ATLANTA - We tend to think of hair loss as a man's problem.
But many women suffer from it, too.
Women typically begin to notice thinning in their fifties and sixties.
Yet, CentreSpring MD founder Dr. Taz Bhatia says it can happen at any age, and it's more common than you would think.
"Hair loss is becoming more and more the modern woman's epidemic," Dr. Bhatia says. "I just meet more and more women every day who are struggling with hair loss."
It's a problem that hits home with Bhatia, because she went through it as a young physician.
"I was battling severe stress at the time, and altered eating schedule, and altered sleep schedule," Bhatia remembers. "I didn't understand my nutritional needs."
Bhatia says her hair loss was a wake-up call that led her to rethink her medical career and decide to specialize in integrative medicine.
"Once you lose your hair, it's a fight to bring it back," Bhatia says. "I feel fortunate in that I learned so much and I was able to take care of myself. But it is hard for women and it affects their self- esteem, and I know what that is like."
Dr. Taz says there are typically 4 reasons you might be losing your hair.
This first trigger is nutritional.
"That's hair that breaks or splits in your hands," Bhatia says. "Like, you can literally rip it apart."
Hormonal imbalances are another common cause of hair loss.
"Hair loss at the crown is usually thyroid," Dr. Bhatia says. "Hair loss at the temples is often an estrogen/progesterone issue.
Some women have an imbalance in androgen, a male hormone.
"You might have had a really nice thick strand of hair, but it become crinkly and like paper over time," Dr. Bhatia says of androgen-based hair loss. "It eventually miniaturizes and falls out, and you're dealing with, like, paper hair is what I call it.
The final, perhaps the most common trigger of temporary hair loss is stress.
"I think women are more stressed today than at any other time before," Bhatia says.
The first step is identifying what's making your hair fall out.
"Get a workup," Bhatia says. "Look at the nutrients, look at the hormones, look at the androgen."
It's important to know what's triggering hair loss before you try topical hair solutions.
Bhatia says they will not work unless you have the correct hormonal chemistry.
"The other thing I would tell women is don't ignore it," she says. " I ignored it, too, until it became a massive issue. I think if you're starting to see a change that is significant, you need to talk to your doctor about it."