The good news here is that is that not all stress-related hair loss is permanent. It is important to find the cause of any stress or anxiety firstly, as that will allow the patient to tackle it correctly.
This, in most cases, in itself reduces the level of stress related hair loss and allows the lost hair to regrow. It is important to note, however, that your hair loss may not be solely stress related and could also be the result of an underlying medical condition. For this reason, it is always important to consult your GP.
Unlike men, women are protected from hair loss by oestrogen. After the menopause, oestrogen levels drop and therefore most women experience some degree of thinning post menopause. Hair loss which occurs before this, however, can be the result of any of the above factors and can occur at any time.
There are a number of medical treatments that can help reduce hair loss during or after the menopause. These include a specially compounded prescription minoxidil solution, prostaglandin analogs, low-level laser therapy, off-label finasteride (for post-menopausal women only) and nutritional supplements.
6. Pregnancy and Childbirth
Pregnancy and childbirth are known to alter a woman’s hormonal balance which in turn can lead to temporary hair loss.
In most cases the hair will start to re-grow naturally after about 90 days of giving birth and if the hair growth doesn’t return to normal after about a year, it is worth seeing your GP or a trichologist to check for other underlying causes.
No man likes to see himself starting to lose hair, but hair loss in trans men poses some specific challenges. Since the most common form of hair loss, which is formally known as androgenetic alopecia, is hormone related, balancing it with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be tricky.
Androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss, tends to be more common and more noticeable in men. Two-thirds of American men will have noticeable signs of androgenetic alopecia by age 35 and about 85% of men will have severe hair thinning by age 50. About 25% of the male population begins to lose their hair by age 21.
Androgenetic alopecia occurs because some people are susceptible to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which makes hair follicles become shorter in length, narrower in diameter, and lighter in color. Finasteride, commercially known as Propecia, can slow or block the production of DHT, thereby slowing the progression of hair loss.
- Trans Men, Hormones & Hair Loss
- RHRLI Offers Transgender Hair Transplants for Men
- Hair Restoration Brownwood, TX
- Hair Loss Causes & Solutions
- Hormone Replacement Therapy as a Hair Loss Treatment
- Estrogen and Hair Loss: What is the Connection?
- Estrogen Explained
- Estrogen and Hair Loss – Just HOW are They Connected?
- Low Estrogen and Hair Loss
- Solutions for Low Estrogen and Hair Loss
- Natural Ways to Boost Estrogen
- Is Low Estrogen REALLY the Problem?
- Too MUCH Estrogen and Hair Loss – Estrogen Dominance
- How to Avoid Estrogen Dominance
- The Relationship Between Thyroid Problems, Estrogen and Hair Loss
- Estrogen and Hair loss – Your Plan of Action!
- Menopause Taboos: Thinning Hair, Painful Sex, and What You Can Do to Stop Them
- Liberated Women of the 60s and 70s Don’t Speak Up
- New Pill Treats VVA Without Raising Breast Cancer Risk
- Why Do Women Lose Hair During Menopause?
- A Hair Transplant Patient Tells Her Story
- Can Hair Loss Due to Hormone Imbalance be Reversed?
The ZRT Laboratory Blog
- Hair Follicles Cycle Between Rest and Growth
- The Stress – Tress Connection
- Sex Hormones – Not Just for Reproduction
- Estrogen increases the amount of time that hair spends in the growing phase, so when estrogen declines, hair loses these protective effects.
- Ferritin – Not That Kind of Store
- Thyroid Hormone
- Vitamin D – the “Sunshine” Vitamin and so Much More!
- Vitamin B12 – the “Energy Vitamin”
- Clinical Evaluation – Talk to Your Doctor!
- Related Resources
- How Estrogen and Hair Loss Are Connected
- Estrogen Dominance
- Solutions for Estrogen Hair Loss
Trans Men, Hormones & Hair Loss
For trans men, hormone replacement therapy involves increasing the amount of testosterone and DHT, both of which involve secondary male characteristics, and decreasing the amount of estrogen. Decreasing the amount of estrogen affects secondary female characteristics. Taking testosterone and DHT supplements helps trans men develop secondary sex traits like a deeper voice and changes to muscle development and fat distribution. This is where DHT’s role in hair loss is complicated for trans men.
Complications with DHT for Hair Loss in Trans Men
Trans men can take finasteride/Propecia to deter DHT’s tendency to contribute to hair loss on the head, and it works well for some. However, doing so could interfere with what DHT does for trans men in other ways, such as encouraging facial hair growth. Some trans men who took finasteride or Propecia have even reported that their menstrual cycle returned after a few months on the hair loss medications. That’s a side effect trans men generally don’t want. It can even trigger gender dysphoria for trans men, causing great mental distress.
Some trans men try to find a middle ground. They wait to address the hair loss to give their hormone replacement therapy time to develop beards and such. Then, when they’ve reached a satisfactory level of facial hair, they start finasteride, hoping that it will curb the loss of hair on their heads without affecting their beards or other physical traits. It has worked for some, but not for others.
Alternatives to Finasteride/Propecia
If finasteride/Propecia hampers hormone replacement therapy for a trans man, he could try minoxidil, which is commercially known as Rogaine. Originally created as a high blood pressure treatment, minoxidil had the side effect of stimulating hair growth. It’s the only medication other than finasteride that has been FDA approved for treating androgenetic alopecia. It works by increasing blood flow to the hair follicle. However, Rogaine tends only to slow or stop further hair loss. It doesn’t necessarily reverse existing hair loss.
RHRLI Offers Transgender Hair Transplants for Men
For hair rejuvenation without hormones, Robotic Hair Restoration might be a good solution. An evaluation is needed to determine if there is enough good donor hair for the FUE hair transplant procedure. This solution avoids hormone disruption entirely so you won’t have to worry about those side effects.
Get a Free Hair Analysis at RHRLI
Dr. Baiju Gohil is a board-certified surgeon and expert in hair restoration using the ARTAS® system. His commitment to patient care and quality is known as the RHRLI Edge, which also includes a personal hair analysis and consultation for each patient by Dr. Gohil himself. To learn more as to why RHRLI is Long Island’s hair restoration leader, contact us today. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see how easy this process is along with before & after photos!
In transgender men, or trans masculine people (FTM), the most common medication used for transition is testosterone. Administration of testosterone (via transdermal, intramuscular, subcutaneous, or oral routes) lowers serum estradiol levels, raises serum testosterone levels, and results in the development of typical male secondary sex characteristics. Irreversible changes include: deepening of the voice, increase in facial and body hair growth, clitoral enlargement (clitoromegaly), and thickened facial bone structure. Reversible changes include amenorrhea, male-pattern fat distribution, increased muscle mass, vaginal atrophy, and male-pattern baldness. Some trans men also describe changes in emotions (e.g., inability to cry, increased anger) as well as increased libido. Adverse effects can include elevations in blood pressure, polycythemia, worsening of lipid profile, elevations in glucose, elevations in transaminases, acne, and effects on fertility (although testosterone is not an effective contraceptive as it does not interrupt ovulation, so pregnancy can still occur).
Finasteride can also be used to prevent male-pattern baldness in transgender men, as it only blocks dihydrotestosterone (DHT), not testosterone itself; however this will likely slow or decrease secondary hair growth, and may slow or decrease clitoromegaly as well.
