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How is Female Hair Loss Different from Male Hair Loss?

a woman holding hair brush on one hand and her hair on the other hand

Female Hair Loss & Male Hair Loss

Female pattern hair loss is the most common hair loss observed in women than men pattern baldness. Female pattern Baldness is nothing but the thinning of hair loss seen in women. In some cases, the hair loss is healthy and unnoticeable. It can also be more severe in some cases. Female pattern hair loss that is hair loss or hair thinning in women is also known as androgenetic alopecia. Female pattern hair loss occurs generally at the age of 40s, 50s, 60s in some and occurs earlier in some other women. Female pattern hair loss is a continuous process that means women continue to lose hair from their scalp and it can also cause baldness or more hair thinning.

Androgenetic alopecia or hair thinning is the most common form of hair loss in women as well as men. When this occurs in men it is known as male pattern baldness. In men, the hair loss occurs in M shape on his scalp that can cause partial or complete baldness. This pattern of hair loss differs in women from male pattern baldness. 

This condition can lead to many medical conditions like enlargement of the prostate and coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity.  While in women this condition can lead to a polycystic ovarian syndrome known as PCOS which is the hormonal imbalance disease in women. PCOS causes irregular menstruation in women, excess hair growth in facial regions than men, and weight gain.

Causes of female pattern hair loss

The hair thinning in women is caused due to shrinking of a hair follicle that results in thinning of hair and the shortening of hair thus preventing new hair growth. Some causes of female pattern baldness are described below:

  • Aging in women
  • Increased level of male hormones that is an androgen
  • Genetic or history of this condition of baldness
  • Heavy bleeding in the menstrual cycle
  • Due to some medication like oral contraceptive pills.

Androgens are the hormones that are known as male sex hormones and develop before birth and during puberty. Androgen works as a sex drive and regulates hair growth in both men and women. These conditions are known as either male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness.

Symptoms of female pattern baldness

The hair thinning in women or female pattern baldness is very different from male pattern baldness. 

  • In female pattern baldness, hair thinning occurs mainly on the top and crown of the scalp and generally causes widening through the center part. 
  • The front hairline has no effect on this condition and remains unaffected. 
  • As it men there is complete baldness, there is no such complete baldness observed in women.
  • When the androgen level is increased the hair on the scalp remains thinner while on the face it develops thicker than on the scalp.

Hair loss in women can also be caused due to other reasons like malnutrition or surgery, excess stress level, childbirth. This type of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium which is different from female pattern hair loss.

Treatment of female pattern baldness in women

If this condition remains untreated, hair loss in women can be permanent.

Minoxidil is the only medicine approved by the FDA to treat female pattern baldness. Minoxidil is applied on the scalp and this may help hair grow about in four women, while in some women hair loss may stop or slow down. You must continue using this medicine as the usage of medicine will only cause hair to grow or it would return back to hair loss in women. If the medicines do not work on the condition then the hair transplant is the only option left behind.

At the time of hair transplant, the tiny plugs of hair are removed from the thicker or coarser part of the hair and transplanted to the areas where balding occurs. This may cause a risk of skin infection to that area from where the hair is removed for transplantation. Hair transplantation is a very expensive method than medical treatments.

Some side effects of minoxidil are redness, dryness, itching, and facial hair growth. While Propecia and Avodart are used for the treatment of male pattern baldness and is not recommended for female pattern baldness by the FDA.

Androgenetic hair loss or female pattern hair loss have also different names in medical terms. They are:

  • Androgenic alopecia
  • Female pattern baldness
  • Male pattern alopecia
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Pattern baldness

Diagnosis for female pattern hair loss

The hair dermatologist can diagnose or check for hair thinning or hair loss by examining the scalp to check the pattern of hair loss. The hair loss may be due to female pattern hair loss or might be due to some other medical conditions like thyroid, high androgen level, etc. For this, they may ask you for a blood test to verify the exact condition.

Take Away

Female pattern hair loss is generally the widening or thinning of hair from the front hairline whereas in men the hair loss is M-shaped and can cause complete baldness. Proper treatment or hair transplantation is the only permanent solution to prevent hair loss.