After the birth of my first child, the amount of hair I was losing daily was a huge concern. Every time I took a shower, I was throwing away fistfuls of hair. It became a big source of anxiety for me, but when I saw my OB-GYN for my six-week postpartum visit, I learned that what I was experiencing was completely normal. I also came to learn that a lot of people are dealing with hair loss, not just women who have recently given birth. When I voiced my concerns to friends, they almost always had a story of their own hair loss woes or friends who were dealing with unexplained hair loss. During these conversations, it became apparent that not being able to control the amount of hair on your head can result in feelings of anxiety for most women. And while it’s typical to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs each day, anything above that is considered to be excessive. Here are four potential reasons your hair is falling out (and what you can do about it).
1. Baby on Board
Hair loss after pregnancy is pretty common. This is actually the result of not losing hair during your pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your estrogen levels are higher than normal, which prevents your hair from falling out. After you have your baby, those estrogen levels drop back down and all of that hair you didn’t lose during your pregnancy starts to fall out. There isn’t a lot to be done about this normal postpartum experience. If you’re feeling insecure about your hair loss, getting a new haircut, changing your part, or wearing headbands might help your hair to appear fuller until the hair loss slows down.
When you enter menopause, your hormone levels change drastically. Your body is producing less estrogen and progesterone, and this causes hair to fall out at a faster rate. Although men do experience hair loss in middle age more than women, many menopausal women notice their hair is thinning. If your hair loss has become bothersome, consider changing the way you style it to mask the hair loss. It is also believed that healthy lifestyle choices, like eating a nutrient-dense diet, getting exercise, and drinking plenty of water can help slow down hair loss in menopause.
3. Stress Shedding
Some people may experience increased hair loss when they’re exceptionally stressed. It is believed that this happens because the neurotransmitters associated with stress affect the hair follicles, causing hair to fall out prematurely when it would otherwise still be growing. If you believe you are losing hair because of stress, the best strategy is to find ways to manage it. If you can’t eliminate the source of your stress, look at some helpful coping skills like meditation, regular exercise, journaling, or counseling as methods for better processing the stress in your life.
4. You have something bigger going on.
In some cases, hair loss is an indication that something more serious is going on. For instance, excessive hair loss can be an indication of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. There are also certain nutrient deficiencies like iron and vitamin B deficiency that are associated with hair loss. If you are losing hair and believe there may be something more going on with your health, it is best to visit with your doctor. They can conduct tests to find the underlying problems causing your hair loss and help you determine a proper course of treatment.
Finding Comfort and Support
While searching for an explanation for their hair loss, many women find security in masking their hair with headbands or scarves. If your hair loss is significant, you may also choose to purchase a wig or have extensions put in your hair. Social media is an excellent place to find support as someone who is dealing with chronic hair loss. Consider joining a private Facebook group to meet others who understand what you’re going through or to brainstorm solutions for your hair loss concerns. The Women’s Hair Loss Project lists these supportive resources, and your healthcare provider may be able to recommend and in-person group as well.