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'I'm 27 Years Old—And I've Lost Half My Hair'

I have androgenetic alopecia – a term for testosterone-induced hair loss, which is quite common for men, who naturally have more testosterone floating in their body. In women, it's a little less prevalent – affecting about 30 million American women (versus 50 million men), according to the National Institutes of Health – and perhaps even lesser known.

This is because women do not talk about it. We are supposed to have healthy, luscious hair – an evolutionary sign of the ideal potential for making baby, and of course, a societal symbol of feminine beauty. It's embarrassing, shameful even, to admit when we are deceived by something we expect, without pressure – to have

But if this figure of 30 million tells us anything, c & d; Is that hair loss is really normal. women; At some point in their lives, 40 percent of women will see their locks thin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In fact, there are several types of hair loss – postpartum, postmenopausal, androgenetic, to name a few. The latter, which is transmitted by someone in your family, is the worst. Unlike others, it's permanent. It can never be reversed – and takes a serious intervention even attempt to slow down. As I said, it is the one that I – and the hormonal type, thanks to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance resulting in excess testosterone ).

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It took a long time to figure that out. My own thinning started with an area the size of a dime in the middle of my scalp when I was 15 years old. I will never forget when I noticed it. "Hey, you have a bald place," my friend Jared said nonchalantly one day over chicken nuggets at lunch. "Um, hello, that's a part of it?" I retorted, stupefied by his ignorance. But when I ran into the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I saw what he saw. I cried, not because I knew then that the place was going to expand, but because I knew that if a guy had noticed, then it must have been bad .

I immediately begged my mother to take me to a dermatologist. You see, I had always maintained a love-hate relationship with my hair, despising its twilit waves and my hair cells but enjoying its undeniable thickness. It could be crooked, braided, pinned in anything; he could hold a loop or be dried in an elegant style. If I let it dry in the air, it looked like "Carrie Bradshaw-meets- Splash ", according to a random saleswoman at PacSun. I even earned a superlative freshman for Best Hair. (The irony is not lost to me.)

I thought the doctor, and the one after that, would fix everything in no time. But they both said the same thing: stress was the likely culprit. Of course, I had a family drama at home, but enough to cause a legitimate hair loss? It seemed dubious.

Without real answers, I became so obsessed with the size of counting and bagging hair falling in the shower, trying to find new hairstyles to hide the thinness (the headbands were working well), inspecting new areas of my enlarged part – that I fell into an anxious spiral. I went from a pretty safe girl of her to an unconscious wreck, constantly comparing my hair to those around me.

In two years, hair loss and my anxiety have only worsened. When a third doctor I visited told me that he suspected androgenetic alopecia and that he was recommending minoxidil (eg Rogaine, and the only treatment for OTC hair loss) approved by the FDA for women), I told him that he had to be confused. There is no magic blood test that says, "Yo, you have this guy, good luck with that." It's no longer an educated guess based on medical history, lifestyle, a series of blood tests and biopsies things like an autoimmune disorder), and these assumptions can be false. I wanted it to be wrong. At age 17, the idea of ​​applying foam in my head every day for the rest of my life seemed so completely unrealistic and outrageous that I walked out of his office without even thanking you.

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Around this time, the therapist I saw for my "high stress level" mr diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder – which, to this day, I believe was triggered by hair loss. I went on Lexapro in an attempt to finish the cycle. I kept hearing what the first dermatologist had said two years earlier: "The more you worry about your hair, the more hair you lose." Still, hair loss does not occur. is not stopped, nor my new insecurity. I finally got out of the meds and I tried to accept that it was my destiny.

I was able to keep my problem secret for a while. In college, I had figured out how to dry my hair with two types of volumizers to inflate my wicks and push my part further and further to the side to cover my crown that was thinning. I avoided swimming at all costs (hard to do as a student at the University of Florida), and when I started going out with my boyfriend I did not go swimming at all costs (hard to do as a student at the University of Florida), and when I started going out with my boyfriend. so, I never let him see me with wet hair. Wet hair sticks to your scalp and shows sparse areas. I thought it was the hottest thing in the world; I did not want him to see me like that – to see me ugly.

My hair loss has changed. I said no – and I still do it – at many weekends with friends for fear of not having access to a bathroom where I can wash, dry and hide my fine stains (with fibers keratinic strands that I have) in private. I sometimes stay in rainy or wet nights, when my hair frizz like crazy, because I do not want to let it look thin and bad. I avoid boats and convertibles because the wind bothers me the hair, which must fall and stay in an intentional place. I am constantly wondering if I will be comfortable enough to jump into a pool or take a shower with a future boyfriend. It took me four years to do it with my ex. Of all the thoughts that cross my head every day, about 70% of them concern my hair.

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That's why I feel particularly frightened but empowered to put all this there, to relieve myself of being not only another victim of this unjust stigma, but also a perpetuating one.

That's also why I I'm finally taking steps to save the hair that I have left, I've just started working with several leading dermatologists, Neil Sadick, MD, and Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, to explore long-term options that could help , like plasma injections (called PRP) and anti-androgens (especially spironolactone).

I hope that in six months, when my 28th birthday has passed, there will be new growth that will germinate on my head (it usually takes a long time to notice changes But even if there is none, I will wish something completely different when I blow these candles: the courage not to let something so superficial rule my life. And for the other 30 million women there, do not let him ruin theirs either.

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