Why Can Women Suffer from Hair Loss?

Why Can Women Suffer from Hair Loss?

For men, hair loss is seen as something that can potentially happen and it is accepted that men go bald or lose hair.


Hair loss or baldness in men is because of genetics, more specifically the X chromosome that is from the mother.


Other factors can influence it, such as the hormone testosterone, but genetics is the primary reason.


For women, losing hair is something that is unlikely though it can happen.


Though unlike men, women won’t have a receding hairline, instead, hair will thin and the middle parting of the hair may widen.


Is hair loss in women only genetic?


No, there is a number of reasons why a woman can start to lose hair. No matter the reason, this will likely be a distressing time regardless.


It can be genetic or there can be another reason which could be a cause for concern.


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How can hair loss for women be genetic?


Hair loss for women can be genetic because of a condition called androgenetic alopecia. This is more commonly known as male pattern baldness but it can affect women too.


In men, this is the condition where the hair recedes into an ‘M’ shape but for women, it thins the hair and widens the middle parting in the hair.


What other reasons are there that can cause female hair loss?


Hair loss can be caused by a number of different reasons. Knowing why it is happening will go a long way to treating it.


Aside from genetics, causes of hair loss in women include:

  • Stress
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Eating disorder
  • Vitamin overdose or deficiency
  • Lack of protein
  • Chemotherapy


How does stress cause hair loss?


Stress can cause hair loss in a number of ways. This is because there is more than one type of stress that can take its toll on the body.


Physical Stress


Physical stress is caused by a trauma, such as a car accident or surgery, even an illness such as the flu can cause hair loss.


 Why does this occur? It occurs because of a hair loss type called telogen effluvium.


This usually occurs 3-6 months after the stressful event.


This condition is caused when a shock to the body causes it to trigger, which pushes the body to shed the hair.


Hair has three stages in its lifecycle:

  • Growth
  • Resting
  • Shedding


Stress or a trauma accelerates the shedding phase.


Mental Stress


Less likely than physical stress to cause hair loss, but it can by making an already existing condition worse.


Events such as a divorce or losing a loved can make the condition you have worse than it was.


How does pregnancy cause hair loss?


Pregnancy can be traumatic and it can trigger hair loss because of stress.


The more likely scenario is that hair loss occurs after childbirth but there is no need to worry, as it will grow back naturally within a couple of months.


Image of pregnant woman with hand on stomach


Can hair occur if taking birth control or hormone pills?


Hormone changes, such as pregnancy, or switching or coming off birth control, or the menopause can cause hair loss.


This is because the change in hormone balance can cause the androgen (male hormone) receptors in the scalp to activate and as a result, hair will thin and then fall out.


Treatment for this includes talking to your doctor about using an alternative form of birth control or hormone tablet.


Stopping treatment completely can also stop the hair loss.


Can losing weight cause hair loss?


Yes, losing too much weight suddenly can cause trauma to the body which will lead to sudden hair loss even if the weight loss is good for you.


Hair thinning or loss along with sudden weight loss can be caused by an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.


How do vitamins affect hair loss?


Hair can be caused by taking too much of a type of vitamin and not taking enough of another.


Taking too much Vitamin A


Taking too much Vitamin A in supplements can cause hair loss.


This is because the supplements may contain more than the recommended amount daily.


The recommended amount of Vitamin A daily is 5,000 International Units (IU).


The number of supplements can range from 2,500 to 10,000 IU.


An IU is a standard measurement of vitamins and hormones.


If you are losing hair as a result of taking too much Vitamin A, then stopping taking it will stop the hair loss and it will grow back.


Vitamin B deficiency


Taking too much Vitamin A can cause hair loss so can you not taking enough Vitamin B.


Fixing a Vitamin B deficiency is as simple as taking supplements in order to stop the hair loss from occurring.


Any other deficiencies cause hair loss?


There are some deficiencies alongside a Vitamin B deficiency that can cause hair loss.


Protein deficiency


A lack of protein in the body can lead to it rationing the protein that it does have in order to best use it.


This will likely lead to some hair loss as hair growth will not be prioritised.


To remedy this, eating meats and egg will get the body the protein that it needs.


For vegetarians and vegans, there are a number of protein supplements available that will help you get the protein that you need.


Image of types of protein, inlcuding meat, nuts, and egg




A disorder such as anaemia, an iron deficiency, can cause hair loss as well.


This is easily treated with an iron supplement that will help stop the hair loss as well.


How come chemotherapy causes hair loss?


Some of the most effective forms of treatment for cancer cause hair to fall out.


This includes chemotherapy.


Chemotherapy causes hair loss because it destroys rapidly dividing cells in the body, such as cancer cells.


Hair cells are also rapidly dividing cells and as a result, those cells get destroyed too.


Once you have chemotherapy treatment, your hair will grow back.


Though it may look different, be a different colour or curly when it was previously straight, for example.


Any other types of medication cause hair loss?


Medication including ibuprofen and even antidepressants can cause hair loss.


This side effect will likely need you to speak to a doctor to change the dosage or even change medication altogether.


Are there any other ways hair loss can occur?


Hair loss can happen as a result of styling your hair in a certain way.


Styles such as braiding and weaves, as well as straightening the hair, can cause hair to fall out over time.


Because these actually affect the hair directly, there is a chance that it might not grow back once it has fallen out.


In order to prevent this, stop using these styles and treatments, use conditioner after every wash, and letting your hair dry naturally, will help protect your hair from long-term damage.



Literally pulling your hair out


A condition called Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that causes you to play with and pull your hair out without thinking about it.


This condition usually starts at around age 17 and is four times more common in women than it is in men.


Treatment for this condition can be some antidepressants, but therapy is more likely to be effective.



There are a number of ways deal with hair loss, should it happen to you. Keeping it protected by using the right shampoo and conditioner and not damaging it with over-styling will go some way to keeping your hair from falling out. 



Paul Kelly - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist on 22 September 2021
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