In transgender women or trans feminine people (MTF), the most commonly used medications are estrogens and anti-androgens. Administration of estrogen (via oral, sublingual, transdermal, intramuscular, or subcutaneous routes) lower serum testosterone levels, raises serum estradiol levels, and results in the development of typical female secondary sex characteristics including: breast growth, softer skin, decreased muscle mass, and female-pattern fat distribution. These effects are largely reversible. Estrogen can also cause testicular and penile atrophy (ultimately resulting in potential erectile dysfunction and infertility). Some trans women also describe changes in emotions (e.g., more tearful) as well as decreased libido. Adverse effects can include increased risk for thrombosis, elevations in blood pressure, elevations in prolactin (rarely including development of a prolactinoma), migraines, elevations in transaminases and effects on fertility (although estrogen is not an effective contraceptive). Estrogens will NOT heighten voice pitch, decrease facial hair, change facial bone structure, or reverse male-pattern baldness. Other methodologies would need to be employed (e.g., voice training, electrolysis or laser hair removal, facial feminization surgery, hair restoration, etc).
Anti-androgens (i.e. spironolactone, bicalutamide, flutamide, finasteride) are also commonly used in trans women who have not had an orchiectomy. These medications block the effects of testosterone, resulting in decreased erectile function and allowing estrogen to develop typical female secondary sex characteristics. Finasteride, however, specifically targets dihydrotestosterone (DHT), not testosterone, so it is not as effective at lowering total testosterone levels.
GnRH Agonists (i.e. Lupron) could also be used instead of Anti-Androgens to block endogenous testosterone production. Lupron is typically given intramuscularly every couple months and is very effective at blocking total testosterone levels. However, it can be difficult to obtain insurance coverage for it, and is otherwise fairly expensive out of pocket.
Progesterones activate the androgen receptors slightly, so may be used to improve libido and mood. in some cases, it may be indicated to maximize breast growth, though this is likely happening via weight gain. Of note, some studies show a possible increased risk for VTE, cardiovascular disease and/or breast cancer with use.
Not all transgender patients will want to take medications for gender transition and the risks, benefits and alternatives should be discussed with each individual along with their personal goals for transition to determine the right course.
Hair Restoration Brownwood, TX
Hair Loss Causes & Solutions
Hair loss is a common problem these days and no single factor can be attributed to it. Hair loss afflicts millions of people—and not just men, though their hair loss is often the most noticeable. Most women, too, experience some degree of hair loss as they grow older. The causes of hair loss are several and vary from person to person. Creative Image Laser Solutions in Brownwood, Texas will help get your hair, and confidence back. Contact us today to schedule a consultation for hair loss treatments.
The causes of hair loss can be broadly divided into two groups. One is a temporary effect and the other involves a prolonged action, usually involving genetics. In most of the cases when the hair loss is temporary it can be cured by medications and treatments. In contrast, long-term (prolonged) hair loss may require long-term treatment and sometimes, surgery such as hair transplantation may be required.
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Hormonal imbalance can play a major role in temporary hair loss and can have a severe impact. Some of the common causes of hair loss diseases are: Hormonal Imbalances, Inadequate Diet, and Medical Illnesses.
In men hormonal imbalance is one of the major causes of hair loss. The male hormone that causes severe hair loss is testosterone. The enzyme, 5 alpha reductase, which is present in the hair follicles converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The DHT is the most potent androgen that promotes androgenetic alopecia – the common pattern of male baldness or premature hair loss.
Hair Loss in Women
Hair loss in women is often difficult to diagnose and can be caused by many factors, including alopecia areata, hormone imbalances, menopause, dietary protein and amino acid deficiency, intestinal parasites, damage from hair treatments, and stress. Imbalance in thyroid hormones is one of the more common causes of sudden hair loss in women. When the thyroid gland is overactive or under active, the hair may fall out. The hair follicles are particularly sensitive to concentrations of thyroid gland derived hormones. Thyroid hormones have a large influence on the cellular metabolism of scalp proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and minerals. The cells of the hair matrix, due to their high degree of metabolic activity, are most profoundly influenced by the deficiency or excess of thyroid hormones.
Women reaching the menopausal age can experience hair loss which is believed to be linked to hormonal changes. To learn more about the treating hair loss related to menopause, visit our blog that discusses hormone replacement therapy.
Hair loss due to a hormonal imbalance is also largely seen in women during pregnancy. During pregnancy, there is a high level of estrogen hormones, but after the child birth there is a rapid fall in the estrogen level and large number of hair follicles fall out. Sometimes, hair loss in women is observed during the post-pregnancy period. Childbirth almost always causes some degree of temporary hair loss, sometimes occurring after a delay of a few months. Long-term hair loss after pregnancy may indicate the presence of a hormonal imbalance in the body.
Nutrition & Diet
Nutrition also has an impact on hair loss and takes on many forms of over and under absorption of various nutrients. American’s high-fat, high-animal protein and high-salt diet damages the kidneys and creates acidic blood, thereby leading to hair loss. Also, the typical American diet is also usually low in vitamins and sometimes can either be under or over absorbed by an individual. Poor appetite, digestion and poor absorption are also experienced by adults with zinc deficiency and even taking too large amounts of vitamins such as Vitamin A over long periods can be toxic to the body. Some people take up crash diets in order to achieve rapid weight loss that are low in protein, vitamins and minerals and may lead to malnutrition. Other people are prone to abnormal eating habits leading to an unhealthy diet.
When there is a lack of nutrients being absorbed or consumed, the body will naturally try to economize by shifting growing hairs into resting phase. As hair is made up of keratin, a form of protein, and requires several minerals and protein to make the hair, during protein scarcity period, the hair fibers are forcibly sent into a resting phase, and hair shedding occurs after a period of time. But the condition can be reversed and prevented by eating a proper nutritious diet.
Illnesses can also cause hair loss. High fever, severe infection, or flu are some of the serious illnesses that may cause the hair follicles to enter a resting phase as well. Some cancer treatments also prevent the dividing of hair follicle cells and as a result the growth of the hair fiber is stopped and the hair becomes thin, breaks off and gradually hair loss occurs. This hair loss starts within 1-3 weeks after the beginning of the chemotherapy treatment and patients can lose upwards of 90% of their hair. Other medical conditions can be fungus, gastro-intestinal problems, or other types of dermatological disorders may result in hair loss.
There are also natural reasons for hair loss such as improper hair care that result in severe hair loss diseases like traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is a condition in which the hair fibers are pulled out from the hair follicle by a hairstyle that pulls on the roots of the hair fibers. Sometimes the strong chemicals that are used in hair treatments are kept on the hair for a longer period than they should be.
Hair Loss Treatments
So if you are experiencing hair loss, baldness, or thinning hair, always remember, many of the causes of hair loss are temporary and can be prevented with the right measures and proper care. Our approach to hair loss is multi-factorial, we take into effect nutrition, hormonal imbalances, lifestyle issues, and your past medical history in addressing the issue. Hormonal panels are typically performed and a natural balancing of your hormones is prescribed if needed as well as recommendations for diet and nutritional products to reverse thinning or premature hair loss. Our staff in Brownwood, Texas understands that hair loss is multifaceted and will address these factors in a variety of treatment protocols. Most hair loss is avoidable, so give yourself piece of mind that you have pursued all avenues in reversing your hair loss concerns.
Hormone Replacement Therapy as a Hair Loss Treatment
When women experience thinning hair and balding on the scalp, they have a number of options.
Women may opt for a topical treatment like minoxidil (Rogaine) or ketoconazole shampoo (Nizoral shampoo) as their hair loss treatment.
But women who are menopausal, experiencing severe hot flashes, and are prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for their menopausal symptoms may get a double-whammy benefit: HRT can be a good treatment for hair loss, as well.
About Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy involves taking female hormones, typically estrogen and progestin together. Women may get these hormones in varying forms, including estrogen and progesterone creams, pills, and patches.
HRT is most often prescribed to help women combat the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, including:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Loss of libido
Menopausal women may also take hormone replacement therapy to ward off osteoporosis, a bone-thinning condition that is common in women after menopause due to a drop in estrogen levels.
