Hair loss birth control

You already know that birth control offers ridiculously reliable protection against unplanned pregnancies—assuming you’re using it correctly, that is. But BC actually has a lot of other amazing social and lifestyle benefits, too. Researchers at the family planning organization the Guttmacher Institute recently crunched the numbers, finding that women who regularly use contraception tend to have more years of education under their belt and greater economic stability—and they also form romantic partnerships that are more solid when compared to women who aren’t contraception-covered. The best part is, these aren’t the only perks. Check out some of little-known health benefits of birth control, particularly the hormonal kind.

It can treat endometriosis
Having endometriosis means that uterine tissue migrates out of your uterus and attaches itself it your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and/or other parts of the pelvic cavity. Depending on the severity and location of these tissue buildups, they can impede ovulation or fertilization, says Proudfit. It can also hurt like crazy, to the point of vomiting and debilitation. Going on the pill, however, reduces monthly uterine buildup and shedding, slowing or stopping the migration and growth of uterine tissue to other parts of your reproductive tract. This means that women who suffer from endometriosis can wait longer before trying to get pregnant, because the damage to their reproductive system is minimized. Plus—no more devastating pain.

It can help with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Women with PCOS have a hormone imbalance that leads to erratic or skipped periods, excess facial hair, obesity, ovarian cysts, infertility troubles, and other side effects. The hormone combo in the Pill rights this imbalance, so your flow comes regularly and side effects subside.

It can ease killer cramps
That monthly pain that keeps you tied to the couch with a heating pad pressed to your abs is caused by chemicals called prostaglandins, which trigger muscle contractions. When you get your flow, your body cranks up prostaglandin production to help shed the uterine lining. Going on oral contraceptives, however, reduces the amount of prostaglandins your body pumps out, so you experience less discomfort. Ob-gyns have prescribed the Pill off-label for years to treat women with debilitating cramps, and a 30-year study published in 2012 study in the journal Human Reproduction bears this out.

It smooths out your skin
Combination contraception lowers your body’s levels of testosterone, which all women make in small amounts. That spells good news for your skin since the hormone is the culprit behind certain acne breakouts and excess body hair growth, says Proudfit.

It shields you from anemia
Women who suffer from heavy periods lose excess blood every month, and that can lead to anemia—a condition characterized by fatigue and weakness. Going on hormonal birth control makes periods shorter and lighter, so you lose less blood and aren’t robbed of your stamina, says Proudfit.

It offers some protection against Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a serious infection of the upper reproductive tract that, if left untreated, can compromise your fertility. The progestin in hormonal birth control makes cervical mucus thicker, says Proudfit, and research suggests that this forms a roadblock that makes it harder for PID-causing microbes (from bacterial STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, for example) to enter your cervix. Keep in mind, though, that the only form of birth control that can protect against STDs is condoms. So unless you’re monogamous and are totally sure your partner is STD-free, condoms are a must, even if you’re taking hormonal birth control.

It can cut your odds of some cancers
Women who go on the pill, ring, or other combined estrogen-progestin methods for 15 years slash their lifetime risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers by approximately 50 percent, according to a 2010 study. The thinking here is that hormonal BC blocks ovulation and evens out natural hormone imbalances, leading to less exposure to potentially damaging hormones, says Christine Proudfit, MD, an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. One caveat: Some research suggests that taking oral contraceptives may slightly increase your risk of breast and cervical cancer, so you’ll want to talk to your doctor about whether hormonal birth control is right for you if you have a family history of either disease.

photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Contents

6 Surprising Ways to Grow Your Hair Faster

Other than diamonds, one thing that most women crave for is long and beautiful hair. Studies reveal that healthy long tresses can boast up a woman’s confidence to a great extent. Our hair makes us look healthy and enhances our overall personality. Exactly like our skin, our hair also indicates our physical and psychological state. Many factors like overall diet, hormonal deficiencies, vitamin intake, overuse of chemicals etc affect our hair growth. Surprisingly, many daily habits that can help you grow your hair faster are often overlooked. Here is a list of few simple tips for healthy and long locks every day.

Image credit: Richard foster

Contraceptive pills

For years, many women have claimed that birth control pills lead to faster hair growth. Some studies have also supported this claim. While we do not recommend consuming these pills only to stimulate hair growth, you can always crush 5-6 pills and mix them in your regular shampoo. This will help to grow your hair faster and will considerably increase its volume.

Keep it trimmed

We are discussing how to grow your hair faster. Aren’t we? Then how can cutting your mane be of any help? Well, trimming your hair does not mean losing your entire hair length. About a quarter of an inch should be fine. It will help to remove split ends and ensure your hair is damage free. Ideally, you should get it trimmed every 6-8 weeks. Remember only healthy hair can grow faster. So, trim it to grow it!

Wash it properly

One of the most important factors that is often a hindrance to healthy and long tresses is improper washing which includes irregular cleaning or over-washing. Your washing routine depends on your hair type. Those who have dry hair should shampoo their locks not more than twice a week, while women with oily strands must wash it every alternate day. Also, use only lukewarm water to avoid damage.

Use of hair dryer

Blow dryer is an awesome way to make your hair look lifeless and coarse. Instead, dry your locks in a way that shows some care for it. The only method possible is to let nature dry it. In case you are required to use a blow dryer, keep it to the lowest.

Role of diet

Just like our overall health depends on what we eat, similarly, the health of our hair is directly linked to our diet. And healthy hair grows faster. Your nutrition diet must include eggs, cereals, raisins, dates, raw oats, and green vegetables. Veggies contribute much required iron and vitamin E. Moreover, as hair is primarily made of protein, it is advised to stick to a protein rich diet.

Vitamin supplements

Whether you want long tresses to impress your man or you simply had a bad haircut, multivitamin pill can help you grow your hair faster. It helps to supplement those bodily requirements that a healthy nutritious diet may skip.

Follow these simple but effective tips to bid a firm goodbye to your hair woes. While these methods will certainly help you grow your hair faster, we recommend to consult your medical practitioner before using contraceptive and multivitamin pills.

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Does Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?

Posted on August 8th, 2018

Does Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?

–Dr. Alan Bauman, MD, ABHRS, IAHRS, FISHRS

According to the CDC, more than 99% of sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 44 have used at least one form of birth control. For a little more than 25% of these women, oral contraceptive pill is their method of choice, with 10% using an IUD.

Similar to any medication, birth control can cause unwanted side effects. Many women complain that hair thinning, shedding, receding, as well as other hair loss symptoms and changes in hair quality occur while taking the pill. Others may notice increased hair loss when stopping the pill. For some, hair loss from birth control is a temporary side effect that is not concerning, for others it becomes the “trigger” that reveals an underlying, unwanted, distressing tendency toward thinning/shedding hair, receding hairlines/temples, and-or other hair loss issues that is known to run in the family.

