There was a time when hair loss in females was classified as androgenic alopecia. However, we now know that female hair loss has its own causes and is classified as female pattern baldness. This broader term encompasses many causes, some of which are linked to testosterone and some of which are not. The cause of female pattern baldness is still not completely understood, but we know many other types of enzymes, as well as hormone receptors and blockers, may be at work in women.
One clue that there is a true difference between male and female balding is the pattern in which the hair loss occurs.
Female pattern baldness occurs all around the top of the head, and it’s diffuse, whereas men lose hair on the temples, the crown and the back of their heads. Not coincidentally, the hormone and enzyme receptor sites in women and men are also different in varying areas of the scalp – another reason doctors now believe the loss patterns are caused by different precipitating factors.
Another important difference is that while balding in men is almost always the result of a genetic predisposition coupled with age, in women, it can happen anytime. In addition, for women, underlying medical conditions can also be the cause of hair loss, even when true androgenic alopecia is the diagnosis.
Often these women are also suffering with polycystic ovary syndrome, and sometimes their hair loss is the only obvious sign. As well, autoimmune disorders can cause a diffuse thinning in female hair.
Still others can develop a temporary hair shedding problem known as telogen effluvium – a change in the natural hair growth system that often follows childbirth, crash dieting, surgery or a traumatic emotional event.
Also, thyroid disorders, anemia, even chronic illness or the use of certain medications, can also cause hair loss in women, and these problems often go undiagnosed.
When we first see female patients at the Toronto Hair Transplant Surgeons, we always want to rule out any possible medical problems that you have assessed with your family doctor before we recommend possible treatments and certainly before considering a transplant as an option.
We have treated and advised many women with hair loss and, in some cases, hair transplantation may not be the best treatment option. A consultation will allow Dr. Huber or Dr. Jones to assess your current status, review your pathology test results and advise you of a hair loss treatment program that considers both your current and future hair loss.