HRT and Hair Loss
Estrogen is related to hair growth — and hair loss. During pregnancy, for example, a woman’s estrogen levels are higher than normal, which signals more hair follicles to “grow” and fewer to “rest.”
While estrogen levels are high, women have full, thick hair. But when they drop, such as after a pregnancy or during and after menopause, more hair enters the “resting” phase, where it soon falls out and causes thinning and even balding patches.
So for women who have hair loss caused by low estrogen levels, hormone replacement therapy may restore estrogen levels, ward off menopausal symptoms — and slow hair loss.
HRT as a Hair Loss Treatment: Benefits and Risks
Although it’s generally only prescribed as a last resort for menopausal symptoms, hormone replacement therapy is a common and very effective hair loss treatment for some women — as long as they are menopausal or post-menopausal and are not at higher risk for adverse effects from HRT. It’s most often prescribed for women who have androgenetic alopecia, also called pattern baldness. Hormone replacement therapy has a number of benefits for both general health and symptom management, but also a number of side effects — which range from unpleasant to dangerous.
Serious side effects of hormone replacement therapy can include:
- Slightly increased risk of breast cancer (when HRT is taken long-term)
- Higher risk of dying if you do get breast cancer
- For women with an intact uterus, increased risk of uterine cancer if estrogen replacement is not accompanied by progesterone therapy
- Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
- Increased risk of blood clots
Some women may experience uncomfortable side effects that are less serious, including:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (which will need to be evaluated to rule out the possibility of uterine cancer)
- Nausea and bloating
- Frequent headaches
- Sore breasts
Before you start hormone replacement therapy, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the possible risks and negative effects versus the benefits of HRT. If you’re already at an increased risk for health conditions like heart disease, cancer, and blood clots, HRT may not be the best hair loss treatment for you. If you are prescribed HRT, it important to take the lowest doses that are effective, and to only take the drugs for the shortest amount of time needed to control symptoms.
Getting HRT: Progesterone and Estrogen Pills and Creams
Topical estrogen and progesterone creams and oral medications are generally the forms prescribed for post-menopausal women with androgenetic alopecia. But HRT will rarely, if ever, be prescribed for treatment of hair loss alone.] If you have other bothersome symptoms which might warrant HRT, in addition to hair loss, you’ll first need to undergo a thorough gynecologic and physical exam, and will likely have blood tests done to measure hormone levels before these drugs are prescribed.
You will need to check with your health insurance company to find out if hormone replacement therapy will be fully or partially covered, or how much your copayment will be. If you don’t have health insurance, costs can still vary greatly depending on the type of medication you get, and whether you take brand name or generic drugs. Prices may range from as little as about $7 per month to as high as $150 a month for hormone replacement therapy.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to deciding whether hormone replacement therapy is the right hair loss treatment for you. Talk it over with your doctor, and determine the best way to restore hair growth without risking your health.
Last week, we schooled you on the foods and vitamins for long, healthy hair. Today, Kristin Dahl, a Los Angeles-based nutritionist and women’s wellness educator, is back again to talk about all things hormones and hair loss. Keep reading for Dahl’s guide to maintaining optimum hormonal balance, how stress can mess with your mane, lock-block hair growth, and more. As the founder of The Women’s Wellness Collective and the holistic lifestyle hub, Dahl House Nutrition, Dahl knows what she’s talking about so we’d take notes if we were you.
Estrogen Levels and Hair Loss
When hormones are off balance, our hair tends to be dry and thinning. For example, women with thyroid imbalances, new mothers, or menopausal women may experience hair loss due to a drop in levels of estrogen.
Androgen hormones like testosterone and DHEA are the major hormones that dictate hair growth. In women, the ovaries and adrenals are responsible for producing these hormones from cholesterol. An excess in these hormones can lead to unwanted hair growth on the face and body, but not having enough can lead to thinning and dull hair.
Optimal levels of estrogen help to grow full thick hair, while low estrogen levels lead to thin and stalled hair growth, which eventually leads to hair loss. Through the years, a women will go through various cycles of highs and lows in estrogen levels. Puberty is typically associated with high estrogen levels as a woman starts to cycle through menstruation. Pregnancy typically increases hormone production, but once the baby has been delivered the mother can experience a drop in estrogen levels, which can result in thinning and loss of hair. Typically, this corrects itself as the woman’s body heals and hormonal regulation returns to normal. The largest decline in estrogen levels is during menopause. Estrogen is secreted through the ovaries and adrenal glands. When a woman hits menopause, the ovaries’ estrogen production is significantly diminished, which puts an excess burden on the adrenals to produce it. However, as the adrenals are typically overburdened due to stress, symptoms of menopauses like hair loss and hot flashes occur prematurely and excessively for some. Nourishing the body and balancing stress levels will support gentle and graceful transitions.
Check Your Stress
Stress reduction may be the most important step to hormonal balance. Stress, whether it be mental, physical or emotional all takes a toll on how balanced our hormones are. Find a relaxation activity you enjoy and practice it daily. Some examples are yoga, meditating, walking in nature, and deep breathing.
Adaptogenic herbs are some of the most supportive remedies for stress and hormone regulation.
And Blood Sugar Levels
Insulin regulation is also a big factor in hair health, as an imbalance can lead to various hormonal effects. Insulin helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which effects fat storage and hormone balance. Fat storage and hormone balance play a role in hair growth because fat storages will secrete excess estrogen in the body, and can desensitize hormone signals.
Natural Remedies for Regulating Hormones
- Optimal elimination: This is a necessity for hormonal balance. When we are constipated, we are unable to eliminate excess hormones from our system. Adequate fiber, water intake, and liver support are necessary for proper clearance:
- Fiber: Eating leafy vegetables, and a variety of fruits helps to bulk stool and supports elimination. Foods like chia and flax bind to toxins and pull moisture into the stools so that it can easily pass.
- Water: is essential for proper hydration and moves stool through the intestine. When we are dehydrated, this leads to constipation as our bowels become dry and are unable to function with ease.
- Liver support: is necessary to eliminate unneeded wastes from the body. Everything we take in is processed through the liver and toxins are broken down into water soluble byproducts so they can be moved into the intestine and pulled into the stool for elimination. Foods like cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, collard greens) and lemon support the liver detox pathways. Herbs like milk thistle, dandelion root, and burdock root help to support liver cleansing.
Hair thinning, super-oily, or dry as hay? Click here to learn more about OUAI Supplements
Estrogen and Hair Loss: What is the Connection?
Estrogen and hair loss are connected – and on this page we look at how too little (or too much) of this female hormone can have a significant impact on the growth of your hair.
Estrogen (known as oestrogen in some parts of the world) isn’t just a single hormone – it’s actually a group of female sex hormones.
The group includes estradiol (the type we have most of in our bodies and the one most often given in supplementary form), estriol (most abundant during pregnancy) and estrone (the type we produce during menopause).
Estrogen is made in the ovaries and to a lesser extent in other tissues of the body. Whilst women have the most, men have some estrogen too.
Also, make sure you take the free hair quiz further down in this article.
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Estrogen is responsible for giving us our ‘feminine’ characteristics, essentially doing the opposite of the male hormone testosterone and blocking its effects (because the female body DOES contain some testosterone).
The Role of Estrogen
- Reduces bodily hair
- Promotes the growth of the hair on your head
- Controls your height (explaining why men are usually taller than women)
- Reduces the mass of your muscles
- Promotes the growth of breasts and gives you your ‘womanly curves’
- Helps regulate your menstrual cycle
- Keeps your skin smooth
- Keeps wrinkles at bay
- Keeps the vagina moist and promotes libido
- Helps keep depression at bay and contributes to a positive outlook
- Helps prevent fatigue
Clearly, estrogen (or oestrogen) is important to our over all well-being… and our hair – that ‘barometer of health’ – can be one of the first areas affected when something upsets the hormonal balance in our bodies.
