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Articles on Women’s Hair Loss

What Causes Androgenetic Areata?

Hair follicles contain androgen receptors. In the presence of androgens, genes that shorten the anagen phase are activated, and hair follicles shrink or become miniaturized. With successive anagen cycles, the follicles become smaller (leading to shorter, finer hair), and nonpigmented vellus hairs replace pigmented terminal hairs. In women, the thinning is diffuse, but more marked in the frontal and parietal regions. Even persons with severe androgenetic alopecia almost always have a thin fringe of hair frontally. The remaining hair configuration may resemble a monk’s haircut.

Women with androgenetic alopecia do not have higher levels of circulating androgens. However, they have been found to have higher levels of 5a-reductase (which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone), more androgen receptors, and lower levels of cytochrome P450 (which converts testosterone to estrogen).

Most women with androgenetic alopecia have normal menses, normal fertility, and normal endocrine function, including gender-appropriate levels of circulating androgens. Therefore, an extensive hormonal work-up is unnecessary. If a woman has irregular menses, abrupt hair loss, hirsutism, or acne recurrence, an endocrine evaluation is appropriate. In this situation, total testosterone, free testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and prolactin levels should be obtained.

Because the hair loss in androgenetic alopecia is an aberration of the normal hair cycle, it is theoretically reversible. Advanced androgenetic alopecia, however, may not respond to treatment, because the inflammation that surrounds the bulge area of the follicle may irreparably damage the follicular stem cell.

AGA – Photo image of onset

Image photo of the onset of Androgenetic Alopecia in a female courtesy of www.aafp.org

Image photo of the onset of Androgenetic Alopecia in a female courtesy of www.aafp.org

Claire Taylor ~ NHS Choices Video

In this NHS Choices video, Claire Taylor, describes how she has coped with alopecia since age 11 and hasn’t let it stop her doing the things she loves. You rock, Claire!

What Can I Expect Next?

The course of alopecia universalis is highly unpredictable, and the uncertainty of what will happen next is probably the most difficult and frustrating aspect of the disease. You may continue to lose hair, or your hair loss may stop. The hair you have lost may or may not grow back, and you may or may not continue to develop new bare patches.

Is My Hair Loss a Symptom of a Serious Disease?

Alopecia universalis is not a life-threatening disease. It does not cause any physical pain, and people with the condition are generally healthy otherwise. But for most people, a disease that unpredictably affects their appearance the way alopecia universalis does is a serious matter.

The effects of alopecia universalis are primarily socially and emotionally disturbing. In alopecia universalis, however, loss of eyelashes and eyebrows and hair in the nose and ears can make the person more vulnerable to dust, germs, and foreign particles entering the eyes, nose, and ears.

Alopecia universalis often occurs in people whose family members have other autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, pernicious anemia, or Addison’s disease. People who have alopecia areata do not usually have other autoimmune diseases, but they do have a higher occurrence of thyroid disease, atopic eczema, nasal allergies, and asthma.

Welcome to HerHairLossHelp.com!

women's hair loss treatment and cosmetic solutions information

Welcome to HerHairLossHelp.com! As a woman, losing hair or having thinning hair can be a devastating and often confusing experience. A number of women suffer hair loss whether it be through androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, universalis, telogen effluvium, etc. With all the possible triggers for our hair loss physically and emotionally, sometimes it feels as if it is a constant battle within to stay sane. However, you are NOT alone!

Her HairLoss Help was made by women with alopecia for women with alopecia, and is one of the longest running women’s hair loss support community just for women.

Please be sure to join us on Facebook to get information, learn about treatments available, find support during your quest to find answers, and chat with women who suffer from hair loss from all over the world. Ask a question and most likely you will be overwhelmed by the honest and straightforward answers you will receive. These women are warm and welcoming and sometimes a little looney…

We are so glad you are here!

PCOS ~ What blood tests to have done

What blood tests should be done to diagnose Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?


Many doctors will require the following blood tests be done to successfully diagnose Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in a patient:

  • Fasting comprehensive biochemical and lipid panel;
  • 2-hour GTT with insulin levels (also called IGTT);
  • LH:FSH ratio;
  • Total testosterone;
  • DHEAS;
  • SHBG;
  • Androstenedione;
  • Prolactin and
  • TSH

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

How common is PCOS?

