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Ever heard the idea that if baldness runs in the men on your mothers’ side, a male spawn is likely to go bald too? Here’s a surprising update on that old wives’ tale: Dr. Bernstein asserts that baldness on either side of family can be indicative for genetic hair loss whether you’re a male or a female.

This hormonal connection is also one way that thinning hair can be more complicated to diagnose in women. Pregnancy, ovarian cysts, medications, emotional or physical shock, and birth control pills can affect hormone levels. “With women, there can be underlying causes,” says Bernstein. “You have to check for medical problems. For example, polycystic ovarian disease can exacerbate androgens and manifest as thinning, in which case you could treat the condition with an androgen blocker like spironolactone.”

Heredity also plays a role in hair thinning and loss for both sexes. Ever heard the idea that if baldness runs in the men on your mothers’ side, a male spawn is likely to go bald too? Here’s a surprising update on that old wives’ tale: Dr. Bernstein asserts that baldness on either side of family can be indicative for genetic hair loss whether you’re a male or a female.

Video: Understanding Hair Loss

If you’ve ever noticed an alarming amount of hair — we’re talking about clumps — in your drain or on a hairbrush, think back a few months. That’s because this type of loss, called telogen effluvium, is caused when a trauma triggers the hair in growing phase to shift to shedding phase, usually about six weeks to three months after the event. A “trauma” can be defined as a major surgery, childbirth, or yes, a total stress freakout. While there are cases of this being a chronic disorder, luckily, the shedding phase is usually reversible.

There are many other, less common types of hair loss that can be diagnosed by a doc who can administer a “pull test” in order to examine factors such as the diameter of the follicle and what growth stage individual strands are in.

What Helps & What Doesn’t

Lately, it seems a few members of the beauty industry have woken up and decided to start marketing anti-hair loss and anti-thinning products to women. But buyer beware: According to Dr. Bernstein, there’s simply no scientific evidence that any of these trendy new ingredients and herbal concoctions work. And prescription Propecia, also known as finasteride, which helps to lower DHT levels in men, “is not FDA-approved for women,” he says. “Some doctors use it, but there’s some indication that it points to breast problems, so I don’t recommend it.” A two percent minoxidil product, known over-the-counter as Rogaine, can help, but consistency is key: “It has to be used regularly; at least once a day, if not twice.”

In more extreme cases, some women are candidates for Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Hair Transplants, a procedure by which hair is removed directly from the donor region of the scalp and grafted on to thin or bald spots. The latest technology? Because the implant process is so precise, a new device utilizes an image-guided robotic arm to get the job done.

Read More: Healthy Hair Diet for Hair Growth

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