It’s uncommon to see women who have genetic hair loss known as female hair loss or female androgenetic alopecia. When it does occur, it manifests in a pattern that is different from men. Diagnosis of hair loss in women is done with the help of the Ludwig Classification System described previously.
About 10% of women who do undergo genetic female pattern balding exhibit a hair loss pattern similar to men, but the frontal hairline stays in tact and hair loss takes place behind this line. Sometimes the loss reaches the swirl in the rear section of the crown where the hair changes direction and extends outwards evenly around the head.
The other 90% of women who undergo genetic female balding do so according the unique pattern for women. Occasionally, when a woman persists with female pattern hair loss, increased androgen (testosterone) production may be a contributing factor. The following signs and symptoms suggest that specific blood tests might be appropriate to rule out underlying sources of excess androgen:
Irregular periods – for an extended period of time
Cystic acne – severe acne which usually leaves scars
Hirsuitism – increased body hair that doesn’t normally run in your family
Virilization – appearance of secondary male sex characteristics such as a deepened voice
Infertility – inability to become pregnant
Galactorrahea – breast secretions when not pregnant (this is due to prolactin, which is not actually an androgen)
It is important that when any of these symptoms are present, or these conditions are being considered, that you are under the care of a physician, to receive a proper evaluation and correct treatment if needed. Generally, a gynaecologist is the specialist most helpful for these problems.
Some of the tests that your doctor might order when considering androgen excess search for:
Total and Free testosterone – the hormone that is mainly responsible for male secondary sex characteristics
DHEA-Sulphate – a precursor to testosterone
Prolactin – the hormone that enables the breast to secrete milk
Again, the need for a thorough examination by a professional cannot be over-emphasized for accurate diagnosis.