During the years surrounding menopause, you may not always feel like yourself. Hormone fluctuations can cause symptoms such as mood swings and night sweats —common perimenopause and menopause symptoms that some women find severe — that may make you feel downright strange. Those features are frustrating enough, but more unusual menopause symptoms may leave you thinking “Seriously?”
One such symptom is hair loss — the silver lining is it’s rarely total — and others include breast pain, burning mouth syndrome and dry skin. Your primary care or women’s health provider can recommend treatments for these and other unusual menopause symptoms.
What Is Female Pattern Hair Loss?
Also known as androgenetic alopecia, female pattern hair loss is thinning of the hair that can occur for a variety of reasons. Higher-than-normal male hormone levels play a role in the development of this unusual menopause symptom. Women’s bodies typically make small amounts of these hormones called androgens. High androgen levels can shorten the growth cycle of hair and make individual strands shorter and thinner, according to the National Institutes of Health. For some women, female pattern hair loss is a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.
Postmenopausal women have the highest risk of female pattern hair loss. It’s different from hair loss in men, who tend to develop a receding hairline and, often, a bald spot on top of their head. In women, female pattern hair loss starts thinning at the part line but doesn’t usually progress to baldness.
Hair Loss Treatments
Medications are the most common treatment for female pattern hair loss. Minoxidil, a medicated solution that you massage into your scalp, may help restore lost hair, but it won’t be as thick as before. This medicine typically takes at least two months to show results, and you’ll have to keep using it to maintain them.
If minoxidil isn’t effective, an anti-androgen — a medicine that blocks male hormones — may be a good option. Another treatment, hair transplantation, involves removing tiny pieces of your scalp that are home to healthy hair and planting them in areas of thinning.
More Unusual Menopause Symptoms
- Breast pain. Like several perimenopause and menopause symptoms, breast pain, or mastalgia, can occur due to other conditions, so be sure to see a medical provider to rule out other causes. Breast pain usually goes away on its own. In the meantime, pain medications, hot and cold compresses, and a well-fitting sports bra may help.
- Burning mouth syndrome. This condition can cause a burning or tingling sensation in your mouth, lips or tongue. What causes this condition is unclear, but it’s more common leading up to and after menopause. Staying hydrated and avoiding hot, spicy and acidic foods may help. Your medical provider may recommend a medication or ointment to ease discomfort.
- Dry skin. Skin care is key around menopause, partly because your skin doesn’t store as much water as before. To counteract dryness, replace your soap with a gentle cleanser and apply a moisturizer regularly.
No matter what symptoms you experience in the years leading up to and after menopause, don’t assume that all you can do is try to wait them out. Treatments are available.
Find a Provider
If you need help managing menopause symptoms, a St. Elizabeth Physicians women’s health provider in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana can help. Make an appointment with one of our specialists today