First, medications for hair loss are actually fairly effective. Minoxidil (Rogaine) can help to prevent/slow further loss and promote some regrowth. It's one of the most common treatments because it's available over the counter and is easy to use. Although it isn't a sure-fire cure for baldness, for people with thinning and bald spots, it can help to add some thickness to the hair to make the spots less apparent. The hair growth can take up to four months to begin, but with continued use, the downy early growth will start to look more like your real hair - thicker and less fragile.
There are also prescription options like Finasteride (Propecia). Instead of rubbing something on your head, with Propecia you take a pill that prevents testosterone from converting into a follicle-shrinking hormone called DHT, which is one of the main causes of male-pattern baldness. We should note here that the is a Minoxidil/Rogaine formula for women, but Propecia should only be used by men. (The whole testosterone/DHT issue isn't usually the reason for female pattern baldness, and it can be detrimental for women to use it. Pregnant women shouldn't even handle broken tablets.)
A third option is Corticosteroids, cortizone injections into the scalp. This treatment is a once-a-month treatment from a doctor, and results usually happen more quickly than with Rogaine or Propecia (about 4 weeks instead of 4 months), but still requires persistent treatments.
If other treatments fail, there are more drastic surgical measures - hair transplants and scalp reductions help. The idea is to shrink the size of the bald spot and cover the remaining spot with a hair-growing piece of scalp. These surgeries are painful, expensive, and may not always be effective, but for those desperate to have hair, they are available.
For some people, the best option might be just investing in a high-quality wig that looks natural, or just shaving your head and going with it.
Good luck with your hair loss woes!