What Is Female Pattern Hair Loss?

While more common in men, females often experience the devastating effects of hair loss as well. Both female pattern hair loss and male pattern baldness are medically referred to as androgenic alopecia. While considered the same condition, the pattern in which hair loss is experienced is very different between the two genders.

Men with androgenic alopecia tend to lose hair starting at the temples, vertex, and/or crown of the head. With women, the hair loss pattern spreads across the top of the scalp. The back of the head is least affected. There are varying levels of severity according to the Ludwig Classification. Even in advanced stages of hair loss, the affected area typically does not become completely bald and the hairline remains intact.

Most women with female pattern hair loss notice an increase in hair shedding before they become aware of hair loss over the crown. Others may not notice their hair shedding but feel they’ve lost hair volume and body. The shedding and thinning process typically comes in a series of episodes that occur progressively closer together, until some women find they are shedding all year round.

The average person sheds 50-100 hairs a day, which usually doesn’t cause thinning because new hair is growing in at the same time. With female pattern baldness, the follicles produce shorter, thinner miniaturized hair strands that continue to thin and decrease in size with the process of miniaturization. In men, follicles eventually go dormant while they remain miniaturized in women.

The exact cause of female pattern hair loss is not fully understood but we do know that genetics play a large role. Heredity also affects the age at which one begins to lose their hair, the rate of hair loss and the extent of baldness.  Hair loss is also related to changes in the levels of androgens (male hormones) in the body. For example, after reaching menopause, many women find their hair is thinner on their head yet more coarse on the face.

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