More hair shed in the shower, brush or bedding, loss of hair volume, widening part-lines, receding hairlines, hair breakage, oily/dull/dry/limp/frizzy hair, and-or more scalp shining through the frontal or crown areas are all common hair loss symptoms that can be caused or exacerbated by changes in hormones related to birth control.

At Bauman Medical, each year we see a large number of women seeking evaluation and treatment who are concerned about birth control related hair loss.

If you think your hair loss symptoms might a side effect related to starting or stopping birth control, learn more about your hair loss risks and what can be done about birth control-related hair loss. Birth control pills alter your body’s natural hormone levels and this can become a problem for hair growth in patients who are sensitive to changes in hormones. The use of birth control, stopping birth control, giving birth, peri-menopause, menopause and having a hysterectomy are all associated with changes in hormone levels that may trigger or exacerbate hair loss, shedding and hair thinning in women as well as other hair quality changes.

How Do Birth Control Pills Work?

Birth control pills typically contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. Birth control pills block the surge in estrogen that normally causes an egg to be released from the ovary, thicken the mucus around the cervix—making it harder for sperm to swim up to the egg, and also thin the lining of the uterus preventing an fertilized egg from implanting.

Other forms of birth control such as patches, implants, shots and vaginal rings also release hormones to stop ovulation and prevent pregnancy which can also cause changes in hair quality as well as hair thinning and hair loss.

What Are Common Side Effects of Birth Control?

For many women, birth control pills don’t cause any side effects. Some women experience mild side effects in addition to or other than hair loss such as acne, weight gain/weight loss, irregular periods, spotting between periods, nausea, moodiness, decreased sex drive, headaches, breast tenderness or soreness, etc. Serious side effects can include high blood pressure, slightly increased risk of breast, cervical or liver cancer, as well as an increased risk of blood clots in your leg or lung. Birth control pills that have a higher androgenic and lower estrogen effect are more likely to cause hair loss, unwanted hair growth and acne side effects. Progestin with higher androgenic effects tend to produce less breast tenderness, bloating and mood changes.

What Women Are At-Risk for Birth Control-Related hair loss?

Many women are sensitive to the hormones contained in the pill and-or have a strong family history of hormone-related hair loss. Other factors such as poor diet, poor sleep, other medications, significant stress, illness, surgery, etc. can also affect hair follicle function. Hormonal changes and other risk factors can cause sudden hair loss as well as accelerate hereditary hair loss.

How Does Birth Control Cause Hair Loss and Changes in Hair Quality?

A normal, healthy hair follicle will cycle on and cycle off over time. During the growing phase (Anagen Phase), which lasts on average two to seven years, a hair fiber is produced. After this time the hair follicle degenerates (Catagen Phase) and rests for about three months (Telogen Phase) before starting to grow a new hair fiber. At some time between the resting and the growing phase, the “old” hair fiber is ejected from the follicle and is shed as the new fiber grows in. Because we normally have between 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles on our scalp, it is normal to see about 100-200 hairs shed per day.

Birth control or other sudden hormone shifts or imbalances can cause a large number of follicles to enter their resting phases too soon, causing an increase in daily shedding. This increase in shedding can lead to an acceleration of hereditary hair loss otherwise known as female pattern hair loss.

Hormonal birth control methods like hormone injections (Depo-Provera), patches (Ortho Evra), progestin implants (Norplant), vaginal rings (NuvaRing), IUDs as well as hormone replacement pellets have also been reported to cause and-or accelerate hair loss.

For many women, hair loss from starting or stopping birth control is the trigger that “reveals” an underlying tendency toward hair thinning that may run in the family. Hereditary hair loss may become noticeable at any age after puberty and typically gets worse with time without treatment.

Are there “better” birth control options that don’t have a strong hair loss risk?
When considering birth control, think about your family history and always consult with your physician. If there is a tendency toward hair loss or thinning hair in your family (either side), you may be running the risk of hair loss with birth control. If hair loss runs in the family look for birth control pills that contain more estrogenic effects than progestin, with a lower “androgenic index.” Androgens are considered “male hormones” but they are also naturally produced in women and are naturally present in higher amounts than estrogens. One of the main roles of androgens in women is to be converted into estrogens.

Each birth control pill has its own androgen-index which helps rank various birth control pills based on their their tendency to create androgen effects in a woman’s body. If you have a known sensitivity to androgens, high levels of androgens or have experienced androgen-related side effects such as acne, hirsutism (hair growth in inappropriate places) and-or hair loss/hair thinning, you should choose a pill with a low androgen index.

Every patient is different, and the choice of pill should be made with your healthcare provider.

High Vs. Low Androgen/Androgenic, Estrogen/Estrogenic, Progestin, etc. Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills that contain a high androgenic/low estrogenic pattern include: Alesse, Estrostep FE, Levlen, Loestrin 1.5/30, Loestrin 1/20 Fe, Ovral.

Birth control pills that contain a higher estrogen, higher progestin and lower androgen potency include: Demulen 1/50, Desogen, Ortho-Cept, Ovcon 50. Yasmin, Zovia 1/50E, Estrostep Fe.

Birth control pills that contain lower estrogen, higher progestin, higher androgen potency include: Demulen 1/35, Levlen, Levora, Loestrin 1.5/30, Loestrin 1/20 Fe, LoOvral, Nordette, Zovia 1/35E

Others: Brevicon, Mircette, Modicon, Necon, Otho-Cyclen, Ortho-TriCyclen, Yasmin.

How Can We Measure Hair Growth or Hair Loss Changes Due to Birth Control?

In addition to standardized medical photography and microscopic evaluation of the scalp, new scientific tools like the HairCheck device allows a quick, non-invasive way to quantify the amount of hair growing in several areas of the scalp—without having to trim your hair. The HairCheck cross-sectional hair bundle trichometer is used by hair loss experts worldwide and its backed by numerous clinical trials and years of use in clinical settings. HairCheck instantly measures the quantity and quality of hair in a given area of scalp—even more sensitive and more accurate than a pure density measurement. If you are concerned about shedding or other hair loss symptoms, the best way to measure your hair’s progress is a HairCheck measurement every three months. At Bauman Medical, we’ve performed over 40,000 HairCheck measurements for our patients to help diagnose and track their hair loss and hair regrowth.

What Can be Done to Treat Birth Control Related Hair Loss, Hair Shedding and Other Hair Quality Changes?

The good news is that in addition to adjusting your birth control regimen, there are many effective treatment options that can help protect and improve the functioning of your hair follicles. Keeping follicles in the “Anagen” or growth stage is the main goal of many medical treatments for hair loss. Sophisticated compounded prescription topical medications, like Formula 82M Minoxidil for example is more powerful and less greasy/gooey than common over-the-counter versions. Because it’s less irritating / less troublesome to use and it has such a powerful hair regrowth effect, this rogaine-alternative is the most popular prescription version of topical minoxidil in the U.S.!