Source: Dr Claudia Aguirre
Estrogen and Hair Loss – Just HOW are They Connected?
Our hair grows in stages…
- The ‘growing’ stage (called the anagen phase), lasting for several years
- The ‘resting’ stage (called the catagen phase), lasting for a few weeks
- The ‘shedding’ stage (called the telogen phase), lasting for a few months
Source: Dr Maryellen Smith
There is evidence that estrogen actually slows the rate of growth, extending the growth phase so more hair is at this stage at any moment in time.
This is why women’s hair is more abundant than men’s.
Remember, too, that estrogen works in opposition to the testosterone in the female body, preventing the hair loss that testosterone can cause.
What’s more, studies suggest that estrogen doesn’t JUST protect against hair loss, but actually stimulates new hair growth.
The relationship between estrogen and hair loss is particularly noticeable during pregnancy, when the higher concentrations give women hair that’s thicker, healthier and more plentiful than usual.
This ‘extra’ hair, however, tends to fall out within several months of giving birth.
Low Estrogen and Hair Loss
Whilst elevated estrogen levels during pregnancy encourage hair growth, decreased estrogen levels in the body may contribute to hair loss.
This is most noticeable during menopause, when estrogen levels tend to drop and the hair follicles fall under the influence of the male hormone testosterone, shortening the growth phase.
The subsequent hair loss is usually gradual, but noticeable.
Hair loss caused by fluctuating estrogen levels tends to be ‘diffuse’ (all over the scalp), or may cause a wider part. It does not tend to cause ‘patchy’ hair loss or baldness.
You may also notice hair loss if you’re taking supplementary estrogen, then stop.
Case in point are women who come off birth control, only to find that their hair begins to shed at a rapid rate. This tends to be temporary, however, and usually corrects itself when the body rediscovers its hormonal balance.
The link between estrogen and hair loss can also be seen in women treated for cancer, when the ovarian function is destroyed, or in menopausal women whose ovaries are removed.
In either case, the body’s estrogen levels will drop significantly (remember – the ovaries are the main ‘producers’ of estrogen).
If no supplemental hormones are offered, the menopause-like symptoms such as hot flashes, skin thinning and hair loss will result.
And – as we mentioned earlier – the sudden drop in estrogen levels following pregnancy can trigger hair loss, although its usually the excess hair that was gained in pregnancy that’s falling out, and the hair isn’t actually any thinner than it was in pre-pregnancy days.
Source: Belgravia Centre
Solutions for Low Estrogen and Hair Loss
If your doctor suspects that your hair loss is caused by a lack of estrogen then (s)he may offer you supplementary estrogen – known as Hormone Replacement Therapy – either taken orally or applied topically (to the skin) as a gel or patch.
Some women are given the birth control pill to boost their estrogen levels.
That being said, estrogen supplementation is still somewhat controversial, with some sources pointing out that there are no controlled medical studies supporting its effectiveness, whilst others stating that…
“… estrogen deficiency as a cause of hair loss has not found its way into medical textbooks, but this does not stop it from happening.”
Some women report seeing a big improvement in their hair loss once their estrogen levels are supplemented, others not so much.
But it’s worth bearing in mind that different people react in different ways to supplementation based on all sorts of factors.
It’s best not to decide upon YOUR plan of action by comparing yourself to others – rather, we recommend discussing the situation with your doctor or – even better – endocrinologist.
We also recommend ensuring that it really IS low estrogen that’s causing your hair loss.
Later in this article we’ll look at other ways in which estrogen and hair loss are connected… ways that may explain why supplementary estrogen doesn’t work for everyone and may even make hair loss worse.
Natural Ways to Boost Estrogen
Certain foods are considered to be good sources of phytoestrogens – these are berries, seeds (flaxseeds in particular), grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and – above all – soy beans and soy products.
However, there are some concerns over a diet high in soy and this research article looks at the pros and cons of phytoestrogens, pointing out that they may have just as many harmful side effects and synthetic estrogens (more on those later in this article), yet are perceived to be somehow ‘better’ for us.
In particular, the research notes that soy may have unwanted effects on the developing child during pregnancy, so it’s certainly not advisable to increase soy consumption if you’re pregnant.
Our advice would be to maintain a HEALTHY diet and to try to eliminate as much stress from your life as possible (easier said than done, we know!).
But too much stress can really cause estrogen levels to drop – as can smoking. Quitting smoking can boost those estrogen levels AND improve your over all well-being.
Is Low Estrogen REALLY the Problem?
Looking at the Relationship Between Progesterone, Estrogen and Hair Loss
Some doctors may automatically assume that it’s LOW estrogen that’s causing your hair loss, particularly if you’re going through menopause.
Other experts, however, dispute this, pointing to an IMBALANCE of hormones as the possible cause of your thinning hair.
Our bodies produce both estrogen and progesterone during our childbearing years and these hormones work most effectively when balanced.
Progesterone plays a variety of roles in the human body and helps…
- reduce water retention
- keep depression at bay
- use fat to produce energy
- maintain libido
- improve mental function
As we begin to approach menopause, the amount of progesterone we produce starts to drop, until it stops altogether AFTER menopause.
Estrogen drops too, but it’s available from other sources AND our bodies continue making it to some extent outside the ovaries.
But very little progesterone is available from other sources and once our ovaries stop producing it, the balance between the estrogen and progesterone in our bodies becomes ‘upset’.
Hair loss – plus a whole host of other typically menopausal symptoms – can be the result.
By assuming that your problem is caused by low estrogen – and attempting to boost levels by supplementing with EXTRA estrogen – you can find your hair loss problem gets even worse.
The imbalance between the estrogen and progesterone in your body would simply increase.
It’s vitally important, therefore, to have your hormone levels tested to ensure that your hormones are balanced and that you don’t have too MUCH estrogen in relation to progesterone… a situation known as estrogen dominance.
Too MUCH Estrogen and Hair Loss – Estrogen Dominance
Just HOW do our hormones get so ‘out of kilter’ during menopause?
As described above, our progesterone and estrogen levels do not drop in ‘harmony’ – the progesterone levels drop faster and this leaves us with estrogen dominance.
And the reason that our estrogen levels do not drop as much is that they are available environmentally as well as in other tissues of our bodies besides our ovaries.
Of course, the ovaries are the primary source of estrogen prior to menopause, but AFTER menopause the fatty tissues of the body continue to produce estrogen.
What’s more, phytoestrogens are obtained from plants (as discussed earlier) and xenoestrogens are obtained environmentally, from all sorts of products from plastics to nail polish, and also from pesticides, dairy products and hormonally supplemented red meat and chicken.
In fact, some sources suggest that there is so MUCH estrogen available environmentally that it’s rare for estrogen deficiency to be responsible for menopausal symptoms like hair loss – it’s far more likely for estrogen dominance to be the cause instead.
A full Hormone Panel test will look at all your hormonal levels and is a good way to establish if estrogen dominance is contributing to YOUR hair loss.
Ask Dr Anna
Estrogen and Hair Loss – Dr Lam
How to Avoid Estrogen Dominance
- Of course, the most important thing is to ensure that you are properly tested to verify just what is causing your hair loss – if you are unnecessarily supplemented with estrogen, then any imbalance will increase.
- Avoid environmental estrogen. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, avoid over-consumption of soy products and look for meat and dairy products from animals that have NOT been treated with hormones.
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight – extra estrogen is produced in fat cells.
- Keep your gut healthy with a good diet – we like to include probiotics (from natural live yogurt) to replenish helpful gut bacteria. If your intestinal health is under par, excess estrogen can actually be re-absorbed into the digestive tract
(source: Dr Kaslow)
- Avoid refined carbohydrates (like white bread, white rice and white pasta).
