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Hair Loss in Women Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, MD · Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated May 28, 2021

Hair Loss in Women Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Excessive hair loss in women causes a certain level of distress. Normally, women lose about 80 strands of hair per day, that is why you find them almost everywhere! There are strands on your hairbrush, pillows, and even bathroom drains. However, if you feel that you lose more than that and you see that they are not growing back, here is what you can do to stop it!

Women Can Lose Their Hair, Too

According to reports, one-third of women experience hair loss at some point in their lives. Two-thirds of menopausal women, on the other hand, suffer from hair-thinning or even bald spots.

The bottom line is hair loss or alopecia also happens to women. It is a condition not exclusive to men.

However, many experts indicate that women may have it harder if they experience noticeable hair loss. After all, it’s more “socially acceptable” for men to go bald, especially as they age. On the other hand, excessive hair loss in women may negatively affect their emotional health and quality of life.

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Hair Loss in Women Causes

Before we explain the possible ways to prevent severe hair loss in women, let us talk about the causes first. Generally, five things can cause hair loss in women:

Androgenetic Alopecia

Like men, ladies can also experience female-pattern hair loss (FPHL). Heredity and family history causes FPHL which results in the thinning of hair on top of the head. It is also worth noting that this condition gets worse after a woman reaches menopause.

Female-pattern hair loss is also called “androgenetic alopecia,” because it is connected to the hormone, androgen. Although androgen is essentially a male hormone, women also have it at a lowered level. This hormone is crucial for normal sex development, but it is also important for both sexes for functions like hair growth regulation and sex drive.

Seeing that severe hair loss in women causes a great deal of concern, we might as well discuss what happens in FPHL.

In androgenetic alopecia, two things cause hair loss:

  • A shortened anagen. Anagen is the part of the hair’s life cycle where the hair grows. Typically, it lasts for 2 to 7 years, but with FPHL, it’s shorter.
  • Lengthened hair growth time. With androgenetic alopecia, there’s a long time between hair-shedding and anagen. This means that it takes longer for the hair to grow back.
  • Despite this, experts agree that it is hard to determine the precise role of androgen in FPHL in women.

    Severe Stress or Shock to the Woman’s Body

    Aside from FPHL, extreme stress or shock is also one of the causes of hair loss in women. Please note that the “stress” or “shock” can come from a variety of reasons, including:

    • Losing a lot of weight
    • Undergoing surgeries
    • Giving birth
    • Traumatic or stressful events in life (depression, loss of a loved one)

    The good news is, hair loss caused by stress or shock is often temporary. However,  it may take weeks to months before the hair fully comes back.

    Hair Style

    Believe it or not, but hairstyle causes hair loss in women, too, especially if the style “pulls the hair from their roots.’ This hair loss is called traction alopecia.

    One clue to see if a hairstyle may cause hair loss is to check if it is too tight. If it is, even simple styles like braiding and ponytails may cause hair loss.

    What is worse is, according to experts, if the hairstyle damages the hair follicle, the loss may be permanent.

    With that said, if hair loss in women causes you distress, you might as well mind how you style your hair.

    Toxic Substances or Some Medications

    Toxic substances and medications could also cause hair loss in women. For instance, cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy may lose their hair in the process.

    Although hair loss caused by substances and medication could be temporary, it could also be permanent if the substance damaged the follicles.

    Medical Conditions

    And finally, some medical conditions result in alopecia. It is one of hair loss in women causes. For instance, a condition called alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, results in bald spots on the head and other parts of the body. Usually, though, it is not permanent.

    Hair loss is also one of the signs of hyperthyroidism. It’s best to consult your doctor.

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    Treatment for Hair Loss in Women

    If noticeable hair loss in women causes great concern, it is only natural to look for treatment options. The following could treat alopecia:


    Originally introduced as a medication for hypertension, the US FDA approved over-the-counter minoxidil as a treatment for hair loss in women. This happened after several studies proved that direct minoxidil application on the scalp could stimulate hair growth. As of now, there are 6% minoxidil applications available in the market, although they may need a doctor’s prescription.


    For FPHL, if minoxidil alone will not work to grow the hair back, it is possible to use it together with anti-androgen drugs. The idea is since androgen could accelerate hair loss, anti-androgens might help.

    Iron supplement

    In some instances, iron deficiency may be one of the hair loss in women causes, especially if you are suffering from heavy menstrual flow, anemia, or if you are a vegetarian. However, if your iron level is normal, it is not advisable to take iron supplements as it could only result in side-effects like constipation and upset tummy.

    hair loss in women causes

    Natural Treatment for Hair Loss in Women

    Aside from the treatments above, you can also try some natural hair loss treatments, which include:

    Aloe vera

    A common treatment to address hair loss in women causes is aloe vera. It cleanses the scalp of dirt that might prevent hair from growing back. Additionally, it also promotes scalp health by moisturizing it which can increase the possibility of hair growth.

    Onion juice

    Results of one study showed that applying onion juice to the scalp twice daily for six weeks supports hair growth. This is after 20 out of 23 participants reported positive results.

    Coconut milk

    One reason why many shampoos use coconut milk as one of their ingredients is that coconut milk moisturizes the scalp. According to experts, one of the hair loss in women causes is scalp damage due to dryness.

    There is no doubt that severe hair loss in women causes great concern over aesthetics and health, so the best course of action is to talk to your doctor. They will help you ascertain the root cause and formulate possible treatment options.

    Learn more about Women’s Health here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mia Dacumos, MD

    Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated May 28, 2021

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