They say a woman’s hair is her crowning glory. Well, about 6 months ago, I started losing mine. A lot of it. At first I had doubts, and tried to convince myself that nothing had changed. It had always been like that, I just hadn’t noticed that I lose so much hair.
But it continued and got worse. To the point where I couldn’t deny it. Running my fingers through my hair when conditioning meant pulling out massive clumps. Full length hairs en masse, roots and all. A haul about 4-5 times the usual size. And it became noticeable… a visible thinning that really freaked me out.
There was nothing for it but to catastrophise. A quick Google soon revealed that it could be the start of any number of nasty conditions. The hair loss could be permanent. Sound alarm bells.
So I went to see my doctor. His opinion? “Oh, that seems pretty normal. I wouldn’t be concerned.” Normal? Excuse me. I’m approaching 35, not 85! How can this be normal?
As it turns out, he was right. I didn’t need to worry, my excess hair loss has stopped. Apparently it’s relatively common for our hair to fall naturally into the same loss cycle around this age. We lose loads all at the same time, and it seems like we’re going to lose it all, but the cycle eventually rights itself.
Another common cause for hair loss is not just pregnancy-related hormone changes (which most of us have probably heard about), but any hormone changes. Simply starting, stopping or changing the pill you take can upset your hormone balance sufficiently to trigger noticeable hair loss. But again, as your body adjusts to the hormone changes, the cycle will most likely correct itself. Likewise, extreme stress and extreme weight-loss can also be catalysts.
I had never heard about hair loss in healthy, non-pregnant, early 30s women. But talking amongst my circle of friends, I spoke to other ladies who were living the same scary situation. And apparently we are not alone. According to WebMD, it is estimated that 8 million women across the UK experience thinning hair. But, like me, none of my friends realised that this phenomenon is relatively common, and were stressed by what was happening.
Before I started losing it, I’d never really stopped to think about my hair, aside from the obvious questions of long vs short, fringe vs no fridge. I had always taken it for granted. Assumed I would have a thick crop of it throughout the various stages of my life. But when it started leaving me at a rapid rate, I suddenly realised how attached I was to it. How much of identity was tangled up in those strands. I have a whole new appreciation not only for my hair that I am fortunate enough to have, but also for the heartache it must be for a woman to permanently and/or totally lose her hair.
This article isn’t written with the idea of encouraging a gung-ho attitude towards hair loss. If something isn’t right with your hair-loss pattern, please go and see your doctor to make sure the problem isn’t a serious one. But at the same time, please don’t jump to scary conclusions. What you are going through may be a completely normal cycle for your body that will adjust and correct itself.
Just as importantly, don’t be afraid to talk about it. In fact, please do talk about it. If this subject was one we were actively talking about, and I’d known that the hair loss I was experiencing was quite common, I would have saved myself a few sleepless nights.
* Image courtesy of stock.xchng