I Found Out Why My Hair is Thicker After Menopause

Bebe Nicholson

There had to be a reason for my hair to be getting thicker at this stage of my life, after decades of thin hair.

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Photo by Valeriia Kogan on Unsplash

Last year, I decided to stop getting haircuts. A pandemic that closes businesses and encourages people to shelter in place seemed like a good time to let my hair grow.

But after a few months, I noticed something surprising. My hair wasn’t just growing longer. It was also getting thicker.

How could that be?

I've passed through menopause. In addition to adding spare tires to our waists and wrinkles to our faces, this transitional period of aging is supposed to make our hair thinner. I had been expecting it. But my hair was growing in better and thicker than ever before.

It wasn’t my imagination, either. The little bald patch that appeared at the back of my head when my hair wasn’t combed just right had disappeared.

I noticed the sink was no longer covered in hair when I used the blow dryer. Stray hairs weren’t everywhere in the bathroom, and people began to compliment me on how good my hair looked.

There had to be a reason for my hair to be getting thicker at this stage of my life, after decades of thin hair.

Pictures of me as a toddler show a chubby-cheeked kid with sparse tufts of lank, brown hair. When I got older, my hair was so fine that I tried perms, heat curlers, and a spray-in dry shampoo that was supposed to “lift hair from the roots” and make it magically thicker.

I envied my friends with long, thick tresses. I had to keep mine short to retain any volume at all.

At some point during high school, I even bought a “fall,” which was a hairpiece secured with headbands and bobby pins. I wore it until a boy who had a crush on me almost wrenched it loose, leading to a failed romance and an end to the hairpiece.

Major Hair Loss Was Normal for Me

One problem was that my hair fell out in copious amounts. There was always hair in the sink, hair clogging the shower, hair on the floor. There never seemed to be an end to how much hair I was always shedding; kind of like having a Saint Bernard around.

At times, I wondered if I was destined to go completely bald.

I even told the doctor about it when I was in my twenties. “Why does my hair fall out so much?” I complained, hoping he would come up with a magic formula for keeping hair on my head.

“Everybody loses a certain amount of hair each day. Hair follicles go through a life cycle, and then the hair falls out,” he said.

Gee, thanks.

The only time my hair was thick and luxurious was when I was pregnant. During each of my three pregnancies, the tremendous fallout ceased, at least for a few months, and I was left with the hair I had always dreamed of.

Little did I realize my head was just “saving up” for the huge hair loss that would take place after my babies were born. Then the shedding got so bad that I scrutinized my scalp for bald patches.

Let’s Hope I Have Some Hair left

I discovered post-pregnancy hair loss was normal. The body experiences soaring estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy, which causes the hair to remain in a growth stage, each strand remaining thicker and more lustrous.

But as soon as you have the baby and those pregnancy hormones diminish, hair enters a new stage: I call it the “Let’s hope I have some hair left when this is over” phase.

I endured another hormonal roller coaster ride through menopause, complete with hot flashes and night sweats that lasted for years.

By the time that stage was over, I wasn’t thinking much about my hair anymore. I had lived with hair fallout for a lot of decades without going bald.

But suddenly my hair was getting thicker, and I didn't know why. What had caused this unexpected change?

Every article and blog post about menopause indicated that hair thins out as we get older. Nothing new there. But there had to be an answer!

I have always exercised, kept my weight down, and been a fairly healthy eater. But healthy living had never thickened my hair before, so it wasn’t likely to make my hair thicker now.

I started wondering if supplements could have something to do with it.

I take several supplements that I didn’t take when I was younger. Could there be some ingredient in them that affected hair growth?

Deciding to find out, I grabbed my supplements, wrote down all the ingredients and started researching.

That’s when I made my big discovery. One of the supplements contained tocotrienols, a form of unsaturated vitamin E.

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Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

Tocotrienols are similar to tocopherols. Both are antioxidants, but they have very different functions in the body. Tocopherols are more abundant in food, so it is much easier for our bodies to miss out on tocotrienols, which are 40 to 60 times more potent than tocopherol.

During my research, as I read paragraph after paragraph of the benefits of tocotrienols, I came across the possible hair health connection.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Science Malaysia. Out of 38 recruited male and female volunteers who suffered hair loss, 21 volunteers were given mixed tocotrienol capsules twice a day for a period of 8 months (32 weeks). Seventeen other volunteers received placebo capsules.

Hair count and weight over a designated scalp area were taken at baseline, after 4 months, and at the end of 8 months. Then the collected data was analyzed statistically.

At the end of 8 months, researchers discovered that 95% of the volunteers in the tocotrienol group experienced hair growth. Forty percent had more than 50% hair growth! The placebo group, with the exception of one volunteer, continued with their pattern of hair loss.

According to researchers, tocotrienols belong to the vitamin E family and are known to be potent antioxidants. Together with tocopherols, tocotrienols contribute to fighting free radicals.

A varied diet with dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, olives, wheat germ, almonds and peanut butter can provide these two vitamin E compounds. But for hair health and growth, it is good to take a supplement rich in tocotrienols.

A double blind, placebo controlled study also showed that palm tocotrienol works in synergy with astaxanthin to improve dry skin and smooth fine wrinkles.

One supplement I had been taking for smoother skin included both tocotrienol and astaxanthin. Although I had been taking it for skin, the unexpected result was thicker hair.

At one point, I had considered saving money by discontinuing some of my supplements, but I won't be discontinuing that one. The other day my husband said, “Your hair looks thicker than it used to.”

And yesterday, when I was having lunch with a friend, she said, “I’m jealous of your hair. It looks so thick and healthy.”

Nobody had ever said that to me before. My supplements are here to stay.

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I've worked as editor, newspaper reporter, freelance writer, and book publisher. My writing includes lifestyle, humor, travel, relationship, family, politics, faith and health articles, along with three published books. In my various careers, I've been a journalist, retail manager, nonprofit director, flight attendant, freelancer and mom. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Medium.

Alpharetta, GA
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