It is currently believed that approximately 5 to 10% of women have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive years and the leading cause in women for infertility. Since many women can have PCOS without exhibiting any symptoms, the actual number of women affected could be as much as 10% more of the population.

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What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Photo of a polycystic ovary courtesy of http://www.ovarian-cysts-pcos.com

Photo of a polycystic ovary courtesy of http://www.ovarian-cysts-pcos.com

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Amenorrhea (no menstrual period), infrequent menses, and/or oligomenorrhea (irregular bleeding) Menstrual cycles can often be scant, irregular and infrequent or may also exhibit in the form of spotting throughout the month.
  • Oligo or anovulation (infrequent or absent ovulation) Women with PCOS generally produce an egg but they don’t fully mature. Instead, these immature egg sacs can create ovarian cysts.
  • Hyperandrogenism Women who have PCOS generally also have an increase in serum levels of male hormones such as testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS).
  • Infertility
  • Cystic ovaries Classic PCOS ovaries have a “string of pearls” or “pearl necklace” appearance with many cysts.
  • Enlarged ovaries Polycystic ovaries are usually 1.5 to 3 times larger than normal.
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Obesity or weight gain Most commonly referred to as an “apple figure”. PCOS women will generally gain weight primarily in the abdomen and waistline.
  • Insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and diabetes Insulin resistance is a condition where the body’s use of insulin is inefficient.
  • Hirsutism (excess hair) Excess hair growth such as on the face, chest, abdomen, thumbs, or toes.
  • Alopecia (female-pattern baldness or thinning hair) The thinning most commonly occurs on the top of the head.
  • Acne/Oily Skin/Seborrhea
  • Acrochordons (skin tags)

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What causes PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. However, there are studies that may lead us to believe that there may be a genetic link. Just as one may have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, one might also have a disposition to PCOS.

Cipro Interacts with Thyroid Medication

Popular Antibiotic Interacts with Thyroid Medication

The British Medical Journal has reported on a several cases of unexplained hypothyroidism in thyroid patients (on levothyroxine) who were taking the popular antibiotic ciprofloxacin. Ciprofloxacin is the generic name for the fluoroquinolone antibiotic sold under the brand names Cipro, Ciproxin and Ciprobay, Cirpoxine, and Ciflox. The drug is primarily used to treat urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and sexually transmitted diseases. Ciprofloxacin was also in the news during the anthrax scare, given its use in treatment for anthrax exposure.
What the researchers found in these cases were evidence that oral ciprofloxacin interacts with levothyroxine (i.e., Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid) if taken together. It’s thought that the ciprofloxacin may somehow decrease the absorption of the levothyroxine.

In one case, a woman taking 125 mcg a day of levothyroxine took ciprofloxacin (750 mg twice a day) and her TSH level rose to 44 after four weeks. Even when her dosage was raised to 200 mcg a day, her TSH didn’t respond. Only when the ciprofloxacin was stopped did the TSH return to normal. In another case, a woman who was stabilized on 150 mcg a day of levothyroxine saw her TSH go from 1.6 to 19 after 3 weeks of treatment with ciprofloxacin at 500 mg twice a day.

What Can You Do?

If you’re a thyroid patient who is taking ciprofloxacin, what should you do?

The research suggested that thyroid tests were normalized if patients took the levothyroxine and ciprofloxacin at least six hours apart.

So, if you are on levothyroxine, it makes sense to allow at least six hours apart from taking your ciprofloxacin. And if you have to take the antibiotic for a lengthy period, you should discuss the potential impact on your thyroid with your doctor, and possibly request period thyroid testing to ensure that your thyroid treatment is not affected.

Source: Cooper, John, “Ciprofloxacin interacts with thyroid replacement therapy,” British Medical Journal, 2005

Thyroid levels affect Alzheimer’s risk – study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Women with low or high levels of a hormone that affects thyroid gland function and thyroid hormone levels may have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers reported Monday.

While it is not clear whether Alzheimer’s affects thyroid function or the other way around, the findings dovetail with long-standing knowledge that having an underactive or overactive thyroid can affect memory.

Dr. Zaldy Tan of Hebrew SeniorLife, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues looked at measured levels of a thyroid-regulating hormone called thyrotropin in 1,864 healthy men and women with an average age of 71.

They had blood drawn as part of the larger Framingham Health Study in which practically everyone in a Massachusetts town has had their health scrutinized for decades.

