As if horrid zits and murderous mood swings weren’t enough, now we can thank those blasted hormones for messing up our hair as well.
It turns out that hormone levels affect both the quality and quantity of hair, making it thin, brittle, or lustreless during certain times.
When? And how? Here’s everything you need to know about hormones and hair loss (along with how to tackle the same!).
Hormonal hair loss: Thyroid troubles
Did you know hair loss is often an early sign of thyroid issues? Yes, those strands falling more than usual could be alerting you to thyroid imbalances. The British Thyroid Foundation highlights that both an overactive (hyperthyroidism) and underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can lead to hair loss.
Why? Because Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3), the thyroid hormones, play crucial roles in both metabolism and hair growth.
Curious if your thyroid is behind your hair loss? Look for diffuse hair loss across the entire scalp, not just in isolated patches. Other signs to watch include thinning eyebrows, unexplained fatigue, and a puffy face — all indicators of thyroid imbalance.
The solution: Schedule a check-up with your healthcare provider to get your thyroid levels tested. If there’s an imbalance, starting medication can significantly affect this form of hormonal hair loss. Meanwhile, nourish your body and hair by eating protein-rich foods and giving your scalp a daily massage.
Hormonal hair loss: Going on and off the pill
Popping the pill changes some women’s hair, usually (thankfully!) for the better. Normally, it makes strands luscious, shiny, and voluminous — particularly if they suffer from hormonal imbalances like PCOS. But go off the pill, and the hormonal changes may lead to sudden hair loss, along with changes in texture.
The solution: Build volume with a thickening shampoo and apply conditioner to the ends so locks don’t become limp. Ensuring a diet rich in vitamins and minerals that support hair health can help mitigate some of the impact of contraceptives on hair.
Hormonal hair loss: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Are you part of the PCOS club? If so, you’re not alone! Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a common endocrine disorder, is the most common cause of female hair loss. It’s all about those androgens — male hormones present in all women but go in overdrive with PCOS.
According to several scientific studies, these pesky hormones, known as androgenic alopecia, can lead to hair thinning on the scalp. Does this link between hormones and hair loss sound familiar?
Here’s another twist: PCOS often leads to insulin resistance, which amps up those androgens even more, leading to more hair loss. Especially if, like many of us, you have a family tree with branches of hereditary hair loss.
The solution: Ask your doctor about androgen-blocking meds to put those male hormones in check and encourage hair regrowth. Birth control pills are another ally, helping to regulate your cycles and dial down androgen levels, which can aid in mitigating this kind of hormonal hair loss.
On the lifestyle front, switching to a diet low in refined carbohydrates and high in protein and fiber can keep insulin resistance at bay. And let’s not forget exercise — it’s a powerhouse in managing PCOS and its mane-taming troubles.
Hair loss from hormonal imbalance: The pregnancy zone
Welcome to the rollercoaster of pregnancy hair! For many moms-to-be, this period is like stepping into a hair commercial. You get that dreamy, thick mane that turns heads thanks to a surge in progesterone and estrogen levels. These hormones work overtime, prolonging your hair’s growth phase, meaning less shedding and more fabulous locks.
But here comes the twist. In the final trimester and the following months, you might feel like your hair’s in a bit of a drama. Post-delivery, when those hormone levels take a nosedive, many new moms experience postpartum hair shedding, a.k.a telogen effluvium.
The American Pregnancy Association notes that postpartum hair loss often peaks around three months after giving birth, and you might even notice your hair’s texture pulling a switcheroo – from straight to curly or the other way around.
But here’s the silver lining: this is usually a temporary phase. Expect your hair to bounce back to its pre-pregnancy glory in about 6-8 months as your hormone levels stabilize.
The solution: Dive into a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and give those chemical treatments a break. Consider shampoos with hair-loving ingredients like keratin to plump up those strands.
