Women and hair loss: coping tips

Alopecia
Alopecia

Losing your crowning glory can be particularly difficult for women. But there are ways to cope.

Losing your hair as a woman, especially if you’re young or at a vulnerable time in your life, can badly affect your confidence.

Jackie McKillop, Alopecia UK spokesperson and junior nursing sister at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, says society considers hair to be an important part of how you look:

“For women, there is a social stigma attached to going bald,” she says. “Hair loss can affect your sensuality and how you perceive yourself. There are usually emotional trials and tribulations when it happens.

“Some women question whether their partner will still love them. I’ve known others become socially reclusive and give up enjoyable activities like swimming and going to the gym, because they can’t bear using the communal changing rooms for fear of their hair loss being discovered.”

Hair loss, known medically as alopecia, is common. It’s estimated, for instance, that around 50% of women over the age of 65 experience female-pattern baldness – the most common type of hair loss, which is thought to be inherited.

Different types of hair loss

There are lots of different types of hair loss. It can take the form of “thinning” or involve a total loss of hair. It can be gradual or sudden; it can affect the old and the young.

Hair loss can be genetic, or as a result of extreme stress, a medical condition or treatment.

Hair loss is a well-known side effect of chemotherapy, and around 50% of women lose more hair than usual after they’ve given birth.

Hair loss treatments

Jackie McKillop, who has herself lost all her hair, says it can help to address the physical aspects of hair loss. Try to find out everything you can about hair loss and the treatment options available to you.

A proven treatment for female-pattern baldness is a hair lotion containing minoxidil. After using it, most women see improvements, including a slowing or stopping altogether of balding, as well as thicker hair. Up to 25% of women experience hair regrowth while using it.

Always contact your GP or dermatologist for advice before starting or finishing any treatments or medication for alopecia.

Find out about hair loss treatments that work.

Ways to cope with hair loss

It’s also important to address the psychological impact of hair loss. If you’ve lost your hair, even temporarily, life will be easier if you can accept what’s happened and learn to live with your altered appearance.

“How well you cope with looking at yourself in the mirror depends on your coping strategies, personality, self-esteem and the support around you,” says Jackie. “It’s really important to try to promote positivity in your life.”

Here are some useful self-help tips:

Share stories: It helps to know you’re not alone. Watch this video of a woman’s personal experience of alopecia, read this real-life story of Michelle Chapman who was diagnosed with alopecia when she was five. Read the comments at the end of this article to see how others cope.

Join a support group: There are groups around the country where you can meet and socialise with other people with alopecia. Find your nearest Alopecia UK support group.

Go online: If you prefer to go online to talk to others, join Alopecia UK’s discussion forum.

Accept it: It’s not easy, but try to come to terms with your hair loss. One way to do this is to make a list of all your good qualities and focus your energy on celebrating these attributes.

Talk about it: Discuss your hair loss with your friends, family and loved ones, preferably early on. Let them know how you feel about it and what kind of support you need. If hair loss is affecting your relationship with your partner, going to therapy or couples counselling may help.

Cover up: Look into disguising and covering up your hair loss with things like wigs, hair extensions, scarves and make-up. Persevere until you find a product and style that suits you. “Equally, you may prefer not to cover up at all. Whatever works best for you,” says Jackie.

If you have hair loss that you find difficult to cover up (around 50% hair loss or more), or your hair loss is a result of cancer treatment, you could be eligible for a wig on the NHS. Find out about NHS wigs.

Be patient: many cases of hair loss in women are temporary. That said, regrowth is unpredictable and can take years. Remember that your new hair can be any texture and colour.

Avoid miracle cures: don’t be taken in by claims for wonder products. There are no cures for female hair loss.

“There are lots of snakeoil products out there. Usually the greater the claim, the greater the letdown,” says Jackie McKillop. Her advice is to stick to products recommended in the British Association of Dermatologists’ clinical guidelines (PDF, 85kb).

You can read more articles on all aspects of hair loss, including the different types, its diagnosis and treatment.

Endometriosis: Michelle’s story. What are the signs and symptoms of Endometriosis?

Endometriosis
Endometriosis

Endometriosis: Michelle’s story

Michelle Middleton from Silsden, West Yorkshire, became unwell after the birth of her son when she was 28. She was diagnosed with endometriosis at 29. 

“After I had my son Leo, I didn’t go back on the pill. I’d been taking it since I was 14 and, looking back, I think it masked my endometriosis symptoms”, says Michelle.

