Female pattern hair loss is a hereditary condition that affects about 30 million American women, mostly when they are in their late 50s or 60s.

Normally, each time a normal hair follicle is shed it is replaced by hair that is equal in size. But in women with female pattern hair loss, their new hair tends to be finer and thinner, their hair follicles start shrinking - and eventually their hair stops growing altogether.

Here are three things you need to know about hair loss in women:

  1. News flash - women also have the hormone testosterone, just not as much as men. Hair loss in women, also known as female pattern baldness, is different than in men - although health experts don’t completely understand how yet.
  2. The pattern of hair loss in women is different from that of men. This may be because the receptor sites for hormones and enzymes are located at different spots on the scalp in women relative to men. Another difference is that women can lose their hair at any age.
  3. Some women experience a temporary change in hair growth after childbirth. Hair loss may also be an underlying symptom of a hormonal problem commonly seen in women known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Other causes of hair loss in women include anemia, certain medications and autoimmune disorders.

In order for a woman to receive the right treatment, she must get the right diagnosis. Her healthcare giver needs to treat any underlying condition that may be responsible for hair loss first. This means getting the necessary tests, such as blood tests or a biopsy of the scalp. Although some have suggested a link between menopause and hair loss, not everyone is convinced there is a direct correlation between them.

The most common cause of female pattern baldness appears to be increased production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in hair follicles with aging. Today, effective medications prevent hair loss either by increasing blood flow and nutrient supply to hair follicles and/or directly blocking DHT production.