin is a great place to start.

2. Thyroid Conditions

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism cause hair loss. Much like nutrient deficiencies, hair loss in thyroid conditions also presents as uniform and diffuse hair loss all over the head.

With successful treatment of your thyroid, hair is likely to regrow over a period of several months. Keep in mind that just because you’ve had your TSH checked, this does not rule out a thyroid concern.

Knowing your levels of free T3, and free T4 (the hormones produced by your thyroid), are essential in fully understanding where your thyroid health lies. If you’re concerned your thyroid might be to blame, it might be worth your while working with your medical or naturopathic doctor.

3. High Androgens

Hair loss as a result of high androgens (AKA male hormones) is also incredibly common. It follows a pretty distinct pattern of hair loss, in that hair loss is concentrated to the frontal hairline, as opposed to diffuse thinning seen in thyroid issues.

Additional symptoms you may encounter with high androgens include acne, as well as increased hair growth on your body. Women with PCOS are at increased risk of hair loss as androgen levels tend to be higher in PCOS.

To learn more about high androgen conditions in women, check out our blog on Is It Really PCOS here. If these symptoms feel familiar to you, it might be time to do some investigative work.

4. Chronic Stress

Stress makes everything worse, and hair loss is no exception! There are a number of reasons why stress causes hair loss. As a basic explanation, when we’re stressed out, our bodies release more of our stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol sets off a cascade in the body that actually disrupts hair growth.

Elevated cortisol reduces levels of hyluronan and proteoglycans by 40%, both of which are important components in hair growth and maintenance.

Moreover, chronically elevated cortisol can cause insulin resistance over time, causing high androgen levels and hormone dysfunction in women. Finding ways of managing stress are of the utmost importance if you’ve been experiencing hair loss.

5. Major Hormone Fluctuations

This probably comes as no surprise to anyone, but whenever we go through a major hormonal shift, hair is affected. When I say major hormone fluctuations I’m talking pregnancy, post-partum, post-hysterectomy and menopause in particular.

Many women report significant hair loss in the post-partum period and any other “low hormone” period, such as menopause. Hair loss during these times is uniform, with diffuse thinning.

On the contrary, many women report beautiful, thick hair during pregnancy, as estrogen and progesterone levels continue to rise. If you’re going through a major hormonal shift and you’re worried about hair loss, it might be time to work with a Naturopathic Doctor to help support you during this transition.

Although this list covers a good portion of cases, there are always exceptions. If you’ve noticed you can’t tie your hair up anymore, or you can see your scalp after getting out of the shower, it’s time to do some investigative work.

Also remember that if you’ve been struggling with hair loss, there’s no shame in talking about it or seeking help! Hair loss can take time to treat, but there can be improvements when you uncover why it’s happening in the first place.

If you want to learn more about female pattern hair loss, or are ready to start a customized plan, I’m here for you.

Contact us at 416-792-4400 or by using the form below and we’ll book you for a FREE 15-minute phone or in-person session.

  1. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview
  2. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-nutrition-surveillance/health-nutrition-surveys/canadian-community-health-survey-cchs/canadian-adults-meet-their-nutrient-requirements-through-food-intake-alone-health-canada-2012.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27538002
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4094373/