Other treatments such as Low-Level Laser Light Therapy in the form of hands-free, portable, cap-type devices are FDA-cleared for hair growth and safety. These non-drug options when used appropriately and consistently can have a dramatic effect on hair growth and hair quality. Physician-strength devices such as CapillusRX-315 and LaserCap-224 are doctor-prescribed and dispensed laser therapy devices which have an excellent track-record of success.

One of the newest treatments is PRP or Platelet-Rich Plasma. Light-activated or Photo-activated PRP which involves the activation of high-concentrate PRP using a multi-wavelength device just prior to application of the PRP to the thinning areas of the scalp.

Nutritional interventions include the use of B-complex multivitamins, megadose Biotin or B-7 (SuperBiotin) as well as specialty nutraceuticals such as ViviscalPRO and-or Nutrafol which are available from Bauman Medical.

For a complete birth control hair loss evaluation, hair loss risk assessment including hair density measurements with HairCheck and HairCam devices, please contact Dr. Alan Bauman for an in-person consultation or start your online virtual consultation today.

If you or someone you know has hair loss or eyebrow or eyelash concerns, click to start either a long-distance phone consultation OR an in-person, in-office consultation with Dr. Bauman. You can also Ask Dr. Bauman a Question or simply call Bauman Medical Group toll-free 844-GET-HAIR or +1-561-394-0024.

*Each individual’s treatment and/or results may vary

Oral Contraceptives as a Hair Loss Treatment

Men aren’t the only ones who find more and more hair coming out on their comb or brush each day, or find thinning areas or bald patches on their scalps. Women can also experience hair loss, and struggle with finding an effective hair loss treatment to restore full, thick hair.

A condition called androgenetic alopecia is a common cause; you may also have heard it called female pattern baldness. Women have several choices for treatment, including minoxidil (Rogaine). But the most commonly prescribed hair loss treatment for androgenetic alopecia in women is actually oral contraceptives (in combination with another medication).

Hormone Replacement Therapy for Hair Loss

Hormones and Hair Loss

Hormones can affect nearly every process and part of the body — including your hair. Oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, contain hormones (either estrogen and progestin or just progestin). The pill prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation, or the monthly release of an egg.

But birth control pills also reduce the level of androgens, the male hormones normally present in very small amounts in women — which are related to hair loss. Abnormally high levels of androgen hormones in the body can cause androgenetic alopecia.

Birth control pills are often used in conjunction with another medication, spironolactone (Aldactone). Spironolactone is usually used to treat high blood pressure, but it also reduces androgen production — and helps to control hair loss.

Pros and Cons of Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills can protect women from unwanted pregnancy, while preventing androgenetic hair loss. But there are some possible side effects that birth control pills may cause in some women, including:

  • Increased risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack
  • Small increase in risk of some cancers, including breast cancer
  • Nausea
  • Acne
  • Sore breasts

Birth control pills may not be safe for every woman. Women who are older than age 35 and who smoke are more likely to develop blood clots and the more serious side effects of birth control pills, so they may not be good candidates for this hair loss treatment.

Which Pills Are Effective?

Not all birth control pills can serve as hair loss treatment. In fact, some can worsen the problem and actually cause hair loss. Birth control pills with a low “androgen index” are the only ones that should be used as hair loss treatment; high-androgen-index birth control pills may contribute to hair loss.

Pills with a low androgen index include:

  • Desogen
  • Ortho-Cept
  • Ortho-Cyclen
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen
  • Micronor

Pills with a high androgen index that may worsen hair loss and should be avoided include:

  • Loestrin
  • Ovral
  • Ovrette
  • Lo/Ovral
  • Nordette

All About Minoxidil for Women

Paying for Treatment

Many hair loss treatments are not covered by insurance, because they’re considered cosmetic. But if you are also taking birth control pills as your method of contraception, some insurance plans may cover all or a portion of the cost. You should check with your insurer to find out if your particular plan covers birth control pills, and if the reason for taking them affects your coverage.

If you have to pay for your oral contraceptives out of pocket, the cost can vary widely across all brands and generics. If you’re concerned about the cost of oral contraceptives to treat your hair loss, discuss the different types of birth control pills with your doctor to determine which one will be effective and won’t drain your bank account.

Since the “pill” was approved by the FDA in 1960, oral contraceptives have become one of the most popular forms of birth control used today.

Millions of women are prescribed the pill each year in this country, but very few are aware that oral contraceptives are a common trigger of hair loss for many who use them.

The “pill” suppresses ovulation by the combined actions of the hormones estrogen and progestin or in some cases progestin alone. Women who are predisposed to hormonal related hair loss or who are hypersensitive to the hormonal changes taking place in their bodies can experience hair loss to varying degrees while on the pill or more commonly, several weeks or months after stopping the pill.

The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that for the most part oral contraceptives are a safe and effective form of birth control. The AHLA also recognizes that the “pill” has been clinically proven to have other health benefits for some women who use them. However, with that said, the AHLA believes that it is imperative for all women especially for those who have a history of hair loss in their family to be made aware of the potentially devastating effects of birth control pills on normal hair growth.

The American Hair Loss Association recommends that all women interested in using oral contraceptives for the prevention of conception should only use low-androgen index birth control pills, and if there is a strong predisposition for genetic hair loss in your family we recommend the use of another non-hormonal form of birth control.

The following hormonal contraceptives have a significant potential of causing or exacerbating hair loss.

It is important to note that any medication or therapy that alters a woman’s hormones, including but not limited to, contraceptives, can trigger hair loss in anyone who takes them.

Progestin Implants

Implants, such as Norplant, are small rods implanted surgically beneath the skin, usually on the upper arm. The rods release a continuous dose of progestin to prevent ovulation.

Hormone Injections

Progestin injections, such as Depo-Provera, are given into the muscles of the upper arm or buttocks. This injection prevents ovulation.

Skin Patch

The skin patch (Ortho Evra) is placed on your shoulder, buttocks, or other location. It continually releases progestin and estrogen.

Vaginal Ring

The vaginal ring (NuvaRing) is a flexible ring about 2 inches in diameter that is inserted into the vagina. It releases progestin and estrogen.
Reviewed by Paul J. McAndrews, MD

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Can the hormones in your birth control lead to hair loss?

Image zoom SSPL / Getty Images

Birth control can offer so many beautiful, life changing effects. We bleed less and at a more regulated pace, selected hormones help balance us out, we can enjoy an intimate relationship without the fear of unplanned pregnancy; the list goes on. Also on the list: hair loss. It’s a tough pill to swallow, literally, if you’re prone to thinning hair already and plan to start taking contraceptives. The reasons behind some women’s hair loss when on BC are due to hormones; the kinds in your body to begin with and the kinds flooding your system each time you pop a teeny little pill. Thankfully, research has been done to keep your chances of losing locks low, low, low.

Get informed and keep those glossy tresses right where they belong: pouring from the top of your head like the most beautiful waterfall.

