Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Thin Is In or Honey, Who Took My Hair
Menopause feels like being forced to attend a horror movie, with unimaginable and terrifying twists and turns. Still, I felt that I did a reasonably good job of keeping my eyes open and not screaming until the climactic “disappearing hair” scene. I was stoic through the storylines of hot flashes, insomnia, memory loss, and more. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
However, when my hair skipped past merely thinning to outright disappearing, I flipped out. Panicked, I ran to my hairdresser for help. She calmly informed me that it was not “unusual”, “probably hormonal”, and that “it’ll grow back.” Ditto from my dermatologist. Only slightly reassured, I surfed the net for causes and treatments for female hair loss. Alopecia. Such a lovely name for such a horrifying experience. I have images of two beautiful (for their age), primly dressed, elderly women with perfect skin and white, thinning (of course) hair sitting comfortably at the kitchen table. One asks the other in her best British accent, “Alopecia, dear. Would you pour me a cup of tea?”
For many midlife women, estrogen therapy and thyroid replacement if thyroid hormone is low will be enough to halt hair loss and promote regrowth. I take bioidentical estrogen and thyroid hormones which have helped with most of my menopause symptoms. Alas not with hair thinning.
It seems I have a common type of hormonal hair loss called AGA which stands for Androgenic Alopecia. (More likely AGA is the sound a goddess makes each time she reveals a little more pretty pink scalp.) The good news? There’s a drug called aldosterone that has been helpful for women suffering from hormonal hair loss- dosage range 100-200 mg. per day. It’s a mild diuretic and blocks the action of testosterone on the hair follicle. The bad news? I can’t tolerate it. Headaches and stomach upset actually trump the hair loss in my case.
However, it is a viable and useful option for a number of women, so discuss it with your physician if you are undergoing menopausal hair loss. (Most health care practitioners are relatively uninformed about this so go armed with info to help educate them- check out www.wegohealth.com for some of the latest internet info on female hair loss. (I had to educate my MD, who is pretty darn progressive and informed.)
So the mourning process over my fragile little hairs leaping off my head has continued. Theresa-Venus claims she went through the same freakout 2 years ago, and while her hair is thinner, she still has enough. Thanks to her and the support of the other goddesses, I’ve been feeling marginally better. I might be able to uncover my eyes soon, but I won’t be wearing any ponytails, that’s for sure.
Scientific explanations notwithstanding, I KNOW what really happened to my hair. My hot flashes fried my hair follicles! I only hope they can regenerate. There is a modicum of good news, however - that bikini wax I’ve been meaning to get for so long? Won’t be needin’ it.
(Adapted from our upcoming book "Venus Comes of Age: The Wit and Wisdom of Menopausal Goddesses". To comment or learn more about our virtual menopause goddess community, visit our main website at www.menopausegoddessblog.org .)