- If you’re of Asian descent, consider limiting your caffeine intake. Studies have shown that caffeine consumption can cause elevated estrogen levels in Asian women.
The Relationship Between Thyroid Problems, Estrogen and Hair Loss
Interestingly, estrogen dominance can lead to the symptoms of thyroid problems, one of which is hair loss!
What happens is that the liver creates too much thyroid binding globulin (TBG) when estrogen levels are high.
TBG binds the thyroid hormones in the blood, meaning that they can’t be absorbed as needed by the cells in the body that use them to support the body’s metabolism.
The difficulty is that standard blood tests for thyroid conditions don’t show up the problem.
The AMOUNT of thyroid hormone in the blood is just as it should be – but the hormone is being bound by the TBG.
The result is that the symptoms of thyroid problems start to appear.
TBG can, however, be detected with a blood test, so it’s important to bear this in mind and ask to be tested if you feel this may be the problem you’re experiencing.
Estrogen and Hair loss – Your Plan of Action!
- Have your hormone levels tested, to establish whether you are suffering from low estrogen – or too much estrogen in proportion to progesterone – to ensure you are receiving the appropriate medical treatment.
- Consider getting your iron levels checked – low iron can also contribute to hair loss.
- Speak to your doctor about your zinc status – zinc is crucial for healthy hair growth.
- Use relaxation techniques, yoga, or whatever works for you to keep your stress levels to a minimum.
- Stop smoking.
- Enjoy a healthy diet, keeping food sources of estrogen to a minimum if you’re found to have estrogen dominance.
- Promote a healthy gut with foods like live, natural yogurt which provide ‘good’ bacteria.
- Exercise regularly, being careful to support your fitness routine with adequate nutrition.
- Try out new hairstyles to disguise your thinning hair whilst you recover your hormonal balance. You may also want to consider a hair piece or clip-in extensions if your hair loss is very bad, but these should be used with care in order to prevent traction alopecia. You may also like to try using rollers or a hair volumizer, to add lift to your locks, or instantly hide thin patches with a good hair loss concealer.
- Take extra care in looking after your hair. Use a gentle, nourishing shampoo (we love Bumble and Bumble Gentle Shampoo) to promote good condition and prevent breakage. Try using a silk or satin pillowcase. Avoid harsh styling products and techniques that apply heat to the hair (blow drying, curling irons etc) as these can cause more damage to fragile hair.
- Try to include ‘hair friendly’ foods in your diet, such as Omega 3 rich salmon and walnuts; beat-carotene rich sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin and spinach (yes, dark green veggies are a good source of beta-carotene too); and foods like eggs (rich in biotin, B6, B12, selenium, zinc and copper), lentils (which are loaded with hair-healthy vitamins and minerals), chicken or turkey (which contain lots of protein, B vitamins and minerals), plus vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables like blueberries, kiwi, strawberries and tomatoes.
We hope that you’ve found this information about estrogen and hair loss helpful – and that it’s helped you more accurately pinpoint what’s causing any problems you may be experiencing, in order to take that first step towards recovery!
My hair has been getting thinner and thinner over the last few years since just before I had my hysterectomy.
My mother has wonderful thick hair so I don’t think it’s genetic.
I have been taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for several years (Premarin tablets) and now for the last 4 months tibilone, and it is still getting thinner.
Could HRT be the cause of the thinning?
Thinning hair together with increased wrinkling and loss of skin tone is a common and normal feature for many women at the time of the menopause.
Recent research has scientifically corroborated the popular idea that women taking HRT actually look younger when taking HRT because of the very effect that HRT has in improving the skin and hair at this time.
The vast majority of menopausal women therefore find that the condition of their hair significantly improves when they take HRT rather than the other way around.
There are, however, a few women who have reported hair loss whilst taking HRT although these would be a very small minority.
It is interesting that you have been switched from Premarin to Livial (tibilone) because whilst the latter is a reasonable alternative to normal HRT and does not lead to a return to monthly periods, it does not contain oestrogen as such, and may therefore be less likely to improve the condition of your hair.
Skin irritation is listed as a possible side effect of tibilone and therefore perhaps you should review this prescription with your own doctor.
On a cosmetic note, having a semi-permanent colour will add shine and vitality and give a healthier looking frame to the face. A shorter hair cut makes it look healthier and thicker.
Deeper richer colours will give hair the appearance of being thicker, so try to avoid blondes as they can make hair look thinner. Pump up the volume in flat hair by using self-grip rollers.
Comb conditioner through your hair whilst it is wet and before you rinse.
This way you will detangle the hair with the least amount of stress to the hair shaft and so avoid any unnecessary further hair loss.
The NetDoctor Medical Team
Last updated 13.03.2014
Menopause Taboos: Thinning Hair, Painful Sex, and What You Can Do to Stop Them
September is Menopause Awareness Month, and Healthline sat down with two physicians to bring painful sex and thinning hair — two “forbidden” topics — into the spotlight.
Dr. Donnica Moore, an OB/GYN in Chester, New Jersey, told Healthline that vulva vaginal atrophy (VVA) is one of the most common yet least talked about symptoms of menopause.
“VVA is a condition that occurs over time, and about 50 percent of menopausal women will have significant discomfort as a result of VVA. The most common form of discomfort is dyspareunia, which is painful sex,” explained Moore.
Get More Tips About Living a Healthy Lifestyle During Menopause “
“Vaginal dryness is a result of VVA,” Moore added. “This is the thinning and aging of the vaginal tissue as a result of changes due to menopause. Those changes are the decreased production of estrogen. Almost every tissue in a woman’s body responds to estrogen. When we go through menopause, the big news is we are not having periods anymore, but the reason is because we are not producing estrogen from our ovaries.”
Liberated Women of the 60s and 70s Don’t Speak Up
Moore said women are embarrassed to mention to their doctors that sex is painful, in part, because they think they are the only ones experiencing this symptom. According to Moore, of the 65 million women in the United States who are now going through menopause, about half, or 32.5 million, are experiencing painful sex.
“We know that only about 24 percent of those women even talk to their doctor and get properly diagnosed. Of those women, only about 7 percent are being offered medical treatment. So there are an awful lot of women who have this condition, who haven’t had the conversation with their doctor, and have not received proper therapy,” said Moore.
Pictured left to right at a “Women Take Charge” event: Shionogi COO Deanne Melloy, Dr. Margaret Nachtigall, Ali Wentworth, Dr. Donnica Moore, Dr. Shannon Chavez. Photo courtesy of Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.
Women are mum on the subject with their friends, and even their sexual partners. “We have a don’t ask, don’t tell situation … The irony is, baby boomer women are going through menopause at a rate of about 5,000 per day in the United States and Canada. This is the generation of women who came of age in the 1960s and talked about everything. This is the group of women who ushered in the sexual revolution, and now many of these same women are among the millions of women who are experiencing painful sex due to menopause, and nobody is talking about it,” said Moore.
Although many women use lubricants to alleviate painful sex, Moore says lubricants “do not treat the cause. The cells of the lining of the walls of the vagina age like the cells on your face. The mucosal cells, the cells lining your vagina, go through very similar changes. A lubricant is like what a lotion would do on your face. A lotion is a very temporary solution, but it doesn’t sink into the deeper layers of your skin like certain moisturizers … It doesn’t do anything to the cellular structure.”
New Pill Treats VVA Without Raising Breast Cancer Risk
Ospemifene (Osphena), a non-hormonal oral medication manufactured by Shionogi, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013 to treat VVA.
Moore said Osphena’s packaging warns that the drug may increase the risk for cancer of the lining of the uterus, called endometrial cancer. Other side effects include increased risk of stroke, blood clots, hot flashes, muscle spasms, vaginal discharge, and increased sweating.