The very basic breakdown from Healthline is this:

“Birth control pills can cause hair loss in women who are especially sensitive to the hormones the pill contains or who have a family history of hormone-related hair loss.”

– Healthline

Great, but what does this mean for us as individuals and what can we do about it? 25% of sexually active women ages 15 to 44 rely on the pill, which works by stifling the amount of estrogen that causes an egg to be released while also thickening mucus around the cervix, making it harder for sperm to meet and fertilize an egg. If the latter does happen, there is less of a chance for it to latch and grow properly. Similar processes occur with use of a patch, implant, shot or vaginal ring, due to similarly dispensed hormones.

It’s a sensitivity to the synthetic versions of female hormones found in most common birth control methods that contribute to hair loss.

Anagen is the active phase of hair growth, during which your hair grows from your follicle until Catagen stage, where it slows and stops. Telogen comes after, during which hair growth comes to a stop and up to 100 hairs are shed naturally each day.

Birth control can disrupt this natural hair cycle in the form of something called telogen effluvium, which causes stages to occur too quickly. The hormones found in pills, patches, shots, etc can “cause the hair to move from the growing phase to the resting phase too soon,” resulting in uneven growth pattern and confused follicles.

According to Nicole Galan, RN, the most common birth control methods that bring on telogen effluvium are:

  • -hormone injections, such as Depo-Provera
  • -skin patches, such as Ortho Evra
  • -progestin implants, such as Norplant, and
  • -vaginal rings, such as NuvaRing.

Thankfully, this sort of hair loss is temporary, and like many BC side effects, should subside as your body adjusts and regulates. In cases where growth doesn’t correct itself naturally, patients can ask for Minoxidil 2%, which stimulates the growth phase of hair to occur more quickly.

So what can you do to avoid having to deal with hair loss? Try estrogen-high birth control methods instead. These can activate hair growth by keeping your hair in the Anagen phase longer, due to their being low on the androgen index.

Though no method of BC is totally side-effect free (that’s kind of the point of them, after all), some will definitely vibe with your specific body better than others. With so many different brands and options on the market, there is absolutely no reason to suffer through a condition like unwanted hair loss. You deserve the best, and the best is out there, waiting for you.

  • By Krista Jensen

Birth Control & Balding: Is it Real?

One of the last things you’d worry about when starting birth control is your hair. You might be concerned about weight gain or acne, but balding? Sure, the Pill and other hormonal birth control offer major benefits — like protecting against pregnancy and regulating menstrual cycles — but finding your hair clogging the shower drain could sound like too hefty a price to pay. So is balding while using birth control common?

As is the case with all prescription medications, the pill comes with a risk of side effects. And yes, one of those potential side effects is balding. Balding is generally considered a concern for men, but women and children can experience the condition too — it’s just not as common. Among the many causes of female balding are genetics, medical conditions, and medications that affect hormones, which is where birth control pills come in.

So, how common is this hair-raising side effect? According to the Guttmacher Institute, roughly 25 percent of women in the US choose oral birth control pills for contraception. Are one in four American women secretly battling birth control-related hair loss, or does this side effect only affect certain people? And if you’re one of the unlucky ones, what can be done? Read on to learn more about the connection between birth control and female balding, and what can be done about it.

The Link Between Birth Control and Hair Loss

Birth control pills most often use a combination of the female hormones estrogen and progestin to stop ovulation, which significantly lowers the risk of pregnancy. As hair loss expert Dr. Alan J. Baumanexplains, women who are sensitive to changes in female hormones are more likely to experience birth control-related hair loss or balding. Genetics may also be to blame. If hormone-related balding is a family trait, that increases the likelihood that a woman on the pill will experience balding.

How exactly does this hair loss occur? The hormones in oral contraceptives can interfere what the hair growth cycle. The hormones stop the growing cycle, leaving the follicles in a resting state. The resting phase is the hair-thinning phase. That’s why in some cases of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), oral contraceptives are used to stop excessive hair growth.

Not all women are alike when it comes to hormone-related female balding. The condition, technically called telogen effluvium, can happen at any time when taking birth control pills. Some notice thinning when they first start oral contraception, while others don’t see changes until after they’ve stopped. This temporary balding is typically minimal, but that might not be reassuring to a woman watching her once full and lustrous locks start to look stringy.

Types of Birth Control Pills that Won’t Make you Go Bald

When a connection is made between birth control and balding, the American Hair Loss Association suggests women use birth control pills that are low-androgen based, like desogestrel-ethinyl estradiol. If the balding becomes more severe or doesn’t improve after a few months, a non-hormonal contraceptive may be a better option.

A Time Frame for Hair Loss

The average hair growth cycle lasts about three months, which means women on the pill could experience a three-month delay before any signs of balding appear. If you notice your hair is thinning now, the cause can be traced to changes that occurred several months prior, when the growth of new hair follicles wasn’t fast enough to replace the rate of hair loss.

3 Tips for Thicker Looking Hair While on Birth Control

Fortunately, if you do experience hair loss while on birth control, you can achieve thicker-looking hair by following a few simple tips:

  • Nourish your hair. Eating the right foods can help maximize the results of the growth phase. Look for foods rich in nutrients that support hair health, such as healthy fats, green leafy vegetables, and lean proteins.
  • Turn up the volume. Changing up your hair care routine can drastically improve hair volume, so no one has to know your hair is thinning. Ask a hair stylist for advice on volumizing products and styling techniques that will work to make your specific hair type and style look more full.
  • Flip the part. The most effective way to improve the volume of your thinning hair is to flip your part. If you naturally part your hair to the right side, change things up and section to the left. As your hair tries to pull back to the right, you’ll see impressive volume.

Remember ladies, keep track of side effects, including irregular mood changes, bleeding, and hair loss, while taking birth control and discuss them with your doctor (if you use Nurx, just message our medical team any time with concerns). Some side effects could actually be symptoms of other conditions like endometriosis.

This blog pro­vides infor­ma­tion about telemed­i­cine, health and related sub­jects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be con­strued as a substitute for, med­ical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or per­son with a med­ical con­cern should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.

Worried about your health hair? We spoke to dermatologist Dr Sharon Wong, from the London Bridge Hospital and trichologist Anabel Kingsley, from the Philip Kingsley clinic to give us some insight…

Stress: TRUE

Dr Sharon Wong: “Stress definitely has an impact on health – in my dermatology clinic, I see clear relationships between health levels and skin and hair. Things like stress-induced acne, eczema, psoriasis and hair shedding are common. Generally, we lose hair in three ways – hair thinning with (and without) shedding, patchy hair loss or breakage. So if you’re experiencing hair loss, note the type of loss, in particular – stress-related hair loss is of a shedding type. Stress is one of the main causes of disturbing the hair follicle cycle and can affect the follicle’s cycle, shortening the anagen growth phase. Usually around three to four months after a stressful event, you’ll notice shedding, and improvements can take at least six months.”

