Female pattern baldness is a very common type of hair loss that affects women and people assigned female at birth. Female pattern baldness usually starts after menopause. It’s reversible with treatment, which includes medications, red light therapy or styling techniques.
Female pattern baldness is a type of hair loss that affects women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB). It causes you to lose hair on the skin covering your head (scalp). Your hair doesn’t grow back without treatment.
You may hear your healthcare provider refer to female pattern baldness as female pattern hair loss or androgenic alopecia. The medical term for male pattern baldness is also androgenic alopecia. Male pattern baldness is similar to female pattern baldness but it affects people assigned male at birth.
There are five stages of female pattern baldness according to the Sinclair scale:
If you’ve lost hair from female pattern baldness, it won’t grow back without treatment. Proper treatment can stop hair loss and help regrow some hair.
Female pattern baldness is common. It’s the most significant cause of hair loss in women and people AFAB. Approximately 30 million women and people AFAB in the United States have female pattern baldness.
Female pattern baldness causes the small, tube-like structures in your scalp that grow your hair (hair follicles) to shrink gradually. As your hair follicles shrink, your individual hairs get thinner and shorter. Over time, those hairs stop growing.
Female pattern baldness doesn’t affect your physical health. But it can affect you psychosocially (how society and social groups affect your thoughts and emotions). It can also affect you psychologically (how you think about yourself and your behavior). You may experience emotional stress, anxiety and depression.
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Symptoms of female pattern baldness include:
Hair loss usually starts to appear near your center part. In the middle and later stages of female pattern baldness, you’ll lose hair on either side of your part and toward the front of your scalp.
Female pattern baldness doesn’t hurt. Many start to notice the early stages of female pattern baldness after menopause.
Female pattern baldness begins in the top-middle portion of your head. This falls around your center part, which is a natural line between the right and left sides of your hair. If you often style your hair to show a side part, you may not notice female pattern baldness immediately, but you’ll still see changes to the texture of your hair that indicate female pattern baldness near the center of your head.
Without treatment, female pattern baldness will get worse.
Causes and contributing factors of female pattern baldness include:
Female pattern baldness can affect anyone assigned female at birth. It can also happen at any age. Hair loss can affect you in your 20s and 30s. However, you’re more likely to have female pattern baldness if you have a family history of hair loss or after menopause.
Female pattern baldness is easy to recognize, so you don’t necessarily need a healthcare provider to diagnose it. However, a healthcare provider can confirm it during a physical exam of your scalp. They’ll ask you about your medical history, including when you started noticing hair loss and whether you have a family history of hair loss or baldness. Your provider will note the width of your center part and any areas of your scalp showing signs of thinning or balding.
Your healthcare provider may use a special tool called a densitometer to examine your scalp. A densitometer measures the thickness of your hair follicles.
If your healthcare provider suspects your hair loss isn’t related to female pattern baldness, they may:
There are many hair loss treatments for female pattern baldness. Treatments may include:
Treatment that works for one person may not work for another. Your healthcare provider will help you find a treatment option that’s right for you.
There’s no known way to prevent female pattern baldness. But there are ways to help keep your hair healthy that may promote hair growth, including:
Female pattern baldness is a treatable condition. Without proper treatment, female pattern baldness is permanent. Many people with female pattern baldness are comfortable with how they look and don’t seek treatment. However, your healthcare provider can help slow or replace your hair loss.
If female pattern baldness affects your emotional well-being, your healthcare provider may recommend you meet with a mental health professional.
Many people choose not to see a healthcare provider if they have female pattern baldness. But if you’d like to maintain your hair, you should call a healthcare provider as soon as you notice hair loss on your scalp.
Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that involves rapid hair shedding over a short period. It typically happens a few months after your body goes through something physically or emotionally stressful. It can also result from sudden hormonal changes. Hair loss due to telogen effluvium is usually temporary. Your hair often grows back without treatment once you no longer have stress.
Female pattern baldness is a type of hair loss that’s more gradual than telogen effluvium. It’s not known exactly what causes female pattern baldness. Without medications or treatment, hair loss due to female pattern baldness is permanent.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Female pattern baldness is a common condition that affects many women and people assigned female at birth after menopause. Many people with female pattern baldness accept it as part of the aging process and don’t see a healthcare provider. However, it can negatively affect your mental health. Reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as you notice signs of female pattern baldness, especially if it causes stress, anxiety or depression. Medications and treatments are available that can stop or reverse female pattern baldness.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/03/2023.
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