I started to notice a loss of hair density when I was 19 years old. At first, I thought it was because I moved to a dry climate, but after time passed, I realized that this was not the case. I had thick, natural curly, wavy hair when I was young. My hair loss has been very gradual, but I feel as though it has accelerated in the last three years. I don’t notice my part getting bigger I just feel loss of density all over my head. I’ve been to three dermatologists and have taken all the tests. Everything comes back normal except for my iron. (Side note: I was diagnosed with anemia back in 2002 and went on iron supplements back then.) My dermatologist advised me to go on iron supplements and spirnolactone. She said I won’t notice a difference in hair density for at least a year after taking the supplements. So far, it has been almost 4 months since I started taking the iron supplements and I haven’t noticed a difference. I don’t shed as much during the day or while I take a shower. However, I lose a lot of hair when I brush. I’d say 150+ hairs. She said that if the iron doesn’t work, that I probably have androgenetic alopecia and because I’m losing hair all over my head, hair replacement surgery is not an option. I haven’t had a scalp biopsy done. I’d like to, but my dermatologist didn’t think it was necessary.
I feel I should also mention my family history. My mother has a full head of hair and she is 63. My dad is just now at age 62, losing his hair, but it could be due to his thyroid condition. My bother is losing hair and he is 33. My grandmother on my mom’s side has hair, my grandfather, however had hair loss. My grandmother on my dad’s side had thin, fine hair, but my dad said he couldn’t recall seeing her scalp. My other grandfather had a full head of hair. So, hair loss is in my family.
With all this said, I’ve gone through a wave of emotions. I’ve had sleepless nights and some crying fits. However, I’ve realized that if this is the worst thing that could happen to me, I’ll take it. My fiancé (who has been so supportive) understands my pain, but has stated that he doesn’t care if I’m bald or not. He’ll love me for who I am and NOT my hair. My only advice to woman losing their hair is that it’s ok to cry about it, but please don’t let it consume your life. Life is too short to worry about your hair.
It seems 8 years of hair loss ( the same amount of time I’ve been losing my hair) has caused you to do a little bit of soul searching. It’s healthy and it really helps to put things into perspective, once when can get to that place. I don’t think I had my little soul searching excursion till about a year ago or so. Your words “Life is too short to worry about your hair” couldn’t be more eloquently or clearly stated. It is the truth plain and simple, but this reality and truth really packs quite the punch and is so very hard to accept.
You checked the hair loss family tree and realized the genetic component of hair loss is there. As is the case for some many of us, those genes often lying dormant till one day they become awakened for whatever reason. I realize your doctor isn’t too keen on the scalp biopsy, but if you think it would provide help or informational closure you should definitely get it done by someone willing to do it. I would get a scalp biopsy if I had doubt about whether or not I was suffering from chronic telogen effluvium or androgenetic alopecia, unfortunately for me there is not doubt that I have female pattern hair loss, which renders the test useless for me.
What your dermatologist stated about it taking quite awhile to see improvement in the hair after beginning treatment is true. Hair growth is a very slow process, but usually I think something can be seen around the 6 month mark, although it may take longer for some people. It may just start off with a reduction in shedding, which is half battle right there. You didn’t mention whether or not you decided to go for the spironolactone treatment, if you did what dosage did you get started on?
With regards to the emotional nature of hair loss, the crying and lack of sleep I’ve previously written that I liken losing your hair to the 5 stages of grief and mourning:
I too have had more than my share of uncontrollable crying episodes, times I didn’t get out of bed and just horrible horrible depression. But as people we are innately so strong, our body and mind have an unbelievable capacity for coping and adapting to difficult and new situations. What is the alternative right? This is the life we’ve been given, the hand we’ve been dealt and we have to do the best we can with it. I often cried “this is so unfair to happen to me now, I’m so young” but Inevitably I always hear my mom’s words she use to tell me as a kid when I’d complain I couldn’t have the latest doll or easy bake oven… “Life isn’t fair” I doubt she had this in mind when she said it, but it true none-the-less.
I encourage women to make educated decisions they can live with regarding treatment and definitely to find the right physician to help them tackle the difficult task of figuring out what is causing the hair loss. By no means give up hope, I practically live off the stuff I live by believing I’ve done and continue to do all I could have to helped myself in treating my hair loss, it is out of my hands now. I hope my hair loss will stabilize, and while I’ll look like a woman with very thin hair, hopefully it’ll be enough get by.
I’m so glad you have a supportive man by your side, it really helps to have someone there who will listen and understand, and in the end love you for you, not for the amount of hairs attached to your head. That’s the way it should be. Thanks Sarah for writing and not only sharing your story but your hair loss wisdom as well.