Reproductive hormone changes can also play a part, and dermatologists believe the same factors that cause hair loss from the scalp, a common problem for women as they age, may contribute to thinning brows. Nanette Santoro, M.D., ob/gyn and professor of reproductive endocrinology at the University of Colorado at Denver, says, “Abrupt hormone changes can cause sudden hair loss (telogen effluvium) that recovers over about six months' time. It happens postpartum to many women and can happen at menopause.”
Around 30 million U.S. women will experience hereditary hair loss, or female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), while others will struggle with situational hair loss, brought on by medical conditions, medications, poor health and nutrition, environmental factors such as smoking and sun damage, or even from adverse reactions to hair care products or treatments.
If, however, you aren’t so sure that any of the causes listed above are a problem for you, then a good place to start may be to talk with your healthcare provider about testing. It is important to learn the root cause – especially if dealing with infertility – because that which is causing hair thinning and shedding may also be contributing to your inability to conceive.
Dozens of other causes of eyebrow loss are also possible including a variety of infectious, autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Consultation with a dermatologist or hair transplant surgeon is recommended. I strongly advise consulting a dermatologist before proceeding to hair transplantation for women over 40 with new onset eyebrow hair loss after age 40.
While these factors contribute to hair loss for any woman, it’s particularly dicey for those of us with PCOS because when the follicle is exposed to our elevated androgens such as DHT (di-hydro testosterone, an active metabolite of testosterone) it gets damaged. Whenever a cell is damaged it generates oxidative stress which further alters the androgen receptor in the follicle perpetuating the issue.
Madarosis is a terminology that refers to loss of eyebrows or eyelashes. This clinical sign occurs in various diseases ranging from local dermatological disorders to complex systemic diseases. Madarosis can be scarring or non-scarring depending upon the etiology. Appropriate diagnosis is essential for management. Follicular unit transplantation has been found to be a useful method of treating scarring madarosis and the procedure relevant to eyebrow and eyelash reconstruction has been discussed. A useful clinical approach to madarosis has also been included for bedside diagnosis. The literature search was conducted with Pubmed, Medline, and Google scholar using the keywords madarosis, eyebrow loss, and eyelash loss for articles from 1960 to September 2011. Relevant material was also searched in textbooks and used wherever appropriate.