“Those things are also side effects of menopause,” Moore said. “Women have to talk to their doctor about what is right for them. That’s the same situation with estrogen or any other prescription medication. With a prescription medication we always weigh the risks and the benefits.”
Moore said Osphena or supplemental estrogen can actually make the cells of the vagina healthier and more robust.
“I want to be very careful not to imply this can restore you to where you were when you were 25,” Moore cautioned, “but it can help improve the functioning of your vaginal mucosa. Osphena and estrogen act the same way in that regard. Osphena acts like an estrogen in some tissues of the body, and not like an estrogen in other tissues of the body.”
Estrogens, a category of medicine that includes patches, cremes, and gels, can treat the underlying cause of VVA. However, there is concern about giving women supplemental estrogen because it has been linked to the growth of certain cancers.
“The cancer most women are most concerned about is breast cancer … Anything that can possibly increase the risk of breast cancer, even slightly, is going to make women very appropriately nervous, and that is why most women won’t take estrogen. That is probably the biggest difference between estrogen and Osphena. Osphena is not an estrogen, it is not the hormone, and it does not increase the risk of breast cancer,” said Moore.
Read More: Alternative Treatments for Menopause “
Shionogi has developed a campaign, dubbed “Women Take Charge,” to raise awareness of women’s sexual health.
Moore, who supports Shionogi in raising awareness, said, “We are challenging women to take the pledge to talk to their friends about painful intercourse. When I talk to my own friends about it, it opens up the floodgates of comments. Many of my friends are physicians, others are not physicians but are well-educated, and some have said, ‘I thought this was how it was supposed to be’ … When you are having painful sex, your natural inclination is to say, maybe I don’t want to have sex that often,” said Moore.
Comedian Ali Wentworth told Healthline she has not experienced menopause yet. But when she read about painful sex as a symptom of menopause in a magazine, she decided to support Shionogi and spread the word that “we should have the conversation about it. There’s no reason people should be shy. I don’t like the idea that when I go through menopause, sex will be painful. I don’t want to feel like I’ve expired sexually.
“A lot of my friends are going through menopause. It seems so hush, about how you can get answers,” Wentworth said. “It’s something women should be talking about. Some women are embarrassed and don’t want to discuss it with their doctor. You should talk to your doctor about it.”
Testosterone Levels Naturally Vary Throughout a Person’s Life. See Where You Fall “
Why Do Women Lose Hair During Menopause?
Thinning hair and hair loss is another taboo subject for many menopausal women.
Dr. Alan J. Bauman, a board certified physician who specializes in hair restoration at his practice in Boca Raton, Florida, told Healthline that about 100 million women in the United States have thinning hair.
“Most women who come in to seek treatment for hair thinning do so around the time of perimenopause and menopause. The vast majority of hair loss is genetic; it’s female pattern hair loss,” he said.
Hair loss occurs gradually, but most women don’t notice it until it reaches a certain point, meaning that they lose coverage in a particular area, or that their hairline has changed dramatically. When women do notice, it seems like their hair has thinned overnight.
“You can lose 50 percent of your hair volume in a particular area before it starts looking noticeably thin,” said Bauman.
There are very specific hormones regulating hair follicle growth cycles. When women are pregnant, more of the hair follicles are in a growing phase than normal. Women’s hair grows thicker and more lustrous. After childbirth, their hormones return to normal, and the hair follicles shift back into a resting phase. Six to 12 weeks after they give birth they experience hair shedding.
Menopause hair loss happens more slowly, Bauman explained. “It’s not a huge shift where you see a massive shed,” he said. “In menopause it’s a gradual decrease in either the ratio of hormones or the amount of hormones in the body. We are talking about estrogen and progesterone and the ratios versus testosterone. When those levels change or diminish, that’s when the hair quality changes and diminishes as well.”
A patient at Dr. Bauman’s clinic before and after treatment for hair loss. Photo courtesy of Bauman Medical Group.
Bauman said hair loss may include changes in the hair line, part line, and less coverage of the scalp in these areas. “Sometimes women are already modifying the color, curl, and hairstyle to accommodate those changes. It can be very stressful and very devastating to their self-confidence and sense of well-being,” Bauman said. “Very often, the vast majority of patients don’t really have issues with their blood work, and don’t really have medical problems. Hair loss is a heredity thing that happens at a particular age, and usually with menopause you’ll see it happening the most.”
A Hair Transplant Patient Tells Her Story
For early stage hair loss, noninvasive treatments include platelet rich plasma (PRP), topical minoxidil (Formula 82M), and low-level laser light therapy. “Laser is painless, the least expensive treatment over time, and it can be done at home.” said Bauman.
Hair grows by about half an inch a month, and changes can be measured in 90 days. “We measure the different areas of the scalp to see which areas are responding. If they are not responding, we can modify the treatment regimen to accommodate for that,” said Bauman.
However, “If you have a density problem, meaning the numbers of hairs have been depleted, we need to do some degree of transplantation,” he added.
Andrea W., one of Dr. Bauman’s patients, was willing to share her story about receiving a hair transplant, but asked that her last name not be published.
Learn More: Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for Me? “
Andrea told Healthline, “My hair was thinning in the front, and it had me feeling like I had to keep finding a new hair style to camouflage it. I knew it was going to get worse. I had a hair transplant. It was one session that lasted a good full day.
“Overall, my entire head of hair has strengthened and thickened, and I am very happy. I was past menopause. My hair was thinning over time. I didn’t feel good,” she said. “Now I can wear my hair any way I want. It looks fantastic. Nothing is as comfortable as natural teeth and natural hair.”
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.
Can Hair Loss Due to Hormone Imbalance be Reversed?
Androgenic alopecia and other forms of hair loss are caused by genetic factors, but not every type of baldness is caused by a person’s DNA. Irregular hormone levels cause hair follicles to stop growing and fall out, and often, these hormone imbalances are treated with prescription medication. However, changes to your daily routine, like more sleep, dietary adjustments, and more frequent exercise can have a positive impact on your body’s hormone balance.
Men and women are both susceptible to losing hair when hormones levels are not right, and the good news is these conditions are usually reversible. Simple blood-tests are used to identify current levels of hormones throughout the body, and doctors are then able to determine which hormones are out of balance. Some of the most likely hormones to become imbalanced and cause premature hair loss are:
- Estrogen and Progesterone – Women naturally produce high levels of these two hormones, but when there is an imbalance, the hair’s growth cycle is disrupted. Women who are experiencing menopause or pregnancy may also see thinning hair on their crown if these two hormones are not balanced with one another.
- Testosterone – Testosterone is responsible for muscle growth in men and women, but too much of this hormone creates problems for the hair. When testosterone gets converted to dihydrotestosterone, also known as DHT, it attacks the root of the hair follicle, causing it to shrink. Over time, the hair shaft becomes thin and wispy, until eventually there is no more hair growth.
- Resistance to Insulin – Insulin is regularly released by the pancreas after glucose levels in the bloodstream increase after eating or drinking. If your body can’t regulate insulin properly, it creates problems for the entire body, including your hair. People who develop insulin resistance are more likely to experience pattern baldness.
Have questions about hair loss? Hairline Ink has the answers. If you or someone you know is suffering from hair loss, contact our team of experts to learn how scalp micropigmentation defy hair loss and reinvent the way you feel. Call us today at (585)-250-0835 to schedule a free consultation, learn about our pricing, or to get a free quote!
The ZRT Laboratory Blog
A symbol of femininity for so many women, our hair demands attention. Both deeply personal and superficially public, changes in the looks of our hair can inspire a range of emotions, driving us to willingly partake in its cutting, straightening, curling, bleaching, darkening, or other aggressive chemical treatments. Hair is part of who we are and how we present ourselves to the world. This is why thinning hair is kind of a big deal – it can be a very frustrating topic for many women as there is no quick solution to getting more hair instantly.
