dr medical Konstanze Lange is a specialist in surgery at the Klinikum Rechts der Isar in Munich and a consultant for women going through the menopause. One of her main topics is the treatment of hair loss in menopause. In our interview, she explains what affected women can do - and why nobody has to "go through it".
Wildschoen: Mrs. Dr. Lange, you are a surgeon - a time-consuming and demanding job. How is it that you have also specialized in counseling women going through the menopause?
dr Lange: Because the demand is huge and the supply is manageable. After all, the topic of "menopause" affects every woman who reaches the appropriate age, and the suffering is often great. I speak from experience: A few years ago I had quite pronounced side effects - one of them was almost total hair loss. However, I got the problem under control very well and now I would like to pass on my experiences. The result of my personal and medical experience is a comprehensive approach that aims to solve the problems at the root and show that there are effective strategies against hair loss during menopause.
"A lot of people are told that you just have to 'through there'."
Does hair loss affect all women during menopause?
Two out of three women experience more or less severe symptoms during menopause, every second suffers from hair loss. So we're talking about several million women in Germany alone. Unfortunately, menopause is still neglected in conventional medicine. It is at best a marginal topic during studies, and even for gynecologists it is not mandatory to be specifically trained in the counseling and treatment of menopausal symptoms. Many women experience frustration that their gynecologist does not provide them with lasting help. Many are told that you have to “get through it”. Depression is often diagnosed when there is great suffering, rather than tackling the issue at its root. The specialized menopause counseling fills this counseling gap. Women don't have to "go through it" because there are suitable therapeutic approaches. A pioneer is the gynecologist and best-selling author Sheila de Liz, with whom I have the privilege of working on this topic. The great public interest in Sheila's books and lectures - also in society and politics - raises the hope that the topic will receive more attention in the future.
"I advise all women who are affected by hair loss during menopause not to lose heart."
What actually causes hair loss during menopause?
Hair loss can of course have many causes, but in women of this age it is mainly caused by hormonal changes that occur during this phase of life. When the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone in sufficient amounts, it can trigger an imbalance of hormones in the body, which in turn can lead to hair loss. I advise all women who are affected by hair loss during menopause not to lose heart. There are effective ways to treat, or at least mitigate, the problem. A targeted initial consultation to determine the exact cause of hair loss is the first step in treatment. From there, various measures can be agreed. One component could be hormone replacement therapy with bioidentical hormones, in which we try to bring the imbalance described back into balance.
Hormone therapies don't exactly have the best reputation. Why do you still advise it?
The bad reputation of hormone therapy for menopausal women is due in large part to a single 2002 study that found some harmful effects. However, only synthetic hormones were used in this study and a significantly older group was observed. In modern hormone therapy, however, we rely on nature-identical hormones that are absolutely identical to those in the female body. Since then, many studies have proven that these bioidentical hormones, when used correctly, help the body to restore hormonal balance and are also proven to be a benefit for the rest of life. I have had very good experiences with this in my professional practice, and I can only advise every woman affected to find out more about this topic. The bad reputation of hormone therapy is unjustified today.
"Even today brushing is still an integral part of my daily routine"
What options do the affected women have beyond hormone therapy?
Even if it sounds banal: For me, brushing is one of the key success factors. So that readers outside of southern Germany also feel addressed: It's about brushing the hair, more precisely: the scalp. The scalp is lined with countless vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles where hair grows. The extensive "massage" of the scalp with a brush with natural bristles stimulates the blood circulation and thus the supply, which leads to hair growth. At the same time, the pores of the scalp are mechanically freed from impurities that can disrupt hair growth. Personally, I have found this to be one of the most effective ways to combat menopausal hair loss. Even today brushing is still an integral part of my daily routine.
So when it comes to hair loss, what matters is the scalp, not the care of the hair itself?
Of course! You can only influence the hair structure and strength with your diet. Even if every doctor gives you this advice and you may not be able to hear it anymore: A balanced and varied diet is important for a healthy body. And the formation of a healthy hair structure is a bodily function that works best when the entire system is well supplied - to put it somewhat technically. If the diet is right and the scalp is well supplied with blood, the health of the upper layers of the skin is also important: women going through the menopause often suffer from dry skin - this is also a side effect of the hormonal change. This can also make hair loss worse. It is therefore important not to use hair care products that additionally dry out the scalp. I therefore recommend mild shampoos. If necessary, moisturizing or slightly moisturizing products can also support skin health.
"Once women understand the connection between scalp health and hair growth, they are ready to change their habits."
Many women have stuck to their hair care routines for years – sometimes for decades. The advice to switch is certainly not always welcome.
There is actually a topic in almost every consultation. Of course, one has gotten used to the practical everyday helpers, which not least help to disguise the inevitable signs of aging. For example, many women who are going through menopause help their hair color with chemical hair coloring. Again, however, there are natural alternatives that can achieve beautiful results. Synthetic ingredients in many hair care products also make the hair soft and combable so quickly, without much effort. You have to be able to part with it first – not that easy! As soon as women have understood the connection between scalp health and hair growth, they are usually willing to change their habits and use hair care products that are a little less convenient - for example mild natural products. The skin usually gets used to the new care within a few days or weeks.
Can you help all women with your approach?
My impression is that all women can be helped through menopause with good advice. Does that mean that nothing changes for women? Of course not! The menopause is a completely natural process that heralds a whole new phase of life - with its own challenges, but also very beautiful, strong sides. In the consultation, I can help to get the challenges under control, including those related to hair loss. That's a very nice feeling.
Miss Dr. Lange Thank you very much for the interview !