Hair Loss In College Women: What Causes It & How To Stop It

Just your normal morning routine: drag your half-conscious butt out of bed, shower, get dressed, start brushing your hair… What the crap?!? Did all that come from me!?!?

If you’ve ever glanced down at your hairbrush and found a sizable clump of freshly-pulled hair, or looked at your hair and realized it appeared way thinner than it used to be, you know how frightening it can be. For many women, our hair is closely tied to our self-image. We style it to express our personality and style; bad hair days can leave us feeling crappy and dirty hair is one of the first things that makes us crave a shower. With all that in mind, imagine how frightening it would be to have to deal with your hair thinning and falling out on a daily basis!

Hair loss is actually a growing phenomenon in young women. Contrary to popular belief, men aren’t the only ones who endure some type of thinning or hair loss. According to Livestrong.com, hair loss actually affects around 40-50% of women! According to a recent article in Marie Claire, the average age of women experiencing hair loss is 30. If you heard it was something you only had to worry about post-menopause, you’re wrong! The only thing women are spared from is the receding hairline characteristic of many balding men—women usually see a general all-over thinning, with perhaps a slight concentration of hair loss at the center part.

Whether you know someone who’s dealing with this, or it’s your own hair that’s starting to thin or fall out, here we cover some of the most likely culprits. You should definitely talk to your doctor if this is happening, but—good news—chances are it’s something that’s easily treatable.

What’s Normal Hair Loss?

The average woman has around a hundred thousand hairs on her head, which grows an average of half an inch a month. When hair falls out—which is does naturally after around four years of growing—it is eventually replaced by a fresh hair in the follicle. On a daily basis it’s normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands, but if you’re seeing large clumps of hair coming out all at once or noticing a gradual thinning on the scalp over time, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.

What’s Causing It?

There are dozens of health conditions, as well as a variety of lifestyle factors, that can lead to hair loss or thinning. Sometimes it’s just genetic—this is the sad truth behind many cases—but here are a few other likely culprits behind your hair falling out:

Birth Control
Little known side effect of birth control: the hormones suppressing ovulation can cause hair loss. It’s more likely if you have a genetic predisposition to hair loss, i.e., if you have family members who have experienced hair loss. Sometimes hair loss will actually begin after you’ve stopped taking birth control pills. The American Hair Loss Association (yes, that’s a real thing) has a list of oral contraceptives that have been linked to hair loss. The major factor is the “androgen index,” or the level of the hormone androgen, which in itself can cause hair to thin in some women. If you think this is happening (maybe you’re on birth control for the first time, maybe you just started a new kind of birth control), talk to your gyno!

Hypothyroidism

Problems with the thyroid—the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the throat—are a typical culprit that doctors look for when examining a patient suffering hair loss. The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that monitor everything from your metabolism to your heart rate to even your moods. A blood test can tell you quite effectively whether or not you have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid.

Your Ponytail
Yes, wearing your hair in tight, restricting styles that pull on your scalp can not only give you a headache and wrinkles, but can also damage your hair follicles to the point where your hair starts to thin. If you style your hair in cornrows or tight braids, be warned: this type of hair loss can be permanent, because you are doing direct damage to the hair follicle itself, preventing its ability to re-grow the strands that come out. Go easy on your scalp and try to opt for loose styles like a messy bun, or simply use clips or scrunchies instead of more restricting hair elastics. Your hair will thank you. If you have to use an elastic, try Sephora’s Snag-Free Hair Elastics or Goody Ouchless Gentle Hair Elastics.

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