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Answer: Nearly 30 million women-or one in four-have androgenetic alopecia, the same hereditary hair loss that afflicts men, according to a recent study. For years, female hair loss was rarely discussed (or medically researched) because it was seen as a social stigma, says Amy J. McMichael, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Women can see signs of this condition in their twenties, but they often don't pinpoint what's going on until their forties. Why? "Women lose hair diffusely over the top and crown of the scalp instead of in more obvious bald patches the way men do," explains Dr. McMichael.
It's normal to shed about 100 strands of hair each day. But if you've noticed that your locks get thinner from year to year, you should consult a dermatologist. Two possible treatments: 5 percent minoxidol (over-the-counter Rogaine Extra Strength for Men) and Propecia (an oral medication; it's officially approved only for men, but some doctors also prescribe it for women). Don't take Propecia if you're pregnant.
Originally published in Fitness magazine.