Secret shame of the peri-menopausal woman

Saffy. Licensed by CC by 2.0

I promised to be honest in this blog and yet… is this a post too far? Will I regret it? Will I be greeted by jeers and titters on the Tube tomorrow morning?

Okay, probably not.

But I’m about to write on a subject that few women like discussing and most keep to themselves – hair.

“What?” I hear you exclaim. “Women love talking about their hair.”

And that’s so true. Or it used to be, for me.

My hair has always been something I’ve been proud of – Rose West perm excluded. No matter what I’ve done to it, my tresses have served me well. They’ve been pink, blonde, dark, red, orange with little purple stripes (that one didn’t go so well. Turns out I wasn’t so adventurous the day before we left for our honeymoon as I thought and promptly burst into tears when I saw my close-cropped locks. What with my hamster cheeks, I have never resembled the eight ball in snooker so much. An eight-ball with bright red eyes from bawling, that is. I had a purple dress for our first night out, too. Remember how bad Cheryl Cole-Tweedy-Whatever looked at X Factor USA? She was stylish compared to that.)

I’m still happy with the hair itself. It’s thick and there are only a few strands of grey appearing. But about 18 months ago, I noticed my forehead seemed to be growing.

Even my hairdresser commented on it, accusing me of too many Croydon facelifts, which sent me straight to the doctor, who told me I had androgenetic alopecia.

That’s female (or male) pattern baldness, to you and I.


It turns out my hairline is receding faster than a politician’s election promises.

Tests ruled out anything wrong – low iron levels or thyroid, for example – it is purely and simply down to age and the hormone changes that come with the peri-menopause.

Now this isn’t rare. Apparently, around two-thirds of post-menopausal women will suffer from some form of hair thinning or bald spots. Yet while Larry David can rejoice in his baldness,  you don’t see many women joining in. When was the last time you saw “Beautiful and bald” on the front page of Cosmo?

I have to admit, I didn’t take it very well. I divulged my secret in a whisper over email to one of the lifestyle journalists at Hello! – honest, I wrote it in a small font so no one would see – who suggested using Nioxin. I followed the instructions religiously but while my hair looked lovely, my crowning glory more closely resembled Elizabeth I than Kate Middleton.

Those who I have confided in say they can’t notice anything, but when I look in the mirror or have a photo taken, my missing hair is all I can see. Or can’t see, to be more precise. Mornings are spent trying to get the least-worse parting to hide the damage

A change in hair style seemed the obvious solution but will a fringe have me looking like

Avro – Beeld en geluid wiki – Gallerie: Toppop 1974, CC by 3.0 (cropped from original)

or what if I were to embrace the combover?

Gage Skidmore. Licensed by CC by 2.0

Although neither of these would solve the problem of my hair receding.

Of course, being a modern woman, I shouldn’t care. This is part of growing old, like elasticated waistbands and cravings for Werther’s Originals and storing hankies up sleeves. I am a woman. I have hormones and now they’re changing. Deal with it.

Aye, right. I love my hair and I’m not ashamed to say I want to keep it. All of it.

So after a little googling, I’m now using a Minoxidil treatment – Boots’s own, in case you’re interested, and no, I’m not getting paid for mentioning or using it. I’m one month down into the three months’ treatment regime and have taken photos so I can compare before and after.

I wish I could say I can see a difference already, but I can’t. I’m also having to put coconut oil on my hairline at night as it’s aggravating a dry scalp condition I have right at the front. I’ll keep you updated as to any results.

If not, anyone know any good wigmakers?


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