The 5 main factors at the root of female hair loss

Hair loss is not a condition women talk about. After all, how often do you read about a celebrity coping with her unexplained bald spot? According to the Canadian Hair Research Foundation, however, about 40 to 50 percent of women will experience some hair loss before menopause. “It can be devastating for women to lose their hair,” says Dr. Robert Jones, a hair loss specialist in Oakville, Ontario. “Women who come to see me about treatments often break down into tears.”

There are many causes of hair loss, so the challenge often becomes identifying it. Everything from diabetes to iron deficiency can be a factor, but more and more female hair loss – especially in younger patients – is simply a symptom of stress.  

Thankfully stress-related hair loss is often temporary. Even better news? “Most of the time there are treatments that can either kick start hair growth or help disguise the condition,” Jones says.

Get to the root of your hair loss woes by examining the possible factors:

Iron deficiency: Many women have low iron levels thanks to our menstrual cycles and this is a common cause of hair thinning. If you’re noticing a change in your hair and are also frequently tired or easily exerted you should ask your doctor to check your iron levels. She can tell you if you need to eat more red meat or start taking a daily iron supplement.  

Birth control, acne medications and anti-depressants can cause temporary hair loss by putting hair follicles into a rest period. If you experience such a side effect, speak with your family doctor about other treatment choices.

Hormones: Conditions like polycystic ovaries can throw the body’s hormones out of whack causing the hair follicles to become dormant. Rogaine is one of the most popular options when this happens because it wakes up the follicles. “It takes at least four to six months to see results and costs about $20 a month,” says Dr. Jones. Pregnancy hormone fluctuations can also trigger temporary thinning that usually goes away once hormone levels return to normal.  

Diseases: Hypothyroidism, lupus, and diabetes are diseases that commonly trigger hair loss because of changes in the metabolic system. “It’s important to rule these out as possible causes when identifying your hair loss so you can get proper treatment,” says Dr. Jones. Once you and your doctor are managing the condition, hair counts and thickness will most likely return to normal. If that doesn’t happen, book an appointment with a specialist.  

Stress: “A loss in the family, a disease diagnosis, or prolonged periods of severe stress can cause hair to thin or fall out,” says Dr. Jones. Once stress levels drop, hair will re-grow. In the meantime, you can use cosmetic thickening sprays or powders to make hair appear fuller. These powdery treatments contain keratin protein fibers that stick to the hair and leave you feeling more confident.