Hair loss is seen by most people as primarily a male health problem. Androgenic alopecia is the scientific name for male pattern baldness, which is the most common type of hair loss in men and is known to affect up to 70% of all males by the time they reach their 60s.

But here is something surprising: Approximately 50% of all women will suffer from chronic or episodic hair loss at some point in their lives, and androgenic alopecia actually affects both sexes and is known to exist in up to 30 million women in the United States alone. Despite people's perceptions, hair loss is actually a human health problem, not a male one, and too many women have been suffering in silence for too long because they have been led to believe their hair loss is something shameful that should be denied or ignored instead of being acknowledged and treated.

Female Pattern Baldness: Causes

Both male and female pattern baldness come from over-activity in the processes through which the body creates a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Even though this substance is created from the male hormone testosterone, this does not mean that women are protected from it. While it is true that the bodies of men and women predominantly produce the hormones that are most appropriate to their sex, all human beings have plentiful supplies of both male and female hormones, since each of these individual substances plays some kind of vital role in overall healthy human functioning. But for reasons apparently related to genetics, in most human beings the system that modifies and controls DHT production eventually malfunctions, and the body shifts into overdrive and starts making more DHT than the body could possibly ever use.

When there is excess DHT in the body, it tends to congregate in areas that contain cell receptors that can bind with DHT molecules. The primary place where these receptors can be found is in the hair follicles on the scalp. When DHT collects here, it interferes with the normal cycle of hair growth, and the ability of hair follicles to grow thick, healthy, long hair deteriorates to the point where hair is no longer grown at all. This process leads to female pattern baldness, which is characterized by a progressive thinning of the hair on the upper half of the scalp. Generally speaking, the recession of the hairline and thinning of the hair above the temples that is seen when androgenic alopecia develops in men is not found in women who contract female pattern baldness.

Other Types of Female Hair Loss

Because the causes of androgenic alopecia are systemic and develop over time, the hair loss associated with this disorder tends to be gradual and continuous. Most other types of hair loss that affect women occur much more suddenly, and a rapid loss of hair on the head indicates that something other than a genetic disorder is responsible for these changes.

Some of the most common causes of hair loss in women include:

• Sudden emotional or physical stress
• Anemia
• Thyroid disorders
• Autoimmune diseases
• Restrictive hair styles (cornrows or braiding can lead to a condition called traction alopecia where the hair is literally pulled out of the head from the roots)

The good news is that these types of hair loss are almost always reversible with medical treatments appropriate to these particular conditions.

Treating Female Pattern Baldness

The three most common types of hair loss treatment in men – the topical application minoxidil (Rogaine), the oral medication finasteride (Propecia) and natural supplements – are also used by women who are looking for a cure for female pattern baldness. In addition, there are some drugs that are not considered appropriate for use in men who have shown some ability to halt and even reverse the progression of androgenic alopecia in women, most especially a class of drugs called androgen receptor inhibitors, which can prevent DHT from binding to hair follicle receptors.

While finasteride is generally considered to be the most powerful type of hair loss treatment, it usually does not work quite as well in women as in men. Also, because it can cause birth defects in children, women cannot get pregnant while taking this drug, or take it while pregnant if they are experiencing hair loss at that time. Interestingly, minoxidil actually appears to work somewhat better for women than for men, and as such, has become very popular with female hair loss sufferers. Natural supplements that help regenerate the body's ability to grow hair naturally by blocking DHT production and hair follicle binding, and by delivering nutrients the body needs to stimulate the production of healthy hair, appear to work equally well in both men and women. Natural supplements for hair loss have been growing in popularity because of their affordability and the fact they do not contain any pharmaceutical drugs, which frequently have unpleasant side effects.

Finding Help

Hopefully the stigma that may have prevented women from seeking treatment for hair loss in the past is now in the process of disappearing forever. Help is most definitely available for women suffering from female pattern baldness, as well as any other kind of female hair loss.

Author's Bio: 

Speedwinds Nutrition, Inc. is the leader in nutritional supplements. One of their most successful products is Sephren, a hair loss system designed to treat female hair loss. While most hair loss products focus on external factors, Sephren differentiates itself by taking a multi-prong approach. The Sephren hair loss system consist of three components; an oral supplement, topical foam and cleansing shampoo. The Procerin system works to safely and naturally combat the causes of male pattern baldness and restart the hair growth process. To learn more about hair loss and Sephren, visit them at: