Female pattern baldness (or female pattern alopecia), although not as common as its male counterpart, is obviously of greater cosmetic and aesthetic concern. It is a source of great emotional distress since women place great stock in a full head of hair. When it does occur, it usually causes a gradual loss of hair from the crown of the scalp, causing a broadened midline parting. It may also recede from the forehead, resulting in the classic 'widow's peak'. Complete baldness in women is a rare occurrence.
Most instances of baldness in females are diagnosed as the result of a deficiency in endocrine hormones. This is why women may find a gradual or dramatic thinning of hair at or after the onset of menopause. Genetic predisposition (androgenetic alopecia) is the cause of almost 90% of female baldness. The use of oral contraceptives is also a known cause for it since birth control pills manipulate a woman's hormonal balance.
Other reasons are the natural aging process, the use of unsuitable hair products, drastic hair styling habits, and grossly improper nutrition. Certain skin disorders like alopecia areata can also cause hair loss in females, which usually occurs in small patches rather than progressively expanding areas.
In quite rare instances, trichotillomania is a factor – this is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that causes the willful arousing of hair and is usually noted in pre-teenaged or teened females. Stress – the bane of modern civilization and often thought to be responsible for hair loss in both males and females – is definitely not a causative factor.
Almost 20% of all women suffer from pattern baldness to some degree or another. The good news is that dormant, non-productive hair follicles can be rejuvenated medically. In certain cases, the metabolism itself sends the necessary signals and hair growth may resume automatically.