Female Hair Loss – The Link to Hormones

Female Hair Loss
Unlike males in whom the majority of hair loss cases can be linked to hereditary male pattern baldness, hair loss in women is often caused by changes in the body’s delicate hormonal balances. These changes can result from any one of the following; pregnancy, miscarriage or termination, use of the contraceptive pill, polycystic ovary syndrome, teenage hormonal changes and the menopause.

The good news is however that in the case of females, these conditions are usually temporary and with treatment, often result in the return of a full head of hair within a relatively short space of time.

Hair Loss following Pregnancy
At the early stages of pregnancy, levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone in the blood supply are increased. This results in the normal hair growth and fall cycle, slowing down. As a result, it seems that hair is in fact thickening and this will often include the eye lash and eye brow hairs. This happens because a greater percentage of a woman’s hair is in the growth cycle or Anagen phase and a lesser percentage, is in the Telogen or resting phase than it would be, under normal circumstances.

If the mother maintains a good standard of health throughout her pregnancy, her hair should continue to flourish, right through until the birth of her baby. At the point of childbirth however, things change again. The hormone levels adjust once more and all the excess hair, that would have normally fallen out by now, reverts to its Telogen phase and does just that, in some cases, by the handful.

This seemingly excessive hair loss can occur one to two months after the baby is born, leaving the tired new mother to deal not only with the stresses and strains of a new baby, but also with possible feelings of unattractiveness and inadequacy, brought on by excess weight, hair loss and a low sex drive.

A couple of months after childbirth, it is usual for the rate of hair loss to return to normal and often, this return to normality can be expedited if the mother chooses to breast feed her new born baby. The milk producing hormone, Prolactin is known to slow down the rate of hair loss in many women.

Throughout this period of excessive and dramatic change, it is important to remember that all of this is temporary, and that as fast as your old Telogen hair is falling out, it is being replaced by new, but shorter Anagen hairs.

After childbirth, many women elect to have a shorter hair style than they had previously and there are very likely, two reasons for this. Firstly, it is easier and quicker to care for. Drying and brushing doesn’t take as long which is important when you have a newborn to care for and secondly, much of their longer hair will have fallen out, so a shorter cut is needed to maintain a sense of style.

Usually, by the time baby is one year old, the mother’s hair has grown back and her long, lustrous locks are returned to her. If this does not happen, it may be because the new mother is suffering from stress or has other health problems like poor circulation or anaemia, all of which are easily treated

Hair Loss Following Miscarriage or Termination
The body cannot distinguish between childbirth, miscarriage or termination. From a physical perspective as far as the body is concerned, these events are very similar and are reacted to in the same way. For this reason you’ll find hair behaves in much the same way as it does during and after full term pregnancy.

Sudden hair loss is caused by an upset to the body’s hormonal balance and hair that had been in the growth or Anagen phase for longer than usual will suddenly revert to Telogen and begin to fall out. This reaction tends to occur approximately three months after the event. If immediate treatment is sought, the hair loss recovery process can be speeded up.

Hair Loss Following use of the Contraceptive Pill
The contraceptive pill contains a concentration of hormones which will directly affect the hormone levels within the body. These effects can manifest in changes to the hair growth cycle. During the initial three months of taking the Pill, some women report hair loss find at a slightly increased rate, whilst others find it grows thicker.

Some contraceptives containing male hormones will result in hair loss that adopts a similar pattern to that of Androgenetic Alopecia or male pattern baldness. Coming off The Pill can also result in hair loss as the body registers a drop in hormonal levels, similar to that occurring after childbirth.

Another affect of the Pill is the increased production of sebum resulting in hair becoming more oily than normal. This however, is a temporary reaction, occurring when either starting or stopping the Pill.

Different forms of contraceptive Pill affect women in different ways, for example, if you notice diffuse hair loss, increased acne and body hair, it is very likely that your body is reacting strongly to the particular type of Pill you are taking. A simple change of contraceptive, to one containing fewer Progestins or one based on ethinoestradiol should rectify the problem and allow treatment to work rapidly afterwards.

Hair Loss Due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
POS results from a malfunction of the ovaries. Instead of producing oestrogen, the ovaries produce the male hormone testosterone. As a result, periods stop, weight goes on, the body becomes infertile, skin gets oily resulting in acne, body hair and facial hair starts to grow and head hair begins to fall out.

With all of these unpleasant side effects it is not surprising that sufferers of PCOS find it very distressing. A woman’s outward appearance and inner confidence can be crushed by this affliction.

The good news is, that with the right treatments, hair loss issues associated with PCOS can be controlled. This is because the hair follicles are still alive and therefore still able to produce new hair and a course of hormone therapy and some minor surgery will usually rectify all of the other associated issues.

Hair Loss Due to Teenage Lifestyle and Hormonal Change
Throughout her teenage years, a young woman’s body is constantly undergoing hormonal change and from puberty through to adulthood, these changes can manifest in any number of different ways. One such manifestation is that of hair loss.

Her lifestyle may not be helping the situation either. The combination of bad eating habits, a lack of quality sleep, the ingestion of excessive amounts of alcohol, nicotine and other recreational drugs and hours spent on the computer, rather than outside in the fresh air will take its toll on the body and can often lead to hair loss and other undesirable effects.

At this important and significantly changing part of her life, a young woman needs good nutrition, a vitamin rich diet with supplementation, regular exercise, quality sleep and relaxation. All these things will help her body to adjust and ease her into adulthood.

Hair Loss Following Menopause
Menopausal women commonly suffer from low thyroid function and one of the effects of this low thyroid functionality is hair loss. The good news is that this is not permanent and that your hair will grow back in time and the process of regrowth can be expedited through the use of the correct treatments.

If your hair loss is occurring at the same time as menopause the chances are that it is due to the medications and the changes in your hormones that are helping your body to deal with the transition. Once passed, your hormone levels will return to balance and your hair will begin to grow again.

Female Hair Loss – click here to find out more about the services we offer.

« Back to articles