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Living With Hair Loss – by Cate


Living With Hair Loss – A Female Perspective

I’ve been living with hair loss for over 40 years, since I was just 13 years of age and it has caused me much pain and tears over the years. However, now aged 55 I can finally live happily with the condition thanks to finding a skilled and approachable doctor. I’m writing this because there’s no need for women to handle this trouble-some condition on their own anymore. There are skilled and knowledgeable doctors out there to help and a number of medical treatments.

The Past

I can recall the taunts of the girls at high school. I tried to disregard their teasing about my thinning hair. Inside I was hurting like hell. My grandmother washed and dried my hair once when my mother was in hospital. A thick handful of hair came out in the brush. She scolded me about it. So, besides the hair loss and how awful I was feeling, I also had the taunts of the girls at school and my grandmother scolding me to deal with.

I suffered in silence. There was no one to talk to. No adults ever said anything supportive. No doctors ever suggested investigating it. By age 15 I was trying hair-thickening lotions, never letting on how much I was hurting. I was 18 when I first lifted a mirror above my head and saw just how thin my hair was. It was much thinner than I had realised it was. I took to drinking 500 mls of skim milk a day, thinking that increased protein would help. It didn’t. I’ve always hated milk and forcing it down was another trauma! Likewise, I tried various vitamins and supplements to no avail. Going to a hairdresser added to the trauma. Seeing myself close-up in a mirror inevitably had me in tears.

In my early 20s my distress at my appearance was so great that I wished I could end my own life. At age 21 I braved it across Sydney to a far suburb to consult a hair transplant surgeon. He told me to ‘relax and go to parties’. It seemed that there was no help at all.

Over-The-Counter Medication

In 1993 I saw an advertisement in the Yellow Pages (no ready access to the internet then). The advertisement showed ‘before and after’ photos of a man being treated with a hair loss lotion. It was Minoxidil and I was able to obtain it from a nearby pharmacy. I was apprehensive about the cost and skeptical about the effect, but true to the promotion, exactly three months after I started the treatment, my hair had thickened. It was life-changing. I have never cried or felt uncomfortable about it since. The weekend after I realised that the Minoxidil had worked I went out and visited close friends and told them that I had been using Minoxidil and, for the first time, I actually told people close to me how much grief and pain I had suffered for so long. It was my face that was hurting by the end of that weekend-from smiling so much.

From 1994 until 2012, I continued on Minoxidil. My hair was certainly not the thick, lush locks of a movie star or model. It still had thin patches on the top where my scalp showed through. There was always hair in my comb, in the shower drain and on the bathroom floor. While I didn’t like the constant loss of hair, it was better than it had been before. I was grateful for the added hair I had. I confided in supportive hair-dressers who kept it coloured and trimmed and looking ‘as best as it could be’.

The Turning Point

It was early in 2012, that a colleague commented that a hair extension might suit me. It was enough to prompt to use the internet to see what further options there were for hair loss. I don’t know why I hadn’t done this before. There was a world of information and treatments and I decided to investigate a hair transplant. Nervously, I made an appointment and went to Melbourne to consult Dr Rhett Bosnich. He was the first doctor I had ever talked to about my hair and, while I was nervous and embarrassed, he made me feel very much at ease. Dr Bosnich took a detailed history about my health and explained the pros and cons of a hair transplant. He also explained that there were other medications that might assist me and suggested that I take Finasteride for 12 months.

I was dubious about Finasteride working, but, just like with the Mixoxidil, after three months, I noticed a change. I no longer noticed the ‘slightly bald’ patch in the front when I saw my reflection. However, while things had improved, there was still some loss of hair on my pillow and still plenty of hair in my comb and on the bathroom floor. But overall it was much better and I put the idea of surgery out of my mind. I had started saving the $11,000 that surgery would cost me (and later published a book with that money!).

The Present

Twelve months after I commenced Finasteride, Dr Bosnich suggested that we might get a better result by using Dutasteride. And we have, three months after commencing Dutasteride there was again a marked improvement. I’m very grateful. Now, at age 55, I can comb my hair and look in a mirror and honestly feel good about my appearance. I still use Monoxidil lotion each day and take Dutasteride. I feel that Dr Bosnich is very skilled and am confident that while he is monitoring my hair situation (by consultation and photographs when I go to Melbourne) he will alter the current treatment if he feels there are better options. It’s great to have such a supportive and skilled doctor. I know that I’m managing the rest of my life better, due to having the hair loss condition so well managed.

The Future

I suffered for a long time, but no more. I would hate to think there were young girls and other women struggling and suffering like I did. I’m writing this to share part of my story and to let other women know that there is help there for them.

Good luck with it. Love from C.