Why Can High DHT Cause Female Hair Loss (& What Can You Do to Treat It)?


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If a breezy day has you feeling nervous, we get ya. Even a slight wind can ruffle carefully manipulated strands that cover thinning.

Hair loss can be tough to deal with. If you’re experiencing thinning, you may have gone through a Google spiral of treatments to try, leading you to wonder, Are DHT blockers safe for females? 

In this article, we’ll cover the different medications that decrease DHT, like finasteride and spironolactone, along with side effects and other treatments to consider.

What Causes High DHT in Females?

First, let’s get into what DHT is. You’ve probably seen it mentioned when browsing hair loss treatments. But what is DHT and what exactly does it do?

DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is a hormone, and it plays a significant role in the sexual development of people assigned male at birth (AMAB). DHT is known as an androgen, a hormone that stimulates the development of male characteristics. Females also have DHT, but typically much smaller amounts.

Hormonal imbalances can create high DHT, as seen in women who may have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can be tough to diagnose, but it can be quite common, affecting 5 to 15 percent of reproductive-aged females worldwide.

High DHT occurs when the ovaries create excess androgens. This includes testosterone, which then leads to increased DHT levels. Some are more sensitive to DHT than others, so how it affects you can really vary.

This leads us to the symptoms you may experience if you have high DHT.

What Are the Symptoms of High DHT in Females?

Like most things, too much of anything is no good. Women with too much DHT can face a number of issues, including irregular periods, excessive facial hair (hirsutism) and acne.

Research shows that polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrinological abnormality associated with female pattern hair loss (FPHL). Hyperandrogenism is a feature between both female pattern hair loss and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Male pattern hair loss is thought to be induced by an increased conversion of testosterone to DHT by the enzyme 5α-reductase. In some women with FPHL, there’s evidence of altered metabolism of androgens, but excessive androgen production isn’t present in all cases.

Increased DHT activity at your hair follicles is one of the causes of hair loss, alongside other factors like genetics. Some people are more sensitive to DHT than others.

And for those lucky people (sigh), high levels of DHT can shrink hair follicles and shorten the hair growth cycle. Over time, these smaller follicles produce thinner vellus hairs, creating hair thinning or loss.

Unlike men, women typically won’t go entirely bald, but they may see a wider part or a Christmas tree pattern of hair loss (wider at the front of the part line while remaining narrow near the back of the scalp).

(RelatedHow To Stop Hair Loss For Women)

What Are DHT Blockers?

Now that you know DHT can wreak havoc on your hairline, you’re probably ready to fight DHT. This isn’t a bar fight, though — knuckles will do you no good.

Luckily, some medications and treatments can block DHT and help improve female hair loss.


Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one DHT blocker for treating pattern hair loss, an oral medication called finasteride (commonly sold under the brand name Propecia).

This medication works by inhibiting 5 alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT within the body. While finasteride doesn’t lead to a 100 percent reduction in DHT, it slows down hair loss considerably.

However, finasteride is currently an FDA-approved medication for pattern hair loss in men, not women. Currently, there aren’t any DHT blockers for women with FDA approval. Most research on finasteride has focused on its benefits as a medication for male pattern baldness, not as a hair loss treatment option for women.

Finasteride is a teratogenic (previously category X) medicine; it might cause abnormalities in a male fetus if a woman is pregnant. Likewise, lactating patients are also recommended not to use this medication.

For these reasons, finasteride is only used off-label for hair loss, typically in postmenopausal women.

DHT-Blocking Shampoos and Supplements 

You may have seen “DHT-blocking” on the label of a shampoo bottle or hair-loss supplement. But there’s limited research suggesting that these types of shampoos or supplements may actually reduce DHT.

Ingredients like saw palmetto have risen in popularity in haircare products (becoming almost as popular as biotin) due to their purported antiandrogenic properties and hair regrowth benefits.

In five clinical trials and two cohort studies, patients with androgenetic alopecia (AGA) and telogen effluvium showed considerable improvements with the use of topical and oral supplements containing between 100 and 320 milligrams of saw palmetto. About 60 percent reported improvement in overall hair quality, and roughly 83 percent saw increased hair density.

Saw palmetto was well tolerated and not associated with serious adverse risks in alopecia patients, making this a potential treatment to try.

