Menopause is the period in a woman’s life when the ovaries stop producing certain hormones (namely oestrogen) and menstruation ceases. This period of time can cause hair loss in some women. In the meantime, however, there are some easy steps you can take to help minimise the loss of hair during menopause. These steps combine healthy lifestyle changes with alternative treatments, both of which are considered the best approach for dealing with hair loss.
How menopause affects the hair
Menopause can lead to the thinning, breakage, or loss of hair for a lot of women. This is mostly due to the consistently low levels of oestrogen and progesterone and an increased production of testosterone. These hormonal changes lead to the hair thinning and breaking, hair loss, or even sometimes facial ‘peach fuzz’ or sprouts of hair on the chin.
On average, a person loses around 100-200 hairs a day to allow for new hair growth. During menopause, when your hair is breaking, it may seem that you are losing more than the average amount. In reality, however, your hair is not falling out but breaking somewhere along the hair strand itself, giving the appearance of thinner hair.
Other factors that can contribute to hair loss during menopause are a nutrient-deficient diet, extremely high stress levels, illness, or a genetic predisposition.
To maintain healthy hair and minimise hair thinning, breakage, and loss during menopause, keep in mind the following tips.
1. Eat plenty of good foods
Eat a balanced diet that’s full of vitamins and minerals and is low in saturated fat. You should also eat plenty of the following to encourage healthy hair growth:
- Omega 3 fatty acids and amino acids – Seeds, nuts, beans, tofu, soy products, fish/flaxseed/canola oil, poultry, spirulina, and other meats
- Zinc – Oysters, whole grains, beans/lentils, chocolate, and nuts
- Selenium – Nuts
- Magnesium – Dark green veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans
- Biotin – Eggs and beans or lentils
- Protein and iron – Whole grains, beans and lentils, chicken, eggs, fish, red meat, liver, brewer’s yeast, nuts, spinach, kale, wheat germ, cottage cheese, yoghurt, tofu, dried apricots, dates, and raisins
- B vitamins – Eggs, salmon, whole grains, red meat, poultry, liver, pork, nutritional yeast, and tempeh (fermented soybean)
- Folic acid – Spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, pinto beans, lentils, and nutritional yeast
- Vitamins A and C – Dark green vegetables and carrots
- Vitamin E – Avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
- Calcium – Low fat dairy products, e.g. yoghurt or skim milk
- Sulphur – Meat, fish, nuts, legumes, and veggies (especially onions).
Don’t forget to also eat plenty of fruits!
2. Add supplements
Take a daily multivitamin or mineral supplement to get the nutrients you may have missed in your diet and to help replenish key nutrients. Biotin, flax oil, primrose oil, and zinc can stimulate hair growth. Herbal supplements such as green tea can also help to reduce hair loss.
3. Practice stress reduction
Yoga, meditation, and breathing relaxation methods are recognised as effectively easing menopausal symptoms by reducing your stress levels and thus preserving your hormonal balance and preventing you from feeling down in the dumps. You can also get plenty of rest and give yourself a regular scalp massage to reduce stress and promote blood circulation and hair growth.
4. Exercise regularly
Exercise can help in keeping your mood swings in check, maintaining your weight, and helping you sleep, all of which help to contribute to hormonal balance and promote healthy hair growth. You can take a walk with a friend or simply go out in the sun and get moving. This way you’ll feel stronger and happier.
5. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated can keep your skin and hair healthy and also improve blood circulation, which keeps your follicles nourished. It’s recommended that you consume 8-10 glasses of water a day. Some fruits and veggies like watermelon, papaya, cucumber, and celery contain a lot of water that can hydrate your body and provide hair-healthy nutrition.
6. Au naturale is always best
Try to not use hair dryers, straighteners, extensions, and so on so as to prevent your hair from drying, breaking, and falling out. If you have to dye your hair, use an all natural hair colour. Skip a day between hair washes to let your hair build up its natural oils and keep your follicles strong. Let your hair dry naturally and don’t tie it in buns, ponytails, or braids.
7. Nurture your hair
Use a gentle, moisturising shampoo and conditioner when you wash your hair. Choose products that are made specifically for dry or damaged hair that will increase its elasticity. You can also incorporate a weekly hair mask (e.g. egg and olive oil) or hot oil treatments into your routine to further nourish your hair.
8. Wear hair protection
Wear a swimming cap when swimming and wear a hat when you go outside to keep your scalp healthy and promote healthy hair growth.
9. Speak to your doctor about your meds
Some medications can cause hair loss, so speak with your doctor if you think that a medicine you’re taking is making your hair fall out. They could prescribe you an alternative medicine that doesn’t have any reported side effects.
10. Consider alternative remedies
Alternative remedies involve little to no risk and can be very effective at treating hair loss. These include herbal remedies (e.g. phytoestrogenic and hormone regulating herbal supplements) to directly treat the hormonal imbalance, as well as acupuncture and scalp massage to help stimulate hair follicles and regenerate hair growth.
11. Try bio-identical hormone replacement therapy
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), is a popular remedy for menopause as it involves replacing oestrogen that’s lost during menopause, as well as reducing the amount of unopposed testosterone. BHRT basically works to restore hormonal imbalance to decrease your hair from further thinning or falling out.
Keeping these tips in mind can help you keep your hair healthy during menopause and minimise hair loss. Remember to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle to further encourage healthy hair.