Stress can affect the hair in a big way

Anabel Kingsley: “Because hair loss doesn’t occur straightaway, it’s often difficult to pinpoint what’s behind any apparent changes, but stress can affect the hair in a big way. Most importantly, it can affect how we eat – turning to the wrong foods, or skipping meals – which has a knock-on effect on hair health. It affects the balance of the gut too – an upset tummy can significantly affect nutrition absorption. Stress can also increase testosterone levels (depending on your genetic disposition) which can also cause noticeable changes in your hair. Ongoing stress can even result in your hair moving out of the growth phase altogether (‘Telogen Effluvium’).”

Overstyling: TRUE

Dr Sharon Wong: “This generally causes breakage and a difference in hair texture. Thermal injury and chemicals (like hair dyes containing ammonia, peroxides or relaxing treatments for Afro- Caribbean hair) can cause the cuticles to lift away from the hair surface, making hair appear dull, brittle, ragged and aged. It also exposes the core of the hair fibre to structural damage – making it break more easily. There is also traction alopecia – caused by tight hairstyles, or headscarves being tied to tight at the back, for example (even man-buns mean we see it in both sexes now) which typically causes hair thinning over the frontal hairline and temples. In the early phases, traction alopecia is reversible but if you leave it too long, it can cause scarring and permanent hair loss.

Anabel Kingsley: “Overstyling can easily cause breakage – often close to the root – which can look the same, but is entirely reversible. The only exception? Very tight hairstyles worn on daily basis, like braids or extensions which can cause traction alopecia. It’s not uncommon for ballerinas – who have their hair tied up in a tight bun all day, every day – to experience this, or women who braid their hair regularly.”

The contraceptive pill: TRUE

Dr Sharon Wong: “Sex hormones have a huge affect on hair health – we know this from changes during pregnancy, post-pregnancy and the menopause. Some synthetic progesterones have a testosterone-like effect, which can cause hair loss, and progesterone-only contraceptives (like the mini-pill or depo provera injections) can aggravate hair shedding. Oestrogen in combined pills tends to have a more protective effect. Combined contraceptive pills like Dianette and Yasmin have an anti-male hormone effect which can be useful in protecting against female pattern hair loss, and those with PCOS. Finally, Spironolactone (not a contraceptive) is a diuretic that can be used for hormonal acne and hormonal hair loss, but – as with all treatments – it’s generally better to start sooner rather than later.”

Jamie GrillGetty Images

Anabel Kingsley: It’s true taking the contraceptive pill can affect your hair, but it depends largely on your genetic predisposition. Oral contraceptives can help the hair, but some can make hair loss worse too, and it often depends on the individual. Dianette is regularly prescribed to people experiencing hair loss, for example, as it’s known for being ‘hair-friendly’ but there are long term risks associated with it. Microgynon, on the other hand, isn’t hair-friendly for everyone. If you’re worried about your birth control or hair loss, your GP will be able to advise on options best suited to you.”

Overwashing: FALSE

Dr Sharon Wong: “I don’t think overwashing does anything to growth or loss directly, but it affects the hair’s aesthetics, and can lead to a dry scalp and hair. There’s generally no one-fits-all for hair – it’s like skin, everybody’s different. But your scalp health is really important and leave-on products can leave a film of residue which gives a tacky feel and look, as well as attracting dust and dirt. That can potentially change the microbiome or balance of normal bacteria and yeasts on the scalp surface – aggravating conditions like dandruff. So it’s really important to wash regularly!”

There’s generally no one-fits-all for hair – it’s like skin, everybody’s different

Anabel Kingsley: “Your scalp is the environment your hair grows in, so it’s crucial to keep it healthy for it to support hair growth – if you’re not washing your hair enough, you’re likely to experience flaking which in turn can cause hair loss and inhabit growth. But non-washing is a complete myth – our hair won’t clean itself when you leave it long enough, no part of the body is self-cleaning. Think all of the pollution, car fumes, dust from building sites, dead skin cells – left on your hair to fester, it’s just not hygienic.”

Diet: TRUE

Dr Sharon Wong: “Hair follicle cells are one of the fastest-growing cells in the body but it’s not an essential structure, so our bodies don’t prioritise nutrition to the hair. Dramatic weight-loss itself can cause hair shedding by depriving hair of nutrients – your hair is made from keratin which is protein – and a diet deficient in protein can cause loss, too. A well-balanced diet that includes lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, iron (women tend to have lower levels of iron stores – ferritin), Vitamin C to help absorb iron, B vitamins including biotin and essential fatty acids are all vital in providing the nutrition to keep hair follicle cells healthy. Interestingly, Vitamin D receptors have been identified on hair follicles too, and play an important role in the hair growth cycle.”

Anabel Kingsley: “It’s very difficult to get the nutrients we need through vegan or vegetarian diets alone, because they lack important proteins. Plant proteins don’t contain all the essential amino acids our hair needs, and plant sources aren’t absorbed as easily by the body (it’s non-heme iron, which is harder to break down). Supplementation is definitely needed because vegan foods don’t contain all vitamins, like B12 for example, which vegans will need to look to supplements or fortified foods for. The risk with taking a self-prescribed supplement, is that you might not be getting adequate levels, and it could interfere with existing medication – so speak to your GP before taking anything new.”

Sophie Goddard Features Editor I’m Cosmo’s Acting Features Editor.

Hair Loss and Birth Control

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Can Taking Hormonal Birth Control Cause or Prevent Hair Loss?

TLDR: No, birth control does NOT cause hair loss. No birth control does NOT prevent hair loss.

Birth control pills are the most popular forms of contraceptives in the U.S. Women don’t just take birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, though. The birth control pill and other forms of hormonal contraceptives can also help women manage the symptoms of numerous health conditions, including PCOS, endometriosis, and even hair loss.

While most people may think that hair loss and baldness only affect men, women make up about 40% of all hair-loss treatment candidates. For most women, their hair is a huge source of their self-esteem and confidence. Experiencing hair loss as a woman can be incredibly distressing. About 15% of all hair restoration surgeries are performed on women. Fortunately, there are less invasive treatment options for female pattern baldness.

But what types of birth control can prevent hair loss, and can some birth control pills make the condition worse? The following article will explore the symptoms of female pattern baldness, and if birth control can help or hinder the condition.

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What is hormonal hair loss, and what causes it?

Some women can develop an autoimmune condition called androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern baldness. In autoimmune system disorders, the body attacks its own cells and systems. In the case of alopecia, the body attacks hair follicles. Hair loss can happen on a person’s head or their body. With this disorder, hair falls out in clumps the size of a quarter or larger. Usually, the hair will eventually grow back. But having this happen can be incredibly distressing and scary. Fortunately, the pill can be prescribed for female pattern baldness.

How do hormones influence hair growth and loss?

