Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is a type of hair loss that affects women, typically after menopause, and is characterized by a gradual thinning of the hair over time. It is a common condition that affects up to 50% of women over the age of 50, but it can occur at any age.
FPHL is also known as androgenetic alopecia because it is believed to be related to the action of androgen hormones, such as testosterone, on the hair follicles. Androgens are typically thought of as male hormones, but women also have them in their bodies, albeit in lower amounts. When androgens are produced in excess, or when the hair follicles become more sensitive to them, they can cause the hair follicles to shrink and produce thinner, shorter hairs. Over time, this can lead to hair follicle miniaturization and permanent hair loss.
The symptoms of FPHL typically include thinning of hair on the crown of the head, widening of the part, and a reduction in overall hair density. In some cases, women may also experience hair loss at the front of the scalp, similar to male pattern baldness. While FPHL is not typically associated with any underlying medical conditions, it can have a significant impact on a woman’s self-esteem and quality of life.
There are several treatment options available for FPHL, depending on the severity of the condition. Topical minoxidil (Rogaine) is a common first-line treatment and is available over-the-counter. Oral finasteride (Propecia) is another option, but it is only FDA-approved for use in men and is not typically prescribed for women. Hair transplant surgery is another option for women with more severe hair loss.