Dr. Anna Chacon
Female Pattern Hair Loss can be an issue for as many as one-third of all women at some point in their lives, and up to two-thirds of post-menopausal women experience some form of hair loss. For many of these women, the diagnosis is Female Pattern Hair Loss or androgenetic alopecia. Female Pattern Hair Loss can have a very distinct pattern and is easily distinguishable from Male Pattern Hair Loss to a trained eye.
Commonly, the first signs to the patient are seeing more hairs than usual being shed when washing the hair or combing the hair. After a while, this excess shedding can appear as a widening part at the top of the head. The first time a woman notices the beginnings of Female Pattern Hair Loss, changes in the part of the hair such as widening of the part can be the first sign. During an in-office assessment for Female Pattern Hair Loss, your doctor may perform a “hair pull test” to see how many hairs come out when slight pressure is applied to the root.
Your doctor may also use magnified images to count the number of affected or empty follicles in a given area, evaluate the thickness of the hairs, and look for short non-pigmented hairs called vellus hairs. A comparison of the hairs on the top of the head vs the occipital region on the back of the head can also help with a Female Pattern Hair Loss diagnosis, as the hairs on the back of the head tend to remain thicker and fuller.
When comparing Female Pattern Hair Loss to Male Pattern Hair Loss, there are a few distinct differences that emerge. Female Pattern Hair Loss leads to a diffuse thinning of the hair focused on the top of the scalp and rarely comes along with a receding hairline or bald spots, while Male Pattern Hair Loss is commonly associated with a receding hairline and a bald spot on the crown.
Female Pattern Hair Loss also rarely progresses to full baldness, while baldness can eventually happen with Male Pattern Hair Loss.Because the hairline is normally left intact in women experiencing Female Pattern Hair Loss, styling techniques to make the hair appear fuller, changing the part in the hair, or opting for shorter hair cuts can help disguise the thinning somewhat. However, getting a medical opinion is the best route to address the condition.
Over-the-counter options like Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine) or prescription medications like Spironolactone may be recommended by your doctor depending on your presentation and medical evaluation. Your doctor can also help identify if other causes of hair loss may be at play including anemia, thyroid disorders, scalp issues, or underlying conditions.
If you suspect that you may be experiencing Female Pattern Hair Loss, or you have noticed more hair shedding and a widening part, the sooner you can be evaluated by a doctor in person or through an online telemedicine consultation, the better off your hair will be long term.