Writing in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, Tan and colleagues said 209 of the volunteers had developed Alzheimer’s disease after nearly 13 years.

Women with the lowest and highest levels of thyrotropin had more than double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. No such relationship was seen in men.

Changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s disease may reduce the amount of thyrotropin released, Tan’s team said. Alternately, low or high thyrotropin levels could damage brain cells or blood vessels.

They said the findings should be tested in a larger population. (Reporting by Maggie Fox; editing by Todd Eastham)

Source: Reuters North American News Service

Temperature Regulation for Thyroid Testing

One of the ladies here sent me a wonderful article on Basal Temperature taking… I found some more info and wanted to share it with you…

Do you ever experience fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating, difficulty getting up in the morning, cold hands and feet or intolerance to cold, constipation, loss of hair, fluid retention, dry skin, poor resistance to infection, high cholesterol, psoriasis, eczema, acne, premenstrual syndrome, loss of menstrual periods, painful or irregular menstrual periods, excessive menstrual bleeding, infertility (male or female), fibrocystic breast disease, or ovarian cysts? If so, you may have an underactive thyroid. It is often seen in people who suffer from multiple allergies, immune disorders and chronic fatigue.

Normal temperature regulation in the body is essential for enzyme functions and preservation of health. Whenever our molecular and immune defenses are stressed, three body organs take the brunt of the injury; the thyroid, pancreas and adrenal glands. The evaluation of the functional status of the thyroid gland — hypothyroidism or under-active thyroid gland — requires blood tests as well as temperature records.

There is considerable evidence, however, that blood tests fail to detect many cases of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). It appears that many individuals have “tissue resistance” to thyroid hormone. Therefore, their body may need more thyroid hormone, even though the amount in their blood is normal (or even on the high side of normal). A low axillary temperature suggests (but does not prove) hypothyroidism. Optimal temperature regulation is an essential aspect of holistic therapy for these disorders.

There is a simple way to test this. Simply follow the instructions below and bring your results to your next visit with the doctor.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Use any digital or mercury thermometer. Shake it down before going to bed to 96 degrees or less and put it by your bedside.

2. In the morning, as soon as you wake up, put the thermometer deep in your armpit for ten minutes and record the temperature. Do this before you get out of bed, have anything to eat or drink, or engage in any activity. This will measure your lowest temperature of the day, which correlates with thyroid gland function. The normal underarm temperature averages 97.8-98.2 degrees F. We frequently recommend treatment if the temperature averages 97.4 or less. The temperature should be taken for four days.

3. Each time you are taking your temperature, it is imperative that you take both axillary (underarm) and oral (mouth) temperatures. Both temperatures need to be taken upon waking up as well as three hours later and then six hours after that. It is important to do this for four days and to follow these instructions carefully in order to get accurate results.

4. For women, the temperature should be taken starting the second day of menstruation. The reason is because a considerable temperature rise may occur around the time of ovulation and give incorrect results. If you miss a day, that is okay, but be sure to finish the testing before ovulation. For men, and for postmenopausal women, it makes no difference when the temperatures are taken. However, do not do the test when you have an infection or any other condition which would raise your temperature.

Basal Body Temperature: This is a test of your core body temperature and is a very useful test to determine if your thyroid hormonal system is underactive (ie hypothyroid).

What does being hypothyroid have to do with cardiovascular disease?

Hypothyroidism causes abnormal lipid metabolism which results in accelerated cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol and other lipids can become elevated due to diminished function of lipid metabolism enzymes caused by the lower body temperatures. Many body enzymes are highly temperature dependent, malfunctioning at abnormally low or high temperatures. The more abnormal the temperature, the more malfunctional the enzyme. On a molecular basis, this is why we become listless as our body temperatures go out of the normal range and we die at temperature extremes.

Although the frequency of hypothyroidism has been hotly debated for many decades, I am convinced that hypothyroidism is common and often unrecognized. The official normal range of thyroid blood tests are virtually useless except for obvious hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. These blood tests are useful if much tighter normal ranges are used. Additionally, accurate assessments of thyroid function can be obtained with basal body temperatures.

