Hormonal changes in menopause: do they contribute to a 'midlife hair crisis' in women?Br J Dermatol. 2011 Dec; 165 Suppl 3:7-11.BJ
Female pattern hair loss is a common problem affecting a large number of women worldwide but beset by a paucity of research. The study of androgens has hitherto dominated the field of hair biology but there is increasing scientific and clinical data to suggest that nonandrogen signals can also affect the folliculosebaceous unit, especially in women. The discovery of oestrogen receptor beta has renewed and redefined prior concepts of oestrogen activity and signalling in hair biology. It is postulated that oestrogens modulate hair growth by their influence on a number of other hormones, growth factors, transcription factors and cytokines. The menopause is a period in which significant changes in oestrogen levels are recorded, and this review discusses studies that help to clarify the link between menopause and the perception of thinning hair. In a study of pre- and postmenopausal women without alopecia, menopausal status significantly influenced hair parameters, specifically hair growth rate, percentage anagen and hair diameter distributions, most notably in the frontal scalp. Hair density decreased with age, but was not correlated with menopausal status. Analyses of hair amount using a model of hair density and hair diameters suggest that the impact of changing hair parameters is most notable in the mid-forties for women.