Hormones affect almost every part of the body, not just the reproductive process. Hair growth, hair loss, and hair integrity are all influenced by hormones, too. Birth control pills and other hormonal birth control products contain a cocktail of different hormones – either estrogen and progestin, or progestin only. Although the express purpose of the pill is to prevent ovulation and thus, fertilization, the pill influences other physiological processes too.

While the female reproductive system is most heavily influenced by progesterone and estrogen, androgens also play a significant role. Androgens are male sex hormones, like testosterone, that are also present in the female reproductive system, although at minimal levels. Men also naturally produce estrogen, too, but it is in minuscule amounts. Androgens, however, significantly influence hair loss and growth. The presence of male sex hormones is one of the biggest reasons why men are prone to hair loss and baldness. While women only need to produce a tiny amount of androgens for reproductive health, higher levels of androgens can trigger alopecia in women. Women who experience hair loss tend to have thinning of all of their hair, where balding occurs around the entire head. For men, baldness tends to happen in specific areas of the head, such as the temples, the crown, or the back of the head.

Fortunately, birth control pills are a noninvasive and effective way to balance androgen levels in women who are sensitive to their presence. In most cases though, women suffering from alopecia will need to take birth control pills in addition to medications that reduce androgen production. The most popular of these is spironolactone, which is also used to treat high blood pressure.

Can the birth control pill cause hair loss?

In some cases, starting the birth control pill can trigger hair loss in women who are sensitive to hormonal fluctuations, especially fluctuations of androgens. Women who do not have any problems with alopecia or hair loss can experience some hair loss when first starting the pill, or if they are on the pill for a period and then stop taking the pill. Hair loss in these cases is typically not permanent. But, for women who are prone to hair loss stemming from hormonal issues, they need to be aware of the risk of hair loss when starting or stopping the pill.

Which birth control options are good or bad for hair loss?

While some birth control pills can be used to help treat female-pattern baldness, not all birth control pills are created equal in this regard. Again, some pills can trigger hair loss in women who are sensitive or predisposed to this issue. Birth control options that contain low levels of androgens and have a “low androgen index” are ideal for treating hair loss or preventing hair loss in women with certain risk factors. Birth control pills with a low androgen index include the following:

  • Desogen
  • Ortho-Cyclen
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen
  • Ortho-Cept
  • Micronor

Birth control pills that contain a high level of androgens and should be avoided for women with hair loss issues are:

  • Loestrin
  • Ovral
  • Lo-Ovral
  • Ovrette
  • Nordette

Progestin implants, the birth control shot, the birth control patch, and the birth control ring should be avoided for women who are concerned about hair loss.

While it’s true that birth control pills are highly effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy and for treating other health issues, women with other risk factors should not take birth control pills for hair loss treatment. Birth control pills can increase the risk of a blood clot, heart attack, or stroke in women who are over 35, have a family or personal history of these issues, and women who smoke.

Women who have the above risk factors and are also concerned about preventing hair loss and an unintended pregnancy can benefit from non-hormonal birth control methods. Copper IUDs and also barrier methods can be effective for preventing pregnancy, and they will not increase the risk of blood clots or hair loss.

As always, it’s crucial that women do their research when considering a birth control method that is going to work for her needs and lifestyle. Talking to an experienced gynecologist about concerns regarding hair loss and birth control can also assuage any fears and reservations she may have. While birth control does come with some risks, birth control pills have numerous health benefits, and can even decrease the risk of developing certain cancers. Sign up with Pandia Health today to explore your options for hormonal birth control that align with your needs and lifestyle.

Disclaimer:

The views expressed in this article intend to inform and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Pandia Health, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Excessive Hair Growth (Hirsutism): Management and Treatment

How is hirsutism treated?

The first step would be weight loss. If you are overweight, even losing 5% of your body weight can lower androgen levels and help a lot. Also, mild hirsutism can be treated with a variety of techniques for hair removal. These techniques do not address the cause of the problem, only the excessive hair.

Temporary hair removal

  • Shaving is the most common method of hair removal. It is very simple and safe, but must be done very regularly to prevent stubble.
  • Bleaching products can be used to lighten unwanted hair. Caution: Some bleaching products, especially if left on for too long, can cause skin irritation.
  • Waxing and plucking (tweezing) the hair is effective, but may irritate the hair follicle and cause pimples.
  • Depilatories are products that dissolve hair. These products can irritate sensitive facial skin.

Hair growth reduction

  • Eflornithine hydrochloride (Vaniqa®) cream is a topical product that does not remove hair but acts to slow down how fast the hair grows. Noticeable results take about 6 to 8 weeks, and once the cream is discontinued, hair starts to grow at the normal rate it was growing pre-treatment. It is often used in conjunction with other therapies.

Long lasting hair removal

  • Electrolysis is a technique that uses a tiny needle and a mild electrical zap to destroy hair roots one by one. Because each hair follicle needs to be treated, it may not be practical to use electrolysis over a large area of the body. This process can be somewhat painful, time-consuming, and expensive. If you choose this technique, make sure your provider is licensed. Home electrolysis products are not effective or recommended.
  • Photoepilation (laser) treatments use a beam of light to destroy the hair follicle. This technique is long-lasting and can be used over larger areas of the body. Photoepilation is effective, but can be painful and expensive, and it requires several treatments.

Medical treatment

  • Weight loss is essential. If you are overweight, even losing 5% of your body weight can lower androgen levels and help decrease unwanted hair.
  • Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) are the most common form of medical treatment for hirsutism. Birth control pills lower androgen levels, regulate the menstrual cycle and prevent pregnancy. Most women will notice an improvement in hirsutism in 6 to 12 months.
  • Medications that suppress androgens may be used in combination with birth control pills.
    • Spironolactone (Aldactone®) is a diuretic, or “water pill,” that is normally used as a blood pressure medication but can also be used at lower doses for hirsutism. It blocks the effects of androgens and reduces hair growth. Side effects may include dry skin, heartburn, irregular vaginal bleeding, dizziness and fatigue.
    • Finasteride is another anti-androgen drug that has been effective for hirsutism. It is reported to be as effective as spironolactone.
    • Flutamide is another anti-androgen drug that is used in the treatment of hirsutism. One major concern with this drug is the side effect of causing damage to the liver. It is not considered a first line agent for hirsutism .
    • Topical creams with anti-androgen effect exist but do not work very well for hirsutism.
  • Low-dose steroid medications may be used if hirsutism is caused by overactive adrenal glands.
  • Insulin-lowering drugs such as metformin and thiazolidinediones reduce blood levels of both insulin and androgens, but this treatment is controversial and not considered a first-line treatment as they have significant adverse side effects.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists act by decreasing androgen production by the ovaries. This therapy however requires injections and is expensive. Moreover, it does not offer any more benefits than do birth control pills.

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After being on the pill for 13 years, when I decided to stop taking it, without warning, my hair completely changed.

