Before Women’s History Month comes to a close, I wanted to touch on a subject that hits really close to home, both professionally and personally; the gender inequalities in healthcare and how these have impacted the treatment of hair loss in women. As a primary care physician for thirty years, I saw firsthand how these inequalities impacted my patients, especially as women are more likely to forego healthcare services due to cost while at the same time often having to pay higher insurance premiums.
When we discuss gender inequalities in healthcare today, the discussion often revolves around access to healthcare, and that is certainly an important part of the discussion. However, one of the biggest issues is that for centuries, medical research was primarily conducted by male doctors and scientists on only male patients. The assumption was made that the results of these studies would be the same for females as males. Unfortunately, this meant that women were not receiving the same level of care, as the medical community did not fully understand what women were experiencing. This too is the history of the treatment of hair loss in women.
For far too long, female hair loss has been an afterthought for most medical practitioners, because its causes were not understood well enough, its impact was not understood well enough, and there were not great treatment options available. Female hair loss can be very complex to diagnose, as there are many potential causes and often multiple factors aggravating the condition. Due to the types of hair loss that women experience, they tend to respond best to medical treatments that focus on treating the causes and not masking the symptoms. For a long time, the only hair restoration option was a hair transplant, which work well for most men, but women are not always great candidates. The reason we, at Medi Tresse, offer hour-long consultations is because it takes that long to properly evaluate, diagnose, and create a customized treatment plan that addresses the needs of that specific patient. Unfortunately, this understanding of how to properly treat hair loss in women is still relatively new and many medical professionals still do not understand what it takes to properly treat or how difficult the experience can be for women. Hair loss has often been brushed aside as a cosmetic issue, but we at Medi Tresse understand the emotional toll that often comes with experiencing hair loss as a woman.
Thankfully, over the past 15 years we have seen progress as great treatment options have become available and more women are now seeking help. According to the International Society of the Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), in 2005 women made up only 28% of the patients seeking non-surgical treatments, but in 2019 that increased to 40%. As one of the leading medical professionals in our industry, we understand that it is our responsibility to help normalize women’s hair loss through education and creating a caring and supportive community for women. We still have a ways to go, and we hope to see even more progress over the next 15 years.
Posted by Dr. Mary Wendel