Symptoms of endometriosis

In endometriosis, cells of the womb lining appear elsewhere in the body, for example around the bowel. They bleed in response to the menstrual cycle, causing pain, swelling and scar tissue (adhesions). Symptoms vary, and some women don’t notice any at all, but for others it’s unbearable.

Says Michelle: “My periods had always been painful but not intolerable. Although I had irregular bleeding when I was 18 or 19, nobody mentioned endometriosis. They changed my contraceptive pill to see if that would help, and the results of a cervical smear test showed irregularities. This led to a colposcopy (a procedure that examines the cells in the womb), and pre-cancerous cells were removed.

“I’d also had trouble with my bowels – bloating, diarrhoea and sometimes bleeding. I know now that these can be symptoms of endometriosis.”

Read more about endometriosis symptoms.

“At 25 I came off the pill to start my family. I got pregnant quickly, but miscarried. My second and third pregnancies happened soon after, and although Alana and Leo were premature, they’re both fine.

“After having Leo, my periods were heavier and I gradually started becoming unwell. The main symptom was fatigue. Pushing the baby buggy up a hill was exhausting.

“Then, last summer, I had severe pain during intercourse. Endometriosis adhesions are fibrous, like a web, and can join organs together. Apparently my ovary is attached to my bowel, and this could be causing the pain. I also had a bad bout of bleeding after sex. I bled for about a week.”

Unusual bleeding is a sign of endometriosis

“The first GP I saw told me to wait and see what happened, but I didn’t want to do that, so I saw another doctor. He gave me medication to stop the bleeding, sent me for an ultrasound scan and referred me to a gynaecological consultant. The scan showed a small cyst on one of my ovaries, but they said this was nothing to worry about.

“At my consultant appointment, I was referred for a laparoscopy (a surgical procedure in which the abdomen is examined with a tiny camera). It’s the only way to diagnose endometriosis definitely. When I went back for my follow-up, the consultant said, ‘Well, you’ve got endometriosis’,” recalls Michelle.

Endometriosis treatments

“I’d never heard of it. He didn’t really explain what it was, but said they’d put me in a fake menopause with injections of a drug called Zoladex plus hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to combat side effects such as hot flushes.

“I was hurrying to pick up the kids from nursery, and I think I was in shock because I didn’t ask any questions, which isn’t like me. I had the injection, and when I got home I thought, ‘What have I done?’.

“The injection helped reduce the pain during sex, but it affectedly me badly. At first I felt great. I had so much energy. But it soon got worse. I was exhausted and emotional. I felt as though I had premenstrual syndrome every day. My bowels caused problems, and I became really bloated.

“After two months I came off the HRT and felt better. I stayed on Zoladex for four months, and stopped having periods during that time. I’ve been offered another course of Zoladex, but I’ve decided to wait for a few months before taking it.”

Read more about endometriosis treatments.

Living with endometriosis

Michelle is now trying to live life with endometriosis as naturally as she can.

“I want to let my menstrual cycle get back to normal, and I’m keeping a diary of my symptoms so I can relate them to my cycle. I’m trying natural ways to improve my health. I eat more healthily, I’ve stopped having caffeine, I’m jogging, and I feel much better.

“The pain during sex has returned, which is disappointing.

“If a woman has been diagnosed with endometriosis, I’d want to reassure her that she’s not alone. People worry about how the illness will progress, but it’s different for everyone.

“If you go to internet message boards and read about people who have a very bad experience of endometriosis, try to be objective. There will be people who no longer write messages because they feel better and are getting on with their lives.”

World Contraception Day – How much do you know about contraception? Take our quiz!

How much do you know about contraception?
How much do you know about contraception?

Monday 26th September is World Contraception Day, perhaps one of the more important ‘Awareness Days’ of the year. First launched in 2007, the aim is to inform young people to help them make more sensible and smart choices regarding their sexual lifestyle.

According to Public Health England, people aged 15 to 24 make up around 36% of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, genital warts, herpes and syphilis diagnoses in 2015. However it’s not only young people who need to be informed. Shockingly, a survey that the Family Planning Association ran found that 68% of the general public had never had a STI test.

To help test your knowledge this Contraception Day, charity Plan UK have put together a new quiz with various questions about different types of contraception and sexual health myths from around the world. Although a lot of the myths featured in quiz seem quite harmless, they do have a serious impact on sexual health and well-being around the world.

