Sometimes, hair loss is due to an underlying medical condition such as lupus, polycystic ovary syndrome, a thyroid problem, anemia or hormonal imbalances. Hair loss can also be a side effect of medication such as ibuprofen, antidepressants, hypertension drugs, anticoagulants and chemotherapy.
Once a doctor establishes that pattern baldness is the cause of the hair loss, women can consider treatment. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is the only medical therapy available to women; it's been found to help women maintain the hair they still have. The 2 percent minoxidil formula is marketed to women specifically, and the 5 percent formula is marketed to men.
Most hair-loss specialists, however, recommend that women with significant hair loss use the 5 percent formula, though they need to be cautious about keeping the minoxidil off their face in order to avoid unwanted facial hair.
Hair transplantation is also available to many women with pattern baldness. Older transplantation techniques were not appropriate for most women because the transplanted hair damaged any hair follicles in the recipient area.
As Limmer explains, this was a problem in women because, unlike men, they usually have hair in their balding zone. With today's techniques, however, hair transplants surgeons can place grafts around the remaining hair.
So although women today continue to struggle with hair loss, more treatments are available to them. As with other conditions affecting women, it's time for hair loss to come out of the closet — so women can openly seek a diagnosis and weigh their treatment options.