Ideally body temperature is taken immediately upon awakening and while still in bed, but it can be taken during the day at least 15 minutes after eating or drinking and when you haven’t been exercising. Men and post-menopausal women can take their temperatures on any day but menstruating women have some restrictions. Their temperature fluctuates with their menstrual cycle, lowest at ovulation and highest just before menstrual flow. They can most accurately measure the temperature on the second and third day of the period after the flow begins. Normal temperatures are: Armpit 98.0 +/- 0.2, Oral 98.6 +/- 0.2, and Rectal 99.0 +/- 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another useful assessment is an exceedingly low-tech question, “Do you tend to be very hot or cold when most others are not”? Characteristically, hypothyroid patients are very “cold blooded” and are cold to their core even when wearing warm clothes. As a corollary, these patients rarely can create any significant sweat. As an aside, two other conditions that can cause low body temperature are adrenal exhaustion and profound hypoglycemia but these diagnoses are usually quite obvious.

melanie

TE vs. CTE

Just wanted to summarize some research I’ve done over the past couple of years… for the benefit of my fellow TE shedders… Here goes…

Classic TE lasts roughly 3-6 months and has a very specific and temporary trigger… e.g. childbirth, major surgery, illness

CTE is basically TE lasting longer than 6 months and the insult or trigger is sort of a mystery…

Based upon my research… CTE in women can usually be attributed to a hormonal imbalance (e.g. too much estrogen or not enough) or other metabolic disturbance (e.g. thyroid) and also iron deficiency…

now… hormonal imbalances / metabolic disorders are pretty common with us chicks in this day and age… and there’s many reasons for this… too many to enumerate… but this link should help explain part of the problem:
http://womenlivingnaturally.com/articlepage.php?id=73

As far as iron deficiency… if you are menstruating and don’t eat alot of red meat or tons of green leafy veggies… chances are you are iron deficient on some level… as iron is stored in the blood… and blood loss = iron loss.

Anyway… hope this helps!!!
~ venus71, HHLH Forum Member

Lists of Medication That Cause, Can Exacerbate, or Can Possibly Cause Hair Loss in Women

I’ve compiled a new listing of medications that are either known to cause hair loss OR attribute to the immature (anagen or telogen) loss of hair… the list is EXTENSIVE so I made it into a .pdf file for easier reading/printing. I was (once again) surprised by a few of the new additions.

I did NOT include BCPs or HRT on this listing because I’m actively working on a separate listing for these. I’m also planning on putting together another listing of ADs that are hair or “non”hair friendly since that comes up often as well…

Hope this helps!!
melanie

 

Click the image to view the full PDF file.

Click the image to view the full PDF file.

Birth Control / Contraceptives and Hair Loss

BCPs contain a combination of estrogen and progestin. All BCPs now have one main source of estrogen — ethinyl estradiol. Ethinyl estradiol is a constant in the BCP equation but the part that changes is the progestin level. There are a number of different types of progestin and some of them are higher in androgenic value than others. I’ve compiled data from a number of different sources and come up with a handy chart that helps you identify which BCPs are high in androgens and which ones are lower. Remember that the higher the androgens, the more likely it will cause excessive hair loss, acne and hirsutism.

Click the image to view the full PDF file.

Click the image to view the full PDF file.

Photo trichogram findings in women with AGA

Phototrichogram findings in women with androgenetic alopecia.
Department of Dermatology, Sisli Etfal Research and Training Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey.

Background/purpose: Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) in women is characterized by diffuse thinning in the frontal and parietal areas of the scalp; preservation of the frontal hairline is norm. Hair over the occipital scalp is preserved. The purpose of this work was to investigate the findings of phototrichogram (PTG) of the affected and the spared areas in women with AGA and to compare them with those of healthy subjects.

Methods: Twenty-two controls and 60 untreated women with AGA (32 with Ludwig I, 28 with Ludwig II) were included in this study. Hair density, percentages of thin hair, and non-growing hair were estimated both on the midscalp and on the occiput by using PTG with digital camera attached to a dermoscope.

Results: In the control group, hair density was higher on the midscalp than the occiput. In AGA groups, hair density was lower on the midscalp than the occiput and percentages of thin hair and non-growing hair were higher on the midscalp than the occiput. These findings were more prominent in Ludwig II group. In the occiput there were findings mimicking the changes seen on the midscalp. These were less striking than those seen on the midscalp yet the difference between the control and Ludwig II group was statistically significant.

Conclusion: We concluded that the hair is not equally distributed on the scalp, the occiput may be affected in females with AGA and further studies are necessary to support these findings.

PMID: 17026665 [PubMed – in process]