There is so much to say on this subject that it is difficult to know exactly where to begin – and what age to begin with. Those of you with thinning hair know only too well how much distress it causes, and not a day goes by in my practice without a distraught woman in despair because of her thinning hair. Not long ago, a popular newspaper reported on ‘The plague of hair loss’ amongst women, arguing that because women have taken a more aggressive (and male) role, they must therefore suffer from male health disorders, of which hair loss is one.
But is there more female hair loss now than ever before? It is impossible to gauge whether there has been an increase. There is no doubt that more women are complaining of hair loss, but this doesn’t mean that there is more. Certainly, there has been a progressive increase in press coverage, making women more aware and thus encouraging more of them to seek advice. The plethora of so-called ‘hair growing miracles’ add to this awareness. With my practice, and that of colleagues, the incidence of women seeking advice has certainly increased, but we can’t compare it to ten or twenty or thirty years ago because there are no true statistics.
I have commented for many years that the incidence of hair loss in females is seriously underestimated and that hair thinning in women is as common as it is in men but without the extreme form of baldness. Indeed, although I have seen a few women with hair loss bordering on male baldness, it is rare.
There was a time, and it still exists to a great extent, when a woman wouldn’t mention hair thinning. It was and still remains (perhaps less so), a taboo subject, with connotations of being unfeminine, unattractive, aging and masculine. Gradually, it seems that women are thinking about it differently. And rightly so.
I would need to have my arm twisted quite hard to give my opinion on the purported extra occurrence of women’s hair loss. Assuming it has been twisted hard, I may give a ‘probably’ but not a definitely. It may well be connected to the extra stresses women are experiencing, which can cause hair loss, but also to the various hormone medications: oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies (HRT). Hormones play a huge part and there has been one outstanding addition to our knowledge recently: PCOS.