Women (and men) are full of secrets, especially when it comes to their looks. We wear padded bras, spanx, we dye our hair and apply fake nails...a myriad of things, really. And there are a billion reasons for it. The only one that really matters, to me, is "does it make you happy?" If there is something you don't like, and you can change it safely, then go for it! Over the last few years, one of the things that has really bugged me is my hair...so I sought to change it. On the recommendation of my doctor, I turned to Rogaine. This is a recount of my personal experience with the product over the last four years.
This post is going to deal with subjects such as body image, childbirth, and cancer. Reader discretion is advised.
To start this story, we have to start with a wee bit of backstory:
Five years ago, I gave birth to a delightfully wild little girl. Because of unlucky hips and giant noggins, I had a scheduled c-section that was to include a tubal ligation (no more babies!) I was nearly 30 years old, and two kids was exactly the right amount...I didn't want any surprises later on in life. During previous ultrasounds, a small cyst had been discovered...but we all assumed it was a Corpus Luteum cyst. The ever-growing
parasitefetus soon obscured it and it was forgotten. During my surgery it was rediscovered and removed. Tl;dr it wasn't what we thought it was. (if you like medical oddities, I will gladly share this part with you elsewhere!) It turned out to be ovarian cancer, and six weeks after the birth of my child, I had a complete and total hysterectomy. Good times, ya'll. Thankfully, the sort of cancer I had was caught ridiculously early, and it was not prone to spreading. I was lucky. But being 30 and having no ovaries presents a host of troubles that I could not deal with on my own. I was placed on a hormone therapy regimen to replace all my missing testosterone and estrogen. Shortly there-after my hair started to fall out. I was pretty upset, and turned to what appeared to be my only hope: Rogaine.
I'm not going to talk about how Rogaine or Minoxidil works. Feel free to read the wikipedia article though. I'll wait right here.
So I applied it. It made my hair greasy and my scalp itchy. But I used it. And after a few months, I noticed my hair loss had slowed. (It was about this time that I started going for wild colors...because really, if I'm going bald, at least let me enjoy the ride.) But it was really hard on my skin. Some people do react to minoxidil that way, and I figured that was my lot in life. I soldiered on.
One month turned to three, and then six, and then a few years went by...and I was still seeing more scalp up top. Then the Rogaine foam came out for ladies, and I switched to that. If anything, I liked it less. It was harder to get it on my scalp than the liquid, and it left my hair looking like I borrowed a sea-hag's wig. Fuckyeah, just what I always wanted! If you have thin hair anyway, something that causes your hair to clump together limply is exactly the opposite of what you are looking for in a hair product...FYI.
I started to notice things about hair in different parts of my body...things that were new and terrifying. I'm half Portuguese, so I was fully prepared to be waxing my mustache one day...that was no biggie. And my arms and legs have always been hairy, so that was also no surprise. But about a year in I noticed that the hair in my sideburn area was getting darker and thicker...uh-oh. I was able to ignore it for a while, but then a depilatory started to become a requirement. I also noticed the hair on the tops of my thighs, which was always fine and pale, start to become darker and more obnoxious. I blamed my HRT for a long time, but eventually I began to blame the Rogaine. It does say that it might increase the thickness of hair in other places due to accidental transference and/or absorption through the scalp. Ugh. Shaving, waxing, and burning...oh my.
I also noticed other things...things that bothered me more. My skin, which is...temperamental at best, started to really have an attitude. Especially in the last eight months or so. Products that previously worked well suddenly worked like feeding paperclips to worms. (that means not good) I noticed more lines on my face, a dullness in areas that had previously been problem free, random acne in odd neighborhoods...and an overall just blah look to my skin. I was recently reading a bunch of forum posts from women who have used minoxidil and Rogaine, and they started to complain of the same things! I had always attributed any skin irritation to my cigarette habit, but I've been quit a year now and I expected a modicum of improvement...instead its gotten worse. I don't expect to look like I'm 25, but I don't expect to be doing all of the aging all at once either.
And thus, after nearly five years of continuous use, I have decided to quit. If my hair goes...fuck it, I'll shave my head. I can be punk and PTA...right? My skin cannot handle the abuse, and if I have to choose between an itchy, thinning scalp with a hairy face or a less hairy face and no hair but happy scalp...well, yeah. For me, the choice is plain. I just hope I haven't permanently done any damage. In the last year I have made some changes to improve my health, and I continue to strive to make the best choices...but carbs, man. Fucking carbs.
If you are considering minoxidil, there are some things I think you should know
- This product will only work while you are using it. If you stop, you will lose any benefits you may have gained.
- It might not work for you. Depending on the reasons behind your hair loss or the type you have, this might not make a damned lick of difference for you.
- There is a slight chance that you may experience adverse reactions, similar to what I have observed. I am not a scientist (for realsies), but from what anecdotal evidence I've seen, it does happen.
- This stuff is expensive. The regular liquid minoxidil is about $18 for a three-month supply. The name brand Rogaine is $18 for one month. I have used both the store brand and name and haven't noticed a lick of difference. As yet, there is no generic for the foam.
- This stuff isn't designed for your brows, lashes, etc
- Hair loss can often be indicative of an underlying medical condition. DO NOT SELF MEDICATE. Talk to a professional.
- It takes time to work. You may not see any regrowth for six months, if you see any at all (I never did). And you may not even see a slow-down in hair loss for three. This is not a quick-fix.
So this was kind-of the hardest post to write, but I feel like it was important. People are really flippant on the internet to suggest products without really knowing what the possible outcomes can be and it really worries me to see healthy people gamble so recklessly. Your health is precious and you should treat it as such.
tl;dr I'm planning on being the most bad-ass bald bitch in the history or histories.