Take the quiz here: http://www.plan-uk.org/news/news-and-features/contraception-myths/

How Chocolate Craving in Perimenopause Results in Weight Gain

Menopause and Chocolate
Menopause and Chocolate

Before menopause, many physical changes take place during a transitional period known as perimenopause. This transitional period can last from 4 to 8 years and usually takes place anywhere between the ages 40 and 51. The usual symptoms of perimenopause are hot flashes and night sweats. Another common symptom women notice is weight gain. While weight gain in perimenopause can partially be attributed to the fluctuating hormone levels, other factors such as dietary habits such as frequent chocolate consumption also play a great role in perimenopause weight gain. If you’ve been experiencing noticeable weight gain lately and are a victim of frequent chocolate cravings, we offer some explanations these cravings may be influencing your weight.

Why women crave chocolate

First of all, we need to understand what exactly are chocolate cravings. Food cravings refer to an intense desire to eat certain foods, and in this case, this food is chocolate. Food cravings are extremely common with 97% of women and 68% of men reporting food cravings at some point in their life. Food cravings are commonly associated with either nutritional deficiencies or low mood. Chocolate as a food is high in magnesium which is why it was proposed in one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association to be due to magnesium deficiencies. However, there are plenty of other foods with a higher magnesium content but that do not cause such cravings which is why this same study concluded that the combination of taste, nutrients, psychoactive ingredients, hormonal fluctuations, and mood cause chocolate cravings in women.

Hormones and the perimenopause

Menstruation during perimenopause become irregular due to fewer follicles being released from the ovaries and a decrease in estrogen according to an article published in Menopause. The decline in estrogen levels can lead to mood disorders in perimenopausal women as hormones play a large role in the regulation of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Furthermore, these same hormonal changes can in themselves lead to unpredictable weight gain and changes in body composition which can be mitigated with the right menopause treatments such as hormone replacement therapy.

Chocolate cravings and mood

Since women are vulnerable to both weight gain and mood problems during the menopause transition, this could indicate that their chocolate cravings may increase in frequency due to lower levels of estrogen and that they will more easily gain weight at this time in their life as well. One bar of dark chocolate contains as much as 605 calories. Milk chocolate may provide even more calories because it is higher in sugar and fat content. Premenopausal women usually experience chocolate cravings before and during their period. But perimenopausal women don’t have predictable cycles and their food cravings might last even longer due to lower estrogen levels. This might result in a lower overall mood for greater periods of time in the perimenopausal woman which might cause her to have chocolate cravings more frequently.

Other factors
While fluctuating hormones may lead low mood and higher chocolate intake by perimenopausal women, others believe that our habit of regulating our emotions with candy might stem from our cultural background. Dr. Amy Jo Stavnezer, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, explains in Psychology Today that American women, in particular, are more prone to chocolate craving because their culture encourages the idea of chocolate as comfort food in times of stress. This notion was further confirmed in a study on the prevalence of chocolate cravings in women of different cultural backgrounds. The study which was published in Appetite found that up to 60% of American women claimed to have chocolate cravings before their periods in comparison with only 24% of Spanish women. Besides chocolate, other ways you could find relief from perimenopause mood swings is with specially designed menopause product.

Chocolate as addictive but fattening food

Since hormones are not the only cause of chocolate cravings in perimenopausal women, we have to ask what other factors lead to chocolate cravings and weight gain during this period in a woman’s life. Another factor that may play a role is addiction. Relying on chocolate to boost your mood with its high carbohydrate content may cause addictive behavior. This was found to be true in a study on mice which found the mice exhibited behavioral and physical changes in response to sugar consumption.

Conclusion
Perimenopause is a period when many physiological and emotional changes take place. The fluctuating hormones and their effects on a woman’s mood may lead to more frequent chocolate cravings. Since chocolate is highly caloric and since women gain weight easily during this period of their life, chocolate cravings can easily cause unpredictable weight gain. While it may be easier to ask your physician to prescribe medicine for joint pain relief ,for instance, it is also important you address mood problems especially if you are a woman going through menopause in which case your physician may suggest products like Brisdelle.

Author Bio:

Annie Lizstan works as a health and beauty consultant for online websites and an independent researcher by profession. She had completed her studies from university of Arizona and live in Wasilla, Alaska. She always like to explore her ideas about health, fitness and  beauty . In her recent period ,she got an opportunity to explore best skin brighteners. She has experience researching as a passion as well as profession. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Pregnancy Month by Month – check out this Gifogaphic

Pregnancy Month by Month – check out this Gifogaphic

What do you think of this animated infographic. Now called a Gifogaphic by the way!

What do you think of it as a way of sharing information about pregnancy?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Pregnancy gifographics
Courtesy of: pregnant