There have been few studies on the connections between hormones and hair growth (or hair loss). We will focus on the effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) on hair loss for menopausal women.
Hormones are known to impact hair growth and loss. HRT is also helpful for various conditions, such as controlling severe acne, treating impotence, and for people with gender dysphoria undergoing transition.
Does HRT Cause Hair Loss?
HRT can accelerate the symptoms of ongoing hair loss in some circumstances, especially with testosterone treatments. The medicines used to treat libido issues cause androgenic alopecia.
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How Does Hormone Therapy Help Hair Loss?
HRT can help arrest hair loss and promote hair growth in cases where hair loss is related to hormonal imbalances. These instances include women undergoing natural menopause and gender affirmation procedures.
As women age, their bodies slowly discontinue producing two essential hormones – estrogen and progesterone. These hormones promote healthy hair growth, and their absence can lead to hair loss.
Benefits and Risks of HRT
HRT can be prescribed for the treatment of hormonal imbalances from the effects of menopause. While not often explicitly specified for hair loss (known as androgenetic alopecia), it can prove beneficial when hair loss is related to hormone deficiencies. If you are currently on or considering HRT, you should be aware of the potential side effects, including:
- Higher risk of breast cancer with prolonged use
- Increased potential for heart disease and stroke
- Higher risk of death in conjunction with breast cancer
- Increased possibility of blood clots
- Women with intact uteruses may develop uterine cancer
- Vaginal bleeding
- Tender breasts
Before beginning HRT, it is an excellent plan to discuss potential side effects with your doctor and formulate a plan. Evaluate the benefits against the side effects and use caution if you are in the risk groups for heart disease, blood clots, and cancer.
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Patches, Pills, and Creams
For women with post-menopausal hair loss, estrogen and progesterone may be prescribed in a variety of forms, including:
- Transdermal patches
- Creams and gels for topical use
The dosage can vary, and most doctors prescribe the lowest effective dose. HRT is not customarily prescribed for androgenetic alopecia (hair loss) alone. Still, it can be effective in combatting several symptoms associated with menopause.
Not all health insurance plans cover HRT, so it is best to check the provisions of your policy to determine what will be covered. Pricing for HRT can range from under $10 to more than $150 per month.
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Tips to Prevent Hair Loss
When going through menopause, there are several things you can do to minimize the overall symptoms, in addition to lessening the potential for hair loss.
Adding movement to your daily routine helps with more than one area of your life. It can increase overall health and wellness and decrease the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Exercise improves muscle tone, can help lower weight, and helps with circulation. For women going through menopause, it can decrease mood swings, help with bloating, reduce stress, and aid in getting adequate sleep.
Maintaining hydration by drinking water can aid you throughout your life. Proper hydration helps with the following:
- Skin tone
- Hair texture
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Joint pain
We recommend consuming 64 ounces of water daily to maintain hydration. Some people will need more or less depending on body size and activity level. Water works as a cleansing fluid, helping to flush toxins from the body, which also has overall health benefits.
Lower Stress Levels
Stress can create havoc regardless of age. Having a routine of stress-reducing activities and wind-down time can help immensely. During menopause, as estrogen levels decrease, women can experience hair loss, mood swings, anxiety, and other hormone-related responses that increase stress levels.
Finding activities to reduce stress will affect your overall health.
A well-balanced diet is essential regardless of age, but it becomes even more critical as we age. Lower hormone levels increase bone fractures, anemia, weight gain, and bowel problems. Maintaining a healthy diet during the menopausal transition helps your body function better.
Consider Adding Supplements
During menopause, your doctor may suggest adding supplements to your regular diet to increase nutrient absorption and counteract the effects of lowering estrogen and progesterone levels. In some cases, supplements can be beneficial and eliminate or reduce the need for HRT.
Dispelling the Myths About HRT
When your hair isn’t as fabulous as it once was, it can be distressing. You once had thick, wavy locks, and now it’s thinning. We understand. There are many myths surrounding HRT that keep people from trying this method of restoring normalcy during menopause, including:
- HRT causes weight gain
- HRT delays the menopause
- Natural products taken to ease menopausal symptoms are safer than HRT
- You can only take HRT for five years
There are many more myths associated with HRT, but these are the most frequently cited. HRT does not cause weight gain, does not delay menopause, and is not limited to five years of use. Some natural products may be safer or have fewer side effects than HRT, but there is little research to verify the claims.
Getting Help with Menopausal Hair Thinning
If you are considering HRT, contact the Anti-Aging & Regenerative Associates staff to discuss your options.
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