Losing hair is utterly dreaded and distressing, and unfortunately something we all eventually come to face as we get older. As hair thins over the years and the shower drain clogs almost on a daily basis, the scalp becomes so vivid when hair is a dash too oily, and now the hair part has been moved over to a different spot, thereby concealing the thinned out patches next to the temples – you find yourself on the internet in search of answers, bombarded with innumerable articles offering anywhere between 3 and 33+ helpful tips on how to get your luscious mane back. Some are obvious – eat right and exercise to provide nutrients and stimulate blood flow, while others are less straightforward like sleeping on a silk pillowcase or wrapping your hair in a T-shirt. Whatever the suggestions may be, achieving strong and healthy hair extends way beyond keeping your locks away from heat and dyes.
Ironically the phrase “beauty is only skin deep” is not entirely appropriate in conversations about hair. Thinning, dry hair is actually a symptom of internal changes in the body. Perhaps viewed by some as a normal, inevitable sign of aging or response to stress, losing hair is oftentimes related to endocrine imbalances. This blog is going to review the role that hormones play in hair health.
Hair Follicles Cycle Between Rest and Growth
Before we jump into endocrine logistics, let’s review some anatomical considerations. Hair changes can occur due to alterations of the hair fiber itself, the hair cycle, and/or the hair follicle – the portion of hair beneath the surface of the skin. This human hair follicle is an intriguing structure! Hair follicles are incredibly productive, constantly undergoing cyclical rounds of rest (telogen), regeneration (anagen) and degeneration (catagen), and they are unique in this ability to dynamically alternate between rest and active growth.
The Stress – Tress Connection
We all know that stress is bad for you, including your hair. Bluntly speaking, stress makes your hair fall out. This is largely because stress puts you in survival mode, diverting resources away from good skin blood flow, adequate digestion, sleep, growth, etc. so the energy can be used instead for fight or flight. And let’s be honest, your body doesn’t regard hair as being essential to your survival.
Stress molecules like cortisol can target and damage the hair follicle . You don’t even have to wait till menopause for stress-induced pony tail circumference shrinkage – many women in their 20s and 30s start losing hair due to stress-related issues .
Symptoms of sudden bouts of hair shedding with little to no hair growth are suggestive of telogen effluvium – a condition where hair in the anagen (growing) phase prematurely enters the telogen (resting) phase (Fig. 1) . Furthermore, stress resulting from the hair loss itself (which for many people carries a significant psychological burden) aggravates and perpetuates the vicious cause-and-effect cycle that is doomed to keep repeating itself like “Groundhog Day”.
So take a moment to assess your stress burden and try to incorporate stress-reduction strategies in your daily life. For laboratory measures, diurnal cortisol testing in saliva or urine can help understand underlying biochemistry.
Sex Hormones – Not Just for Reproduction
PREGNANCY: Remember all that hair that you didn’t lose when you were pregnant? I loved my luxurious pregnancy hair – so strong, thick and shiny. It wasn’t me who had the “pregnancy glow”, it was my hair! Pregnancy increases the number of hair follicles in the anagen (translation: massive growth) phase. The enhanced supply of estradiol and progesterone in pregnancy are particularly nurturing to hair, expanding the growth phase and preventing shedding. Little did I know that at about 3 months postpartum, when my hormones were trying to re-equilibrate themselves and adjust to a “new normal”, my hair would all come out in clumps, washing down the drain, falling out so fast it was a seeming miracle any of it actually remained attached to my head.
Hair changes in pregnancy are common; however, every woman is different and therefore hair changes are all individual. If hair loss is experienced in the postpartum period, most women will experience a full recovery, although the process may be slow.
MENOPAUSE: Along those lines, when the levels of estradiol and progesterone fall in menopause, hot flashes and night sweats are not the only symptoms that seemingly appear out of nowhere. What many women are unaware of and unprepared for is the fact that they may also find themselves facing hair thinning. And just like the postpartum hair loss, it has everything to do with hormones. However, unlike the postpartum period, hair loss in menopause is irreversible, unless hormone replacement therapy is introduced.
Estrogen increases the amount of time that hair spends in the growing phase, so when estrogen declines, hair loses these protective effects.
Estrogen increases the amount of time that hair spends in the growing phase, so when estrogen declines, hair (and skin, brain, heart, bones and many other tissues!) loses these protective effects. Additionally, androgenic effects of testosterone can also be intensified – where testosterone’s metabolite dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can produce progressively weaker hair due to the follicle’s failure to thrive . When menopausal symptoms are present, a simple-to-collect saliva test can assess the levels of estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, and help both patient and practitioner decide on the best therapeutic strategy.
PCOS: This is a common female endocrine disorder based on a cluster of symptoms, with hyperandrogenism taking center stage . In PCOS, the “Alice in Wonderland” equivalent reality of elevated androgens, women lose scalp hair, while simultaneously growing hair in places where men usually get it and where women certainly don’t want it – face, chest and back. Although there is no cure for PCOS, treatment is usually focused on managing symptoms. A laboratory workup is typically performed for saliva steroids and blood levels of HbA1c and fasting insulin.
Ferritin – Not That Kind of Store
If you think of iron as the merchandise in the front of the store, ferritin is the storage warehouse in the back. Serum ferritin is a powerful screening tool for iron deficiency. Low serum ferritin gives rise to a condition called anemia.
For those of us who’ve been anemic at one point or another (thanks, heavy periods), we are all too familiar with the symptoms of being really tired and pale. While hair loss is not the most common symptom of iron-deficiency anemia, it does affect approximately half of those with low ferritin stores . Hair follicles actually hang on to ferritin. When the body is low in iron, it can pull ferritin from places like hair follicles, deemed not as important as, let’s say, red blood cell production. The resulting effect is diffuse hair loss.
If hair loss is related to insufficient iron in the body, correcting anemia should allow for hair to grow back. But first, screening for low serum ferritin levels is very important, because supplementing with iron when iron levels are normal or high can result in iron overload and toxicity .
Thyroid hormone regulates pretty much every process in our body. When the thyroid system becomes underactive, like with hypothyroidism for example, our metabolism slows down, and the lesser important body functions get less attention. Sadly, hair (and skin) typically suffer first . In hypothyroidism, hair tends to be dry, brittle, dull, and diffusely thinned out – even eyebrow hair can fall out ! When the reverse is true and there’s too much thyroid hormone (Graves’ disease), hair will also fall out.
Accompanying symptoms of thyroid disease are noticeably in energy levels and mood. Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel tired, sluggish, depressed, and constipated. Hyperthyroidism can manifest in anxiety, problems sleeping, restlessness, and irritability. If symptoms are present, check your thyroid levels and talk to your doctor about thyroid hormone therapy. In most cases, hair grows back once thyroid abnormalities are treated.
Vitamin D – the “Sunshine” Vitamin and so Much More!
Vitamin D is an important nutrient that is essential to our immunity, bone health and many other processes. With regard to hair, it actually helps create new hair follicles by initiating the anagen phase. It does so by regulating the expression of genes that are required for hair follicle cycling. A number of symptoms, such as hair loss, can occur when the body lacks enough vitamin D. It’s not surprising then when researchers found suboptimal serum vitamin D levels in women with telogen effluvium or female pattern hair loss . Moreover, patients with alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition which gives rise to hair loss, also have low serum vitamin D levels . Emerging clinical research is putting forward recommendations to evaluate serum vitamin D levels in patients with hair loss .
Most people can get the bulk of their vitamin D through sunlight exposure or through diet. Some foods are naturally rich in this nutrient, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), mushrooms, or foods fortified with vitamin D (certain cereals and milk). Vegan or vegetarian diets tend to provide less vitamin D, so supplements may be needed. Additionally, finding a balance between protecting skin from sun exposure and absorbing the vitamin may be essential to achieving optimal vitamin D levels.
