Female Pattern Baldness

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 causes a wide gap in a woman's center hair part.
Gaps or hair loss in your center hair part occur in the early stages of female pattern baldness.

What is female pattern baldness?

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.

What are the stages of female pattern baldness?

There are five stages of female pattern baldness according to the Sinclair scale:

  • Stage 1: Little or no hair loss.
  • Stage 2: A slight gap appears in your center hair part.
  • Stage 3: A wider gap is present in your center hair part, and there’s hair loss on either side of your part line.
  • Stage 4: Bald spots appear toward the front of your hairline.
  • Stage 5: Advanced hair loss.

Can you reverse female pattern baldness?

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.

How common is female pattern baldness?

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.

How does female pattern baldness affect my body?

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 and Causes

What are the symptoms of female pattern baldness?

Symptoms of female pattern baldness include:

  • Hair thinning or hair loss around your center part.
  • A widening of your center part and hair thinning or hair loss on either side of your part.
  • Hair thinning or hair loss throughout the top of your head.

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.

Will I notice female pattern baldness if I don’t have a center part?

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.

Does female pattern baldness worsen?

Without treatment, female pattern baldness will get worse.

What causes female pattern baldness?

Causes and contributing factors of female pattern baldness include:

  • Age: The chances of getting female pattern baldness increase with age. Female pattern baldness affects about one-third of all women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) at some point during their lives. After menopause, about two-thirds of all women and people AFAB have thinning hair or total hair loss.
  • Hormones: The hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a type of androgen. Androgens are a group of sex hormones that help people enter puberty and mature physically. Physical developments include hair growth on their face, scalp, chest, underarms and genitals. After menopause, your hormone levels drop, which may affect your DHT levels. Medical experts and researchers think that there might be a link between DHT and your hair follicles shrinking.
  • Genetics: You’re more likely to have female pattern baldness if your first-degree relatives have hair loss.

What are the risk factors for female pattern baldness?

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.


Diagnosis and Tests

How is female pattern baldness diagnosed?

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.

What tests diagnose female pattern baldness?

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:

  • Examine your scalp for signs of infection.
  • Take a hair sample and send it to a lab for analysis.
  • Take a scalp biopsy to check for skin disease.
  • Conduct blood tests.

Management and Treatment

How is female pattern baldness treated?

There are many hair loss treatments for female pattern baldness. Treatments may include:

  • Medications: Over-the-counter medications you apply to your scalp, like minoxidil (Rogaine®), are usually the first course of treatment for female pattern baldness. A prescription oral medication, such as finasteride (Propecia®), can also treat female pattern baldness. Your healthcare provider may suggest using finasteride along with ketoconazole 2% shampoo.
  • Hair transplant: A healthcare provider takes skin grafts from areas of your body that contain healthy hair follicles and moves them to bald or thinning areas of your scalp.
  • Platelet-rich plasma: A healthcare provider removes blood from your body, processes it and then injects it into your scalp to stimulate hair growth.
  • Red light therapy: Your healthcare provider treats your scalp with a low-wavelength red light to improve hair growth.
  • Styling techniques: You may hide your female pattern baldness with certain hairstyles, wigs or hair weaves.

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.



Can female pattern baldness be prevented?

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:

  • Eat extra protein, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan. You need 40 to 60 grams of protein a day. The Mediterranean diet includes fruits, vegetables and protein that may help minimize hair loss.
  • Take vitamins. Certain vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, C, D, E, zinc and iron, help maintain healthy hair, skin and muscle tissue. But check with your healthcare provider first before starting any new supplements.
  • Find ways to cope with stress. Stress may trigger female pattern baldness by increasing activity in your androgens.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have female pattern baldness?

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.

Living With

When should I see a healthcare provider?

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.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  • How can you tell that I have female pattern baldness?
  • If I don’t have female pattern baldness, what’s causing my hair to fall out?
  • What medications or treatments do you recommend?
  • What’s the complete list of side effects of the medications and treatments?
  • What else can I do to prevent further hair loss?
  • Should I see a dermatologist or plastic surgeon?

Additional Common Questions

What is the difference between telogen effluvium and female pattern baldness?

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.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 05/03/2023.

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