Do DHT Blockers for Women Work?

Considerable research supports the efficacy of topical DHT blockers in treating women with hormonal hair loss. By inhibiting the 5a-reductase enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, these treatments lead to decreased levels of DHT in certain parts of the body.

Translation: DHT blockers could potentially help treat hair loss in women. Let’s take a look at the research.


A small 2013 study published in the International Journal of Trichology found that oral finasteride produced improvements in hair density among postmenopausal women affected by pattern hair loss.

We should note that participants were given a 5-milligram dose versus the FDA’s approved 1-milligram dosage. Still, when women’s hair loss is caused by DHT, finasteride appears to be effective at either slowing it down or reversing it.

Topical finasteride has also been shown to increase hair count. While this form is generally well-tolerated, there have been limited studies looking at its effects on women. 

In a placebo-controlled trial, 52 patients were given a 0.005% finasteride solution twice daily for 16 months. Those who took finasteride had substantially less hair shedding after six months and continued to improve throughout the duration of the study. 

A combination of topical finasteride and minoxidil in this hair growth spray might be a good bet for postmenopausal women experiencing hormonal hair loss.

(Related: Finasteride for Women: Can Women Use Finasteride For Hair Loss?)

DHT Blocker Side Effects on Females

In the studies mentioned, no serious side effects were noted by patients. Minimal side effects may include headache, depression, nausea or hot flashes.

Another possible concern when using finasteride treatment is a slight rise in estrogen levels. For this reason, the treatment isn’t advisable in females with a family or personal history of breast cancer.

Other Hair Loss Treatments for Women

Finasteride isn’t your only choice when it comes to treating hair loss in women. Other treatment options include minoxidil, spironolactone, reducing DHT and healthy lifestyle changes.


Commonly sold under the brand name Rogaine®, minoxidil is a topical or oral medication that helps stimulate hair growth. Though the science isn’t exactly clear on how it works, it’s thought to encourage your hairs to enter into the anagen phase (aka growth stage) of the hair growth cycle. 

There are a few varieties of Hers minoxidil you can try:

  • Minoxidil drops. This is a 2% strength formulation with an easy-to-use dropper. 

  • Minoxidil foam. The 5% foam version of minoxidil can be easily worked through hair. 

  • Oral minoxidil. This once-daily pill is a nice option for those who may not have had much success with topical minoxidil.


Spironolactone is a once-daily pill that helps target hormones (like testosterone) that cause excess hair shedding. Androgen binding leads to hair loss, and spironolactone helps inhibit this process. This makes it a potentially effective treatment for female pattern hair loss, especially for those with signs of hyperandrogenism.

Reduce DHT With a Healthy Lifestyle

While there isn’t definitive research, a healthier lifestyle is generally a good idea for better health and (hopefully) healthy hair growth. You probably already know what this entails, even if you’re not living it yet on the day-to-day.

One cross-sectional study on males with AGA reported that those with a higher BMI (body mass index) had more severe hair loss. While a similar study hasn’t been done on women, we’re betting a strength training sesh or pilates class isn’t a bad idea.

And if you’re a fan of cigarettes, you should know that smoking has been linked to accelerated hair loss in the form of androgenetic alopecia.

The Bottom Line on DHT Blockers for Women

There are many ways to come up with a game plan to attack a receding hairline and get thicker hair.

But due to the potential side effects of DHT blockers in women, it’s crucial you talk with a healthcare provider first. They’ll be able to give you the best medical advice if you’re considering this type of medication to prevent hair loss or promote hair growth.

Here’s what you need to remember: 

  • DHT blockers like finasteride haven’t been approved by the FDA as treatments for hair loss in women. However, topical finasteride can be used off-label to treat hair loss in women who’ve already been through menopause.

  • Before menopause, medications like spironolactone — which work by limiting all androgens, not just DHT — can also help treat female pattern hair loss.

  • If you’re nervous about taking an oral medication, you might consider the topical route for thinning hair. Hers offers both topical minoxidil and topical finasteride to help you find the right hair loss treatment. You’ve got options, baby.

This article originally appeared on Forhers.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Discover the Most Popular Hairstyles the Decade You Were Born

Discover the Most Popular Hairstyles the Decade You Were Born

There are so many things that define each decade, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. But none of the things we’ve looked back on were quite as polarizing as the hairstyles. From piled-high funky styles to buzzed dos, here are the most popular hairstyles from the decade you were born, spanning from the 40s to the 2000s. 

Wikipedia / Mediafeed

Inspired by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood women at the time, the victory roll hairstyle featured tight curls pinned toward the face to frame it. Victory rolls were customizable, so you could opt for a single roll or different symmetrical or asymmetrical versions of dual rolls. 

Other popular hairstyles of the decade for women included tight curls, waves, and the pageboy. Women were also big on hair accessories, particularly the snood, which was essentially a crocheted bag used to cradle the hair and keep it in place. Both men and women sported the infamous pompadour during the ’40s. Men were also partial to quiffed hair or short curls and were also prone to just slicking their hair back.

Wikipedia / U.S. Army – Yank, the Army Weekly

Everyone knows the beehive hairstyle, whether you associate it with the ’50s or Amy Winehouse. All you had to do to be cool in the 1950s was pile your hair on top of your head in a conical shape to resemble a beehive. Lots of hairspray was needed for this one.

If your hair wasn’t long enough for the beehive, you might have sported other bouffant hairstyles, a poodle cut, an Italian cut, victory rolls, or even a pixie cut. Men were still into the slicked-back look along with side parts, the pompadour, or — if they were influenced by Elvis later in the decade — a Rockabilly do.

Wikipedia / Warner Bros.

Bouffant (derived from the French verb “bouffer,” which means to puff or fluff up) hair became popular during the 1950s, but dominated in the 1960s thanks to the iconic Jackie Kennedy sporting the style. The puffy, rounded hairdo was especially popular among housewives during the ’60s. 

Women also gravitated toward shorter hairstyles (influenced by Twiggy), including pixie cuts and flipped bobs and, for long hair, bangs. Men styled their hair with everything from the bowl cut and the ducktail cut to shag cuts and styles copying The Beatles.

Public Domain / Wikipedia

During the 1970s, the afro became a symbol of cultural and political expression, particularly within the African American community. The style pushed back against Eurocentric beauty standards and celebrated natural Black hair. Influenced by icons like Angela Davis and the Jackson 5, the afro surged in popularity, crossing racial and cultural boundaries to become a mainstream fashion statement. Its voluminous shape was achieved through techniques like picking, and its prominence spread among both men and women.

Separately, and inspired predominantly by Farrah Fawcett, long, feathered hair was also sought after during the ’70s. 

Wikipedia / GeorgeLouis at English Wikipedia

Whether it was crimped, curled, teased, spiked into a giant mohawk, or cut into a towering flattop, the most iconic ’80s dos could all be tied to one main group: big hair. During this decade, freedom of expression was fully embraced and displayed through hair. Styles like Jheri curls were popular thanks to Michael Jackson, and Billy Ray Cyrus spearheaded the popularity of the business in the front, party in the back mullet. The ’80s were eclectic times that reeked of Aqua Net and perms. 

Wikipedia / Allan Light

You didn’t even need to be a fan or viewer of “Friends” to ask your hairdresser to give you “The Rachel” in the ’90s. Everyone knew exactly which version of Jennifer Anniston’s hair you wanted. Layered, framed around the face, and shoulder-length was the style that ruled the decade. Chunky highlights, side bangs, and hair flipped out at the bottom were also wildly popular during the decade. And who could forget chopsticks carefully stuck into buns? All the rage. 

If you were a cool dude during the ’90s, you might have had frosted tips, spiky hair, or cornrows.


All you needed was a few bobby pins and some hairspray to make a pulled-back pouf happen, and every girl in the 2000s was on board. High ponytails and pigtails, choppy layers, and money-piece braids were a go-to as well. 

Skater boy hair/emo boy haircuts that swooped halfway across a guy’s face were also iconic during the 2000s. Who else remembers watching guys shake their heads in slow motion to get the hair out of their eyes like they were playing a role in the “Baywatch” intro? We shudder at the memory. On the opposite end of the spectrum, buzz cuts were prominent, along with faux hawks. 



Featured Image Credit: seb_ra/istockphoto.