Why Is My Hair Falling Out? A Guide For Women

Hair loss is a surprisingly common experience for women, affecting millions globally. It can be a source of frustration and anxiety, impacting self-esteem and confidence. While seeing less hair on your brush or in the shower drain might be alarming, it’s important to remember that hair loss doesn’t always signify a serious medical condition. 

Various factors can cause female hair loss condition. This means that what causes it for one woman is different for another. Understanding the various potential causes is the first step toward finding solutions and potentially reversing hair loss. This guide explores some of the most common reasons women experience hair loss and highlights the importance of seeking professional advice to determine the underlying cause. Read on!

Hormonal Changes

Our bodies are linked to our hormones, and hair growth is no exception. Estrogen, a key female hormone, promotes hair growth. However, fluctuations in estrogen levels can disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to shedding. This is why hair loss is often experienced during times of hormonal change, such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. According to the American Pregnancy Association, up to 40% to 50% of women experience hair loss one to five months following pregnancy. (1)

Additionally, other hormonal imbalances can cause hair loss. Conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders can disrupt hormone levels and negatively impact hair health. If you suspect a hormonal imbalance might be a factor, consulting with an endocrinologist or your primary care doctor can help identify and address any underlying issues.

Genetics (Hereditary Hair Loss)

Genes play a significant role in hair health and can influence hair loss in women. Female pattern baldness, medically known as androgenetic alopecia (also androgenic alopecia), is a common inherited condition. This type of hair loss typically presents with a gradual thinning at the crown of the scalp and a receding hairline.

A combination of genetic predisposition and sensitivity to high androgen levels causes androgenetic alopecia. These hormones can shorten the hair growth cycle, leading to thinner and shorter hair over time. While there is no cure for this type of hair loss, there are treatments and lifestyle modifications that can slow its progression and promote hair growth.


Life can be stressful, and chronic physical or emotional stress can manifest in various ways, including hair loss. When stressed, the body diverts resources away from non-essential functions like hair growth, potentially triggering a condition called telogen effluvium. In this condition, hair follicles prematurely enter the resting phase, increasing shedding.

In severe cases, stress can also cause alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that results in patchy hair loss. Managing stress through exercise, meditation, or hormone therapy may positively affect hair health. If you’re struggling with chronic stress, consult your doctor or a mental health professional.

Medical Conditions

Certain health conditions can contribute to hair loss. Autoimmune diseases like lupus, where the body’s immune system attacks its tissues, can damage hair follicles and impede growth. Similarly, scalp conditions such as ringworm or fungal infections can disrupt hair growth and lead to hair thinning and temporary hair loss.

Additionally, some medications have hair loss as a side effect. This includes but is not limited to chemotherapy drugs, birth control pills, blood thinners, some blood pressure medications, and certain antidepressants. These treatment methods often lead to excessive hair shedding or permanent hair loss. If you’re concerned about medication-induced hair loss, talk to your doctor about potential alternative medications or discuss management strategies.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Our bodies rely on a range of nutrients for healthy hair growth. When key nutrients are lacking, it can take a toll on hair, contributing to thinning hair that’s thinner and prone to breakage. Iron, zinc, vitamin D, and biotin deficiency are all linked to hair loss. Iron deficiency is a particularly common culprit, especially among women with heavy periods or those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

A healthy diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein is crucial for overall hair health. Good sources of iron include meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and leafy green vegetables. Zinc is found in oysters, meat, nuts, and fortified cereals. Incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, eggs, and sunshine (for vitamin D synthesis) provides essential nutrients that boost hair health. (2)

If you suspect a nutrient deficiency might be a factor in your excessive hair loss, consult your doctor. A simple blood test can check for deficiencies, and your doctor can recommend dietary changes or supplements to restore optimal nutrient levels. Addressing deficiencies can create a healthy environment for new hair growth and promote stronger, healthier hair overall.

Hairstyling Practices

While a sleek ponytail can be a stylish choice, tight hairstyles that constantly pull on the hair can lead to a condition called traction alopecia. This type of hair loss occurs due to repeated stress on the hair follicles, causing them to weaken and eventually stop producing hair. Regularly opting for looser hairstyles or wearing your hair down more often can give your hair follicles a break.

Similarly, harsh chemical treatments like bleaching, relaxing, and excessive heat styling with straighteners or curling irons can damage the hair shaft. This weakens hair, contributing to breakage that mimics hair loss. Using heat-protectant products, minimizing heat styling, and choosing gentler chemical treatments (if needed) can help protect hair integrity and prevent breakage.


As you age, hair growth naturally slows down. According to the American Dermatology Association, women start experiencing female pattern hair loss (FPHL) in their 40s, 50s, or 60s. This condition affects about 30 million women in the USA, and the risk of developing it is 40% by age 50. (3)

 Hair follicles gradually shrink, producing finer and thinner hair. This is a normal part of the aging process and is experienced by men and women alike. However, a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, gentle hair care practices, and appropriate products can all help promote healthy hair growth as you age.

Consulting a dermatologist can also be helpful during this stage. A professional can assess your hair and discuss treatment options specifically suited for age-related hair density and quality changes.


Various factors can cause hair loss, and identifying the underlying cause is crucial for effective treatment. If you are experiencing hair loss, consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional. Early diagnosis allows a personalized hair loss treatment plan to address the root cause and potentially reverse hair loss. You are not alone in this; you can achieve healthy, beautiful hair with the right approach.


  1. Pregnancy and Hair Loss: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/hair-loss-during-pregnancy/?sw_cache=rebuild#:~:text=Hair%20Loss%20During,it%20is%20temporary
  2. Top 10 Foods for Healthy Hair: https://www.webmd.com/beauty/ss/slideshow-foods-healthy-hair 
  3. The Inflammatory Aspect of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346800367_The_Inflammatory_Aspect_of_Male_and_Female_Pattern_Hair_Loss#:~:text=Introduction-,Male%20and%20female%20pattern%20hair,50,-