Vitamin B12 – the “Energy Vitamin”
To keep hair follicles active, you need healthy blood flow – the oxygen-rich red blood cells feed the hair follicles. Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, does exactly that – it promotes healthy hair growth by assisting in the production of these red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 is nicknamed “the energy vitamin”, and it makes sense that its deficiency can manifest as weakness and fatigue – symptoms that appear to overlap with other types of deficiencies described in this blog. If you’re worried you may be deficient, a serum vitamin B12 test can rule out abnormalities. B12 deficiency is usually more prominent in folks with digestive issues (low stomach acid, gastritis, or celiac disease), in older adults, vegans, vegetarians, and with excessive alcohol intake. Vitamin B12 is found in animal-sourced foods such as meat and dairy, and in some fermented veggies. Plants don’t make vitamin B12, but during the fermentation process, certain types of bacteria can supply some of this nutrient.
Clinical Evaluation – Talk to Your Doctor!
A laboratory workup for hair loss is commonly performed. Additional questions that you may be asked to help narrow down differential diagnosis are :
- When did the hair loss start? A sudden onset of hair loss may be suggestive of a disruption of the hair cycle.
- Where is the hair loss most prominent? Hair loss can be patchy, diffuse or patterned. Diffuse shedding may indicate disruption of the hair cycle, while patterned thinning could be attributed to hormonal dysregulation.
- What is the normal hair care routine? Certain hair care practices can have a tremendous impact on the loss of hair health.
With proper evaluation and appropriate testing for hormonal imbalances or nutritional deficiencies, help is on the way!
- Blog: Thyroid Balance – Your Key to Brain & Body Harmony
- Blog: Mood and Menopause – Going Through “the Change”
- Blog: Hyperinsulinemia vs Hyperglycemia – the Story of PCOS & Obesity
Dinh, Q.Q. and R. Sinclair, Female pattern hair loss: current treatment concepts. Clin Interv Aging, 2007. 2(2): p. 189-99.
Thom, E., Stress and the Hair Growth Cycle: Cortisol-Induced Hair Growth Disruption. J Drugs Dermatol, 2016. 15(8): p. 1001-4.
Gersh, F., PCOS SOS. A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones, and Happiness. 2018: Integrative Medical Group of Irvine.
van Beek, N., et al., Thyroid hormones directly alter human hair follicle functions: anagen prolongation and stimulation of both hair matrix keratinocyte proliferation and hair pigmentation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2008. 93(11): p. 4381-8.
Banihashemi, M., et al., Serum Vitamin D3 Level in Patients with Female Pattern Hair Loss. Int J Trichology, 2016. 8(3): p. 116-20.
Mirmirani, P., Managing hair loss in midlife women. Maturitas, 2013. 74(2): p. 119-22.
Estrogen is a natural and necessary hormone, but too much estrogen – for both men and women – can cause hair loss. Too much estrogen can cause hair loss and thinning hair. Many times, an increase in estrogen is caused by perimenopause, ingesting or touching endocrine disruptor items and gaining weight. Estrogen affects the hormones, which in turn affect the ability for your hair to grow. You will find that with estrogen dominance, your hair does not grow in strong and healthy. You will also find that the hair that you do have is prone to thinning and starts falling out.
When people have too much estrogen, they may also find that they have other health symptoms such as weight gain, tiredness and depression. Estrogen is metabolized by the body, which should take care of excess estrogen. The problem comes when too much estrogen is created by the body and the metabolizing process cannot keep up. However, when people have too little estrogen, they find that they experience hair loss and hair thinning as well. You may even see patches of hair loss on your head or experience excess hair shedding, particularly when you take a shower or brush your hair.
To test for estrogen dominance and diminished estrogen levels, an estrogen test can be taken at your local doctor’s office. Most tests are taken through a blood test but a urine sample can also be tested for the estrogen level. The best thing to do to help with hair loss caused by estrogen is to fix the estrogen imbalance and stop the hair loss and hair thinning.
The next step to fixing your hair involves addressing other potential causes of unhealthy hair. Losing weight to arrive at a healthy weight and eating more nutritious foods can make a big difference in the quality of your hair. Choosing quality hair care products is also really important when it comes to improving the quality of your hair. You want to make sure that the products you are using are not contributing to your hair loss and are helping to keep your existing hair as healthy as possible.
There’s no doubt that estrogen and hair loss are connected, but there are certain factors that determine how much of an effect estrogen levels have on your hair. As one of the main visible measures of your health, hair growth is often one of the first areas affected when hormones are off-balance. Let’s take a look at the links between estrogen hormonal imbalance and hair loss.
Estrogen describes a number of female sex hormones primarily made in the ovaries. Estrogen responsible for your female physical traits and characteristics, having the opposite role of the male hormone testosterone. Although men do have some estrogen and women have some testosterone, for the most part, the primary hormone’s levels block out the effects of the opposite sex hormones.
In women, estrogen has a few key roles in the body, including:
- Regulating your menstrual cycle
- Reducing muscle mass
- Promoting hair growth on your head
- Controlling height
- Reducing body hair
- Preventing depression
Estrogen is extremely important to our physical and emotional well-being.
How Estrogen and Hair Loss Are Connected
Estrogen slows your hair’s growing stage, also known as the anagen phase, of the hair growth cycle. This means that your hair could be in the growing stage at any time, a big reason why women generally have more hair than men.
Remember that high estrogen levels override the effects of testosterone. This means that it can help prevent the hair loss that is naturally associated with the male hormone. In fact, studies show that estrogen can even stimulate new hair growth.
Estrogen’s effect on hair loss is most evident during pregnancy. Higher concentrations of estrogen give women thicker, healthier hair than normal during pregnancy and when women are breastfeeding.
While pregnancy encourages hair growth due to higher estrogen levels, lower estrogen levels can have the opposite effect.
Low estrogen levels are most common during menopause, but it can happen to women at any age. As estrogen levels decline, the greater influence of testosterone shortens the growth phase, and the subsequent hair loss is usually gradual but can become noticeable over time. Hair loss caused by changing estrogen levels tends to be visible all over the scalp or evident in a widening part, rather than missing patches of hair or a horseshoe pattern as with male pattern baldness.
It’s common for women to experience shedding hair after pregnancy. Usually, this is in response to estrogen levels returning to normal, shedding the extra hair grown during pregnancy. Usually, the hair will return to the same thickness it was before you got pregnant. New moms who are not breastfeeding should consider taking hair growth vitamins post-pregnancy too to balance out their hair growth cycle.
Estrogen is a powerful hormone in a woman’s body, and an excess amount may lead to estrogen dominance. And women may have too much estrogen in relation to progesterone as a result of perimenopause hormone fluctuations or if they are obese.
Your body normally breaks down estrogen and uses it before it can build up to high levels. But when our bodies produce too much estrogen while having too little progesterone, and we aren’t able to metabolize it quickly enough, the imbalance can lead to problems like depression, fatigue or hair loss.
Solutions for Estrogen Hair Loss
There are a variety of natural and medicated solutions to combat hair loss caused by estrogen. If you think you’re losing hair due to a hormonal imbalance, first have your levels tested to find out if you have too little or too much estrogen.
If you have a case of estrogen dominance, you can help bring your levels down to normal by keeping your gut healthy and avoiding refined carbohydrates like white bread and white rice. Also, avoid eating any meat that has been treated with hormones. If you have low levels of estrogen, solutions include minimizing your stress, practicing a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
Whether you’re experiencing low or high estrogen levels, it would be wise to tackle the problem as soon as you notice it. With normalizing hormone levels and your doctor’s advice, your hair growth can return to normal in no time.