And why not experiment with a new hairstyle? A fresh, shorter cut can make your hair look fuller and sassier to counter this type of hair loss. If things don’t settle down after a year, it might be time to chat with your GP.
Hormones and hair loss: Stress saboteurs
Feeling stressed and spotting more hair on your pillow or a few unexpected silver strands? You’re not alone in this. Stress doesn’t just mess with your mind, it’s also a notorious troublemaker for your hair.
When stress levels rise, so do your cortisol levels, setting off a domino effect that disrupts other hormones crucial for keeping your hair in its growth phase.
According to The Harvard Gazette, these hormone changes can send your hair follicles into an unscheduled nap, known as telogen effluvium, leading to more hair finding its way to your hairbrush than usual.
But wait, there’s more! Stress also pumps out hormones like adrenaline, which interfere with the absorption of B vitamins – vital for keeping your hair its natural color. No wonder studies link stress with those premature greys!
The solution: Embracing a B-vitamin complex supplement can help replenish what stress depletes. Incorporating stress-busting activities like meditation, yoga, or a good old workout can be your secret weapon against stress-induced hair woes.
Hormones and hair loss: Androgenetic Alopecia
Did you know that a staggering 50% of women, often before hitting the big 5-0, find themselves grappling with a hair loss syndrome that’s etched in their genes? It’s all about an unusual sensitivity of hair follicles to androgens — those male hormones that even we women produce.
Harvard Health sheds light on this: female pattern AGA (Androgenetic Alopecia) typically thins out hair at the crown, leading to a part that keeps getting wider, though the hairline stays put.
Less commonly, some women might experience a male pattern AGA, where the hair recedes at the temples, forming an M-shaped hairline. In both scenarios, your hair plays a disappearing act — getting shorter, finer, and lighter with each growth cycle.
The solution: Rogaine is the only over-the-counter product cleared to promote hair regrowth in women with AGA. It’s not a magic potion, though — it works for less than half who try it, requires a twice-daily commitment, takes about 32 weeks to show results, and the moment you stop, its magic wanes.
Hormones and hair loss: Menopause
Menopause brings more than just hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain; it also ushers in a significant shift in your hair’s health. As estrogen and progesterone levels dip and testosterone levels increase, research shows this hormonal change can noticeably affect your hair, causing it to thin on top and become finer in texture.
This relative rise in androgens can further exacerbate hair thinning, leading to female pattern baldness, a condition similar to its male counterpart. During this time, many women also notice a change in their hair’s texture and color, with strands becoming finer and grayer.
The solution: You can combat these changes with a healthy diet rich in phytoestrogens — plant compounds that mimic estrogen. Foods like nuts, seeds, and berries are excellent choices, particularly those rich in flavonoids, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranates. Including plant proteins like soy milk, tofu, and edamame can also help.
Diagnosis of Hormonal Imbalances As Causes Of Hair Loss
If you suspect that hormone imbalance might be the reason behind your hair loss, it’s time to get some professional insights. Partnering with a medical professional is your best bet in uncovering the cause. Here’s how the investigation typically unfolds:
The Medical History Review: Your doctor will start by exploring your lifestyle, current medications, and other potential factors that could be influencing your hormone levels.
Physical Examination: A thorough examination of your scalp, hair, and skin is next on the agenda. This helps in spotting any physical signs that might indicate a hormonal imbalance.
Blood Tests: These are crucial in measuring various hormone levels, including thyroid hormones, androgens, and estrogens. These levels could contribute to your hair loss if they are not in the normal range.
Hair Analysis: Sometimes, your doctor might take a sample of your hair for analysis. This is to check for any indications of hormonal issues or other causes like nutritional deficiencies.
After gathering all the necessary information, your doctor can map out suitable treatment options for healthy hair growth. This might involve medications, lifestyle modifications, or other targeted therapies to address hormonal imbalances and encourage hair regrowth.
Early diagnosis is key to effectively managing and potentially reversing hormonal hair loss.