Female Androgenetic Alopecia Causes, Diagnosis, and TreatmentsUnderstand the causes, how to diagnose, and what type of treatments are available.
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in women. This type of hereditary hair loss can begin anytime after puberty and usually occurs, if at all, before the age of forty.
What it Looks Like:
Women who have androgenetic alopecia (AGA) usually have increased thinning or diffuse hair loss all over. It is most noticeable at the part line and top area just behind the bangs, while often maintaining the front hairline. Female pattern baldness is measured with the Ludwig Scale, as seen below, ranging from 1, 2 and 3, with varying degrees inbetween.
How Androgenetic Alopecia in Women Works
Androgenetic Alopecia causes the follicles become sensitive to hormones, or androgens that already exist within your body. Within those follicles are androgen receptors. The androgens (hormones) tell the androgen receptors to produce less hair. Consequently, growing cycles are shortened while hair becomes thinner and finer. While there is no loss of the actual follicle, eventually hair production can stop altogether.
How does this happen? An enzyme known as 5 alpha-reductase exists in the follicle. When the hormone (typically testosterone) binds to the androgen receptor, it triggers 5-alpha reductase to convert that testosterone into something called DHT. Its the DHT which plays the most active role in damaging hair production.
This is why "inhibiting DHT" is such a big catch-phrase in hair loss circles. That, and "anti-androgens". Things which inhibit DHT, or work against this androgen process, are considered legitimate hair loss treatments.
Causes of Androgenetic Alopecia in Women
What causes this? Well, if its andro-genetic then the cause is a genetic predisposition. However there are myriads of other causes of thinning hair in women. This is why doctors typically recommend Growth Stimulants before suggesting DHT Inhibitors or Antiandrogens. However, when you don't know the cause of your hair loss, a multi-faceted approach is best. Combining both growth stimulants and antiandrogens into a preliminary treatment regimen is a very wise, and effective method for tackling this problem today. You have plenty of time to work with your doctor to identify the root cause.
Causes for hair loss in women can be numerous. That is why numerous blood tests are usually the first step in narrowing things down. Many conditions such as menstrual irregularities, hirsuitism, acne, and naturally higher testosterone levels can all be factors associated with hair loss. Birth control pills are common, pregnancy is one of the MOST common, and pre and post menopause are all hormonally related factors that can trigger hair thinning on a small to large scale. Stress can exascerbate the progression but unless you've experienced several months of stress that has damaged your physical state, it is typically not the most prominent cause.
Treatments for Androgenetic Alopecia in Women
Luckily many women who have androgenetic alopecia respond well to various treatments. Before we look at treatments, let's take a look at how you can help your doctor diagnose your condition.