By Shannon Koehle
EmpowHer.com Health Writer
Women once suffered hair loss silently, ashamed by their appearances and baffled by its cause.
However, it is now known that millions of women are affected by this physical reaction. As the founder of the American Hair Loss Association and host of “The Bald Truth” on XM Radio Spencer Kobren says, “40% of hair loss affects women. That’s over 90 million women.”
Hair loss, medically referred to as alopecia, is often caused by excessive stress, hormonal imbalances, reactions to medications (particularly Accutane used to clear-up acne), and one’s bodily response to disease.
However, for more than 50% of women, the cause of hair loss is genetic predisposition combined with hormonal changes, says Kobren. This is also known as female pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia.
Caused by a variety of hormonal factors, specific reasons for androgenetic alopecia include ovarian cysts, taking high androgen index birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause, linked with heredity.
As Kobren says, birth control pills are a big contributing factor. “Most women have no idea. They may read about side affects, but the doctors don’t emphasize this.”
With a 75% chance for alopecia if both parents are prone to hair loss, Kobren strongly suggests considering a different form of birth control.
While most do not experience hair loss while on birth control, he says most cases occur after one stops taking the medication.
Some forms of hair loss are curable, but most cases are permanent. However, there is one medication approved by the Federal Drug and Food Administration available, Women’s Rogain, 2% Minoxidil.
Though there are other medications featured on infomercials and magazine advertisements, Kobren says these are to be avoided.
“Women are so vulnerable,” he says, “but they are wasting their time and money if they buy those products.” As he says, the products sold for $30 one can buy for $15 at a drug store.
Hair loss no longer affects just men, nor does it solely target older women. “After puberty, hormonal hair loss can happen,” says Kobren.