Hair Loss in Women

Hair loss in women is far less common than in men. Not only that, but the pattern of hair loss in women is typically different too. Whereas men tend to lose hair from front to back, women lose it due to a gradual thinning of hair over the entire scalp. Like with men, the greatest predictor of hair loss in women is family history or genetics. If a woman's female relatives have thinning hair, it's more likely they will too.

In men, the Norwood Classification Chart is used to indicate stages of hair loss. Because women's hair loss patterns are different, a different chart is used, called the Ludwig Classification Chart:

Ludwig Classification Chart

Aside from genetics, female hair loss can also come from diseases and medical issues such as thyroid diseases, anemia, severe weight loss, and an increase in hormones such as testosterone. Women going through menopause are more prone to hair loss due to the substantial change in hormone levels.

Because hair loss in women is uncommon, it can be particularly hard to deal with. Most people expect men to lose some hair or develop a "mature hairline" with age, but in women both the typical type of hair loss pattern and the rarity of the condition make it more noticeable and not as well accepted by society. Unfortunately, the majority of medications and treatments that work for men do not work for women. Therefore, the best option for treatment is a hair replacement system or wig.

Medication for Hair Loss in Women

There are two hair loss medications that work specifically for women. However, these medications may have serious and unacceptable side effects. The first is Aldactone (spironolactone), originally used for high blood pressure. Some studies have shown Aldactone to reduce hair thinning and loss in women, however the side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding are serious. Another drug that only works for women is cyproterone acetate. This drug has been shown to both decrease unwanted hair and decrease female pattern hair loss. Side effects include liver toxicity and potentially blood clots. A better option for women, which also works for men, is Rogaine. See our page on Rogaine to find out more.

Rather than assume the risks of these medications, see our pages on hair loss prevention and hair growth products.