Millions of women suffer from hair loss and just as many likely feel self-conscious about seeking care. Instead of pursuing treatment, many women (like men) try to hide their condition by wearing hats, adjusting their hair or shaving their heads. According to the American Hair Loss Association, nearly 40 percent of those who experience hair loss are women.
Why do women lose their hair, and what can they do to turn back the clock and grow lush, beautiful locks?
"Balding has everything to do with changing hormones levels."
According to ABC News chief women's health correspondent Jennifer Ashton in an ABC segment about hair loss in women, changing hormone levels cause women to bald.
"This is really one of the dirty little secrets about peri-menopause that doesn't get spoken about. And you can see this in women as early as their 40s. It all has to do with changing hormone levels," said Ashton.
She went on to say, "All hormones change as [women] go through menopause. Estrogen drops. Progesterone drops. That can affect hair blood flow to the scalp. Testosterone also drops, but relative to estrogen, it seems to go up, so that's where you get those male-pattern symptoms: thinning hair, hair loss, acne, occasional chin hair. Not fun."
Ashton also answered questions about hair loss from Twitter followers. Inquiries ranged from the similarities between male- and female-pattern baldness to possible treatment options.
Women lose their hair for many reasons including age, genes and self-mutilation (pulling out hair). Other times emotional anxiety or accidental stress on hair follicles causes the condition to develop.
Dr. Jeffrey Rapaport, speaking to ABC News, said, "Women who are losing their hair are all day long thinking about hair loss. It's devastating to them." This statement also applies to men in the same situation.
While some women try to cure balding by using Rogaine or shampoos, some have turned to a relatively new procedure called PRP therapy.
PRP therapy uses platelet rich plasma, which is derived from patients' blood, to heal damaged areas of their bodies. To obtain PRP, doctors extract a small amount of blood from patients. They then place the blood in a centrifuge and separate it into red and white blood cells as well as platelets – a concentrated substance that doctors directly apply to the treatment area.
During its segment on hair loss, ABC News conducted two case studies with women who scheduled PRP therapy to treat their thinning hairlines. Both women experienced hair loss after they had children.
One patient who underwent PRP therapy said, "It's probably the best thing I've ever done for myself." The other patient said her balding "was very embarrassing." She "had to work it so you couldn't see the bald spots." After she received PRP therapy, she noted the results were dramatic. "[My hair] was very lush. It was very beautiful."
The risks associated with PRP therapy
While PRP is generally a safe procedure, it does come with some side effects. Dr. Rapaport told ABC News, "You are injecting the scalp, so you can get bruising, a little swelling and a little collection of blood." While this may raise some eyebrows, PRP therapy is a more viable, safe method of treating hair loss than invasive surgery.
If you're not sure whether PRP therapy is right for you, contact a professional. He or she can examine your condition and provide options that will not only work but that you'll also feel comfortable with.