Although baldness is not as common in women as in men, the psychological effects of hair loss tend to be much greater. Typically the frontal hairline is preserved but the density of hair is decreased on all areas of the scalp. Previously it was believed to be caused by testosterone just as in male baldness, but most women who lose hair have normal testosterone levels.
However, female hair loss has become a growing problem which, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, affects around 30 million women in the United States. Although hair loss in females normally occurs after the age of 50 or even later when it does not follow events like pregnancy, chronic illness, crash diets, and stress among others, it is now occurring at earlier ages with reported cases in women as young as 15 or 16.
Causes of female hair loss may vary from those that affect men. In the case of androgenic alopecia female hair loss occurs as a result of the action of androgens hormones (testosterone, androsteinedione, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT)). These male hormones normally occur in small amounts in women.
However, according to a dermatologist from Nassau University Medical Center androgenic alopecia is not the main cause of hair loss in women and dermatologists now prefer to call this condition female pattern hair loss (or Ludwig Pattern Baldness after the scale developed to diagnose it) instead of using the term androgenic alopecia. He adds that the female pattern is diffuse and goes around the whole top of the head and can affect women at any time.
There are other instances in which the actions of hormones may also cause female hair loss. Some examples are: pregnancy, menopause, presence of ovarian cysts, birth control pills with a high androgen index, polycystic ovary syndrome. Also thyroid disorders, anemia, chronic illness and some medications can also cause female hair loss.