Have you ever looked in the mirror and for the first time, come to the shocking realization that something about yourself had definitely changed? I’m Laura. I’m 19 years old, just starting my Junior year in College, majoring in Political Science. And in June of 2002, I experienced that unfortunate epiphany. When I peeked in the mirror, I realized my hair had 2 very thin spots on both sides of my head. Worried, I made an appointment with my dermatologist immediately.
Diagnosed with Genetic Womens Baldness
I sat in the examination room with the jitters. He looked at my scalp with a magnifying visor under bright halogen lights. After a few seconds he proclaimed “Genetic pattern baldness”. Stunned, I immediately thought, how? When? And still, to this day, why me? I wasn’t given any background information on the condition aside from “It’s just inherited”, and “try Rogaine 2%”. I walked out of the office, still shocked. How could this be? I was only 18 years old. I was so naive, I thought it only happened to men, or older women.
As soon as I stepped out of the office, a tidal wave of emotions crashed within my body and tears spilled out, as I repeated the diagnosis to my boyfriend.
I felt as soaked as a sponge, yet numb. I always had thick, long, healthy hair. What was happening? Did I do something wrong? Confused and flustered, I went home to report back to my parents. They thought it was hogwash, and just told me to stop using hair products.
It would have been much harder to deal issue straight on; ignoring and dismissing it was a lot easier on the nerves. I did not even bother looking up information on this so-called genetic baldness as I thought (probably wrongly) that my diagnosis was completely off. My rationale? I’m too young, I have too much hair, I’m in great health, my parents and grandparents are not bald.
In October of 2002, I started on the Ortho-Evra birth control patch. I still had a fair amount of hair, and it was still quite healthy despite highlighting, dying and drying. From winter 2002 until spring 2003, I had also faced bouts of anorexia. During this time, I had lost an enormous amount of hair. Each day, the shower drain would clog. Yet I never connected any of the strings. All I could do was look in the mirror, puzzled as to why I started seeing more and more scalp.
Finally, I could not stand it anymore and I realized, once again, there was something not right about my hair. Something had to be done. My part-line was getting wider and wider, while the bulk of my hair was thinning dramatically.
In May of 2003, I saw Dr. Carl Bazan, a famous doctor working on new, advanced technologies to improve hair transplants. He was very kind and spent a good amount of time listening to me and addressing my concerns. He also gave me the same diagnosis, female androgenetic alopecia, and suggested some things. I was very appreciative of the fact that he, unlike other doctors, actually seemed to feel for the other person in a humane way.
Guinea Pig Without Answers
I had also made an appointment to see another dermatologist in San Francisco, who, like the other two, diagnosed me with androgenetic alopecia, with the same repetitive catchphrase of “It’s just genetic”. Without ordering blood tests first, she gave me 200 mg of spironolactone daily, and 5% Rogaine. I also had to sit there, embarrassed, while I had polaroids taken of my scalp. This time I cried in the examination room.
I started eliminating all things in my life that could cause my hair loss. I stopped the birth control in August, as with the spironolactone (I was having excessive stomach pains). I went to an endocrinologist who told me that I could not have androgenetic alopecia as I did not have hirsuitism nor did I have temple recession, and that I looked fine.
I went home, bummed. But then I started to search the internet, trying to find as much information as I could for this awful condition. I learned a lot of general information about it, but there will still questions left unanswered.
I found no site dedicated to women. Many of the large sites were helpful, but it seemed as though they were geared more towards men. One hair loss site in particular though called HairLossTalk.com had a thriving women’s message board. Through their posts, I laughed with them, cried and empathized with their situation, and learned an invaluable amount of information.
It was then that it came to me; their stories, information, ideas, thoughts — they should all have a home. Through hard work and time, HerAlopecia.com blossomed into what you see today. I am hoping that this will be the first place that women can go to, to research their hair loss, to share their stories and to support each other.
HerAlopecia.com is still in the process of growing. It will always be in the process of growing, as the person who runs HairLossTalk has offered his time, money, and resources to keeping this support resource alive. I hope that you will be able to find some useful information here; we are all in this together, and through your help and involvement, I am hopeful this site will provide for your needs with a caring and informative atmosphere.
Thank you for reading this.