DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I went to my doctor for hair loss. The doctor said I had a thyroid problem and gave me a prescription for methimazole. The hair thinning continued, and I read that this medicine can cause hair loss. I have stopped taking it. What can I do? I am 50 and a woman. – G.J.

ANSWER: On average, people lose 100 hairs a day, and 200 on shampoo days. To be certain you are exceeding those numbers, collect the hair from your comb and brush every day and do so for two weeks to see what your count is. That will tell you if you truly have a problem.

Thyroid illnesses can cause hair loss. Your medicine was for an overactive thyroid gland. If there is solid laboratory evidence that your gland is putting out too much thyroid hormone, you had better go back on the medicine or seek an alternative treatment for it. An overactive gland can cause troubles greater than hair loss. Furthermore, although the medicine can cause hair loss, you might not have given it a long enough chance to work.

Stressful situations lead to hair loss. After having a baby, many women experience a tremendous loss of hair. The same can happen to people who have had an illness, particularly ones that cause fever. Such hair loss almost always reverses, given time.

One of the most common causes for female hair loss is the effect of male hormone on the hair follicle. Women do make male hormones. After menopause, when there is a drop in female hormone production, there is a relative increase in the amount of male hormone in a woman’s body. Just as it does in men, it can make hair follicles wither and die.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My son, 37, had a child nine years ago. He and his second wife want another child but have been unable to have one. His sperm count is down a bit. The urologist says that might be the result of a varicocele and that he might need surgery for it. How did he get a varicocele? He is very nervous about surgery in that area. He has an appointment with a fertility doctor. – Anon.

ANSWER: All men are very nervous about surgery in that area.

A varicocele is a tangle of veins in the scrotum. As many as 15 percent of men have a varicocele. Usually varicoceles do not produce any symptoms, and usually they do not call for any attention.

However, they can affect fertility. One reason for that is that optimum sperm production requires a temperature lower than that of normal body temperature. The testicles are outside the body, so their temperature is below body temperature. The warm blood in the veins of the varicocele raise testicular temperature.

Removing a varicocele is not a daunting challenge. No one likes the thought of having to undergo surgery, but your son will be surprised at how relatively easy this sort of surgery is. There are other techniques, not available everywhere, for ridding a man of a varicocele. One involves injecting the veins with material that causes them to clot and dry up.

In a few instances, varicoceles indicate trouble. A kidney tumor, for example, can cause one to suddenly appear. Having been examined by a urologist, your son is most unlikely to have such a problem.

Before anticipating an operation, your son should wait to hear what the fertility specialist has to say. The specialist might not advise surgery but select an entirely different treatment, one not directed at the varicocele.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 17-year-old boy and am really scared. The tubes in my left testicle are globby-feeling. I don’t know whether to go to the doctor or not. I don’t know what to say to the doctor. I would appreciate your advice. – R.Q.

ANSWER: Certainly see the doctor. Tell the doctor exactly what you told me. Odds are that you are feeling a varicocele, just as the above-described man has. Most of the time nothing need be done about it.

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