I had been really lucky – I’d never experienced the negative side-effects some women report from taking it, until last year when I started getting a seven-day-long headache during the ‘break’ from the combined pill.

It was unbearable and no amount of pain medication would take the edge off, so I decided to stop taking the pill (while still taking care of contraception in other ways, of course).

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Within a couple of months, I noticed my hair thinning. As someone who uses their hair like a safety blanket, I was horrified to be losing something I relied upon so much. If my hair isn’t looking good, I don’t feel good, full stop.

I put the shedding down to the fact that I had coloured it bright blonde for my wedding a few months before, and had also had extensions recently taken out. I’d gone through the regrowth process post-extension before and so I thought my hair would be back to normal in a matter of weeks.

But the improvement never came. My hair kept thinning, quite noticeably, and continues to now. Not just that, but the texture of it has transformed, and not in a good way. My hairdresser noticed it first a couple of months ago when she was cutting my hair. My hair had always been thin and fine, but relatively strong and never terribly frizzy. But now, my hair is flat, humidity affects it massively, it knots quickly, it loses its style straight away and it gets greasier faster than ever before.

It didn’t occur to me that it was anything to do with the pill until I started to do some research. I was taking care of my hair, using masks, using good quality shampoo and conditioner and I was using heat protectors the whole time, so why was it still in this condition?

I got checked by my doctor for thyroid problems, which involves a blood test, but that came back clear. I was eating well, exercising and being generally healthy. The only major thing I could think of was the pill.

So I did some research, and I found out that sudden extreme changes in hormones, such as a sharp reduction in oestrogen, can cause hair shedding. I knew this was the case, as I had heard it anecdotally, with women who’ve just had a baby. Post-partum shedding is a similar issue, however, with a hormone disruption causing the hair loss.

Hair growth phases

I discovered something I never knew: hair has phases, and each hair on your head goes through the various phases at different times. Each hair follicle is independent, thankfully, otherwise all your hair would fall out at once. Instead, you only shed about 80 hairs a day if yours is a healthy head of hair.

The first phase is the Anagen Phase, where your hair is actively growing. It lasts about 3-5 years, and within that your hair grows about half an inch per month.

Then there’s the Catagen Phase. This is just a transitional phase that lasts about 10 days. Lastly, the Telogen or Exogen Phase, a resting phase when your hair is released and then eventually falls out. The follicle is inactive for a few months and the whole process is repeated.

Hormone changes can affect the length of the various phases, and can also send your hair too quickly into the Telogen phase, meaning it’s resting and falling out quicker.

Having said all of that, there are many other factors that can affect hair loss, and I was experiencing more than just one. Stress, age (ouch!), poor diet and too much styling can all play a role in hair loss. I put my hair through a lot of styling, and I also put my whole body through a 30th birthday recently, so that could be playing a part too as much as I don’t want to admit it.

The steps I am taking to get my old air back

So, what I’ve been doing to try to improve things is going back to what I know works. I have been trying to be the healthiest version of myself for the last few months to see does it help. The things I’ve been doing are:

– Taking a daily multi-vitamin:

One that includes zinc and iron, as well as the other vitamins women are recommended to take.

– Doing regular exercise:

It helps me feel better mentally, it helps me sleep and it helps me feel better on bad hair days to have a bit of body confidence.

– Styling less and washing it less:

In an attempt to keep hold of as many hairs as possible, I now try to wash my hair just three times a week.

– Using Nioxin’s three-step hair programme:

It worked for me in the past when my hair was damaged from extensions, so I decided to try it again. Ask your salon about which one would suit you before you buy it (cos it ain’t cheap!)

– Brushing:

When I brush my hair, I use a Tangle Teezer.

– I use a heat protector spray:

before and hot styling or blow-drying.

– Breakage:

I use those plastic bobbins that reduce hair breakage.

– Treat myself:

I use a treatment at least once per week, whether that’s a leave-in conditioner or a wash-out mask.

Nioxin Three Step Programme for Progressed Thinning (check with salon before buying), €52.50

Kerastase Masque Force Architecte, €39.60

The Ultimate Finishing Tool brush from Tangle Teezer, €18

ghd Heat Protect Spray, €20.06

Always consult your doctor before changing, starting or stopping any contraceptive pill, likewise before taking any supplements or vitamins. If your hair loss is persistent or if you find patches, consult your doctor immediately.

Oral contraceptives, otherwise known as “the pill”, are some of the most popular forms of birth control in the U.S. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25.9% of American women who use contraception choose oral birth control pills. But like any medication, birth control pills can have side effects. For some women, birth control side effects are positive (like fewer acne breakouts). But for others, the side effects of birth control pills can include hair loss.

If you think your birth control pill could be causing thinning hair, then keep reading to learn more about the link between birth control and hair loss. And find out what you can do about it.

Psst… Viviscal Hair Growth† Supplements can be a big help for women with hair loss caused by everyday factors like birth control pills, vitamin deficiencies and stress.*

The Link Between Birth Control & Hair Loss

First, here’s a little background on how birth control pills work. The pill uses a combination of synthetic female hormones to prevent ovulation and greatly reduce the chances of conception. While oral contraceptives are very effective in preventing pregnancy, they do have some drawbacks.

According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), birth control pills can cause hair loss, especially in women who are particularly sensitive to hormonal changes. Additionally, birth control pills can lead to hair loss in women who have a family history of hormone-related hair loss.

So how does birth control cause hair loss? The synthetic hormones in birth control pills can interrupt your hair growth cycle. These hormones move hair follicles from their growing phase (anagen phase) to their resting phase (telogen phase). As a result, the scalp sheds more hair than normal. This type of hair loss is called telogen effluvium.

Women who do have birth control hair loss may notice it at different times. Some women see hair loss when they first start taking take birth control. Others may have it when they stop taking the pill. And others could see it when they switch between different types of birth control pills.

Most of the time, birth control-related hair loss is not too severe. But of course, as we all know, even a little hair loss can feel traumatizing when it happens to us! So keep reading to learn what to do if you have hair loss from birth control.

How to Minimize Birth Control Hair Loss

Luckily, hair loss from birth control pills is usually temporary. Your hair should stop falling out in a few months as your body gets used to the new levels of hormones.

If your hair loss continues to be an issue, ask your doctor about other contraceptive options. If you have a history — or a family history — of hormonal hair loss, consider asking your doctor about using a non-hormonal form of birth control.

If you don’t want to change your birth control, do not stress. There are simple tips and tricks you can follow to get thicker and healthier-looking hair.

3 Simple Tips for Thicker-Looking Hair

1. Nourish Your Hair
One way to maximize the growing phase of your hair growth cycle is to eat a diet rich in hair-healthy nutrients. Think lean proteins, healthy fats, citrus fruits, and leafy green vegetables.

Viviscal Advanced Hair Health Supplements can fill in the gaps in your diet. With biotin, zinc, vitamin C, horsetail plant extract, iron, and an exclusive AminoMar™ marine complex, Viviscal Supplements nourish hair follicles for healthier-looking hair from the inside out.*

2. Style with Volume

How you style your hair can make a huge difference in how thick it looks. Follow this styling routine to boost your locks, making them look more volumized. That will help disguise any hair loss from birth control:

  • Start by washing your hair with Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo, which cleanses hair without stripping it of its natural oils.
  • Next, apply a small amount of Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Conditioner from the ear level to the ends. Let the conditioner sit for several minutes while it works its magic. Then rinse with cool water. This will add moisture to your hair without weighing it down.
  • Gently dry your hair with a cotton t-shirt.
  • Apply a dime size amount of Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Elixir from roots to ends. Use a wide-tooth comb to work the product evenly through the hair.
  • Blow-dry hair upside down, paying special attention to the roots. Use a round brush to smooth flyaways and frizz. You’ll be amazed at your hair’s volume!

3. Switch Your Part

The easiest way to add the look of volume to your hair is free and takes just seconds. The secret? Just switch your part!

Most of us part our hair in the same place day in and day out. But when you part your hair in a different location, the hair goes against the direction of your hair follicles, giving it some lift at the root.

Also, try styling your hair with a zig-zag part rather than a straight part to help hide any areas of hair loss.

Have you ever experienced hair loss from birth control pills? Let us know in the comments!

†Existing hair growth

Getty Images By Kathleen Mulpeter · March 3, 2017

This article originally appeared on Health.

Birth control has lots of perks: it can clear up your skin, regulate your periods, and nix PMS, not to mention prevent pregnancy. So if you’ve been popping the pill for years, it’s understandable that you might be a little nervous about what will happen to your body when you quit.

The good news? “For the most part, women don’t notice too much of a difference ,” says Alyssa Dweck, MD, a gynecologist in New York and author of the upcoming book The A to Z of the V. But if you were taking birth control for a specific reason, such as alleviating cramps or acne, you could very well see a return of those symptoms once you’re no longer on it.

“A lot of the changes women see go back to the reason they were taking birth control in the first place,” Dr. Dweck explains.

The side effects of stopping birth control depend on what kind you’ve been taking (combination, progestin-only, or extended-cycle) and your dosage. And two women taking the same exact pill could still have totally different experiences when they quit. Still, there are some common changes that may happen to your body when you stop taking birth control pills. Here’s what you should (and shouldn’t) expect to happen.

You could get pregnant right away

No, your body doesn’t need time to clear birth control from your system. For most women, normal ovulation resumes within a month or two, and one study found that 20% of women were able to get pregnant one cycle after stopping birth control. (It may take longer after you stop getting birth control injections, though.) If you’re not trying to get pregnant, make sure to use condoms or another type of contraception immediately after you stop taking your pills.

Your weight will probably stay the same

Don’t ditch birth control solely to drop a few pounds. Though many women believe they’ve gained weight on the pill, scientific research hasn’t actually found a link between oral contraceptive use and weight gain. In a 2014 review of 49 relevant trials, birth control did not appear to have a major impact on weight. “There has been no definitive evidence showing that starting—or stopping—birth control pills will affect your weight,” says Neha Bhardwaj, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. (One exception: progestin-only birth control injections may cause weight gain in some women.)

Your skin might break out

Combination birth control pills (the most common type), which combine estrogen and progestin, clear up acne in many women because they can lower the body’s levels of androgen, a hormone that produces oils on the skin. You may discover new crops of pimples after you stop taking the pill—especially around your period, when hormone levels fluctuate.

“Going off birth control pills may return acne symptoms to what they were before starting birth control pills,” says Dr. Bhardwaj. If you do decide to go off the pill, there are other ways to manage your hormonal acne, like switching cleansers, reducing stress, or taking probiotic supplements.

You might lose a bit of hair

Switching birth control pills or going off it completely could trigger telogen effluvium, a temporary condition that causes your hair to shed. Telogen effluvium usually subsides within six months, after your body has adjusted to not being on birth control. Some women who had hormonal-related hair loss (as a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome, for example) before they went on birth control might notice that it returns when they go off of the pill. All that said, hair loss is complicated, explains Dr. Dweck, and is often related to other factors, such as stress.

The bottom line? “Most women won’t see a significant net effect on their hair after stopping birth control pills,” says Josh Klein, MD, chief medical officer at Extend Fertility in New York City.

On the flip side, some women may grow more hair, but not necessarily on their heads. Dark, coarse hairs can pop up in unwanted spots like the face, back, and chest if the body produces too much androgen. PCOS is the most common culprit.

Your period might be heavier and less regular

One of the biggest benefits of the pill is that it regulates your menstrual cycle. “Birth control pills typically lighten periods and decrease pain associated with periods,” says Dr. Bhardwaj. When you first stop taking oral contraceptives, it’s not unusual for your period to be a little unpredictable in terms of how heavy or light it is, how long it lasts, or how crampy you get.

“Some women who have been on the pill for many years assume their cycles are very regular,” says Dr. Klein. “But when they stop the pill, they learn their cycles are not as regular as they thought.” After two or three months, your period should return to normal, he adds.

Another surprise guest that could reappear when you quit the pill? PMS. “This is a big reason why many women go on birth control in the first place,” says Dr. Dweck. If you originally started taking the pill to ease PMS, don’t be surprised if symptoms like moodiness and irritability become more noticeable now that you’re off it.

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Your vitamin D levels could drop

A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that many women experience a drop in vitamin D levels when they stop taking birth control pills. This is especially problematic for women who are trying to conceive, since vitamin D helps support the fetal skeleton in pregnancy.

Let your doctor know you’re quitting birth control pills, and ask about ways you can get your daily vitamin D, whether by spending more time outside (with SPF!), eating vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, or possibly taking a supplement.

Your boobs may feel a little different

Many women report achy breasts before their period (you can thank hormones for that—a spike in progesterone before your period stimulates growth in the milk glands, which can cause tenderness). Since birth control pills regulate your hormone levels, they may alleviate this symptom for some women. So going off the pill could mean that your breasts start to feel a little more sensitive post-ovulation, says Dr. Klein.

However, breast tenderness can also be a side effect of being on the pill, says Guirlaine Agnant, MD, chair in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital in Mount Vernon, NY. If your breasts felt super-sensitive at certain times of the month when you were taking birth control, it might actually go away once you stop taking it. For these women, “stopping the pill will bring back normal breast tissue, and no tenderness should be experienced.”

You might also notice slight changes in the appearance of your breasts: “Some women will see their breasts deflate a bit when they go off the pill,” says Dr. Dweck.

You could get more headaches

About half of women report migraines around the time that they get their period, according to a 2004 study. (This is most likely due to a drop in estrogen levels.) Certain birth control pills that let you skip periods or go longer between them, such as extended-cