Research on hair loss in women
The effects of female hair loss on women’s psychological wellbeing – Women suffering in silence.
Research launched (independent survey of 3,016 women) to assess the impact of female hair loss has highlighted that well over three quarters (84%) of women suffer from low esteem and over a third of women (34%) feel depressed as a result of their hair thinning. Whilst society fully accepts that men suffer from hair loss, 97% of respondents think that women are embarrassed to admit hair loss as society considers it socially unacceptable.
The extensive research provides an insight into the numbers of women suffering from hair loss and the psychological impact that it has on all areas of their lives. According to research and experts, female hair loss and thinning is becoming more prevalent in our society and GP’s are often ill-equipped to understand the causes. Over half of the women surveyed (55%) said that their GP would be their first port of call for hair loss advice, and this in fact may be the wrong course of action to take.
Over half of women are suffering. Female hair loss is a common problem with well over half of respondents (65%) saying that they know women who suffer from hair loss. More than 1 in 3 women (37%) suffer themselves with hair loss.
Registered Trichologist, Sara Allison commented, “These statistics are compatible with what I see in my practice. I think it’s important for society to understand that female hair loss and hair thinning is more prevalent than they are aware of. Nearly three quarters of my clients are women, (their average age being 35-45 years old). More women tend to seek help because hair loss is so much more devastating than it is for a man. Female hair loss has not been widely accepted by society so when female clients initially see me they are so distressed and they often breakdown in tears. Hair loss can have numerous causes, but the most common are hormonal, stress and nutritional. Unfortunately the latter two reasons are becoming increasingly more prevalent in our modern society as we are all leading more emotionally stressful lives and are more nutritionally deficient than the Victorians. This in turn is reflected in the higher incidence of hair loss in women than ever before. Women often don’t know why they are losing their hair or where to turn for professional advice. Those that do seek advice will usually go to their GP’s as their first port of call. However, GP’s have not only limited time, but also a limited understanding about trichology (the science of hair), and they often cannot give enough support or the right diagnostic tests or even if they do the right tests they fail to interpret the results correctly.”
Hair loss Impacts on women’s sex lives and personal lives
Over half of women suffering from hair loss (52 %) find themselves making excuses not to have sex with their partner because they feel low / less attractive as a result of their hair loss. Well over three quarters of women (86%) say that the issue of hair loss makes them feel / would make them feel less attractive to their partner. Over a quarter of women (28%) say that their personal lives have suffered as a result of hair loss.
Dr Linda Papadopolous, a world-renowned psychologist commented, “In Western culture, hair is bound up in notions of femininity, youth and sexual attractiveness. It is therefore understandable that the results of this study found that over half of women find themselves making excuses not to have sex with their partner as a result of feeling less attractive.”
Difficulty to find a soulmate
Almost 1 in 5 women (19%), say hair loss has impacted on all areas of their lives including their sex lives, social lives, personal lives and work lives. Well over a third of women (39%) said that their partner is most likely to suffer vicariously as a result of their hair loss. Almost all women (96%) said that suffering from hair loss may impact on them meeting a new partner.
Psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopolous commented, “Because a woman’s hair is both immediately visible and plays a big part in value judgements made about health, youth and attractiveness, the experience of thinning hair is bound to be anxiety provoking and raise issues about body image and self esteem. As in the case of many dermatological conditions, there can be stigma attached to hair loss for women.”
Hair loss and depression
Over a third of women (34%) said that hair loss leaves them feeling depressed / low. Psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopolous comments, “We live in such an appearance driven society that our looks often become one of the largest factors contributing to our self esteem. The fact that so many women said that hair loss leaves them feeling depressed / low, suggests that our hair is highly bound up in our body image. Because our hair is also one of the malleable aspects of our appearance, once we lose the sense of control we have over it, it’s not surprising that it has the potential to affect mood and self esteem.”
- More than 1 in 10 women (12%) said that they feel alone as a result of hair loss as no one can tell them why it is occurring.
- Over half of women (55%) feel less attractive as a result of hair loss.
- More than 1 in 6 women (18%) avoid social situations as they feel self-conscious / less attractive than they used to look.
What are the reasons for female hair loss?
According to female hair loss sufferers, they feel that the top four reasons for hair loss are:
- Stress (36%)
- Medication (11%)
- Poor diet (10%)
- Pregnancy / post pregnancy (10%)
Registered Trichologist, Sara G Allison commented, “I would agree that these statistics reflect what women themselves believe to be the cause of their hair loss. However, as a professional, I would rank poor diet to be a much higher cause than the women themselves actually perceive it. Hair is essentially the least important tissue of your body; therefore, your hair only receives nutrients if there are any remaining in the body after your vital organs have taken what they need to function. Hence, if there are no surplus nutrients, your hair will suffer. So you might not be clinically ill, but your hair needs you to be in optimum health in all respects including nutritionally.”
“A vitamin supplement such as Hair Today More Tomorrow, Multi & Omegas helps women to maintain healthy hair growth, strength and condition.”
Female hair loss has not been accepted by society
- 90% of women think that society views male hair loss as more acceptable than female hair loss.
- 96% of women think that men are better able to still feel attractive when losing hair than women.
- 96% of women agreed that hair loss may contribute to feelings of depression.
Psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopoulous commented, “There is a real gender split when it comes to issues of body image, and hair loss is a stark example of this- whereas for men, it is seen as a natural progression of maturity or age, for women it is perceived as a loss of their femininity or sexuality and as such can potentially cause a lot of distress, leading to anxiety and low mood and compromising ones quality of life.”
Registered Trichologist, Sara Allison commented “I would agree with this and indeed many of my clients are so affected because, they feel that it is socially unacceptable to suffer with hair loss. They feel terribly self conscious and think everyone is noticing their hair; this creates a low self esteem, and confidence levels. Some have complained how they feel they’ve been turned down for jobs due to their hair. Relationships can break down due to the woman’s anxiety and social contact is generally avoided”
What women think of female hair loss sufferers
When asked about women’s perceptions of other women who suffer from hair loss:
- Almost half of women (47%) said that they would think someone was suffering from a serious medical condition if their hair was thinning.
- Almost a quarter of women (24%) think it is one of the worst things that can happen to women.
- 15% would pity someone suffering from hair loss.
Psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopoulous commented, “There are numerous myths about hair-loss and those centring around the belief that someone is very ill means that one has to contend not only with prejudice but prejudices founded on myth rather than fact. Challenging these myths and getting the right type of social and emotional support is vital when dealing with such stigma.”
Over half of respondents (52%) think that there isn’t enough information available to women regarding hair loss.
Registered Trichologist, Sara G Allison commented, “GP’s don’t have the time, the understanding or the knowledge to help hair loss sufferers. This survey will go some way to show people that it is very common for women to suffer from hair loss at some stage in their lives and this isn’t just a male problem”.
Women binging on food as a result of hair loss
As a result of hair loss:
- 22% resort to comfort eating.
- 20% of women avoid going to the hairdresser.
- 10% cancel seeing their friends or family.
Psychologist, Linda Papadopoulous commented, “Our body image and self esteem has the potential to significantly affect our quality of life, as a consequence, when faced with a condition that affects one’s body image like hair loss, may women resort to dysfunctional coping mechanisms like becoming avoidant, shying away from social situations and limiting contact even from those who could potentially be good sources of social support.”
Where to turn when sufferering from hair loss
The top three things women would do if they were trying to improve their hair when suffering from hair loss is:
- Consult a specialist (41%)
- Take a supplement specially formulated for hair loss (19%)
- Change their diet (9%)
Registered Trichologist, Sara G Allison commented, “In today’s society, it is so much more difficult to get the right nutrients in our diet, plus the media pressure on women to stay thin, often means that they simply don’t eat enough to get all the nutrients or they are not eating the right foods. Even if you do take extra dietary care it is so difficult to get what our bodies need from the way food is produced in modern society, bizarrely we are actually more nutritionally deficient than the Victorians were. For this reason if you are suffering with hair problems then Hair Today More Tomorrow, Multi & Omegas provides the specific essential vitamins and minerals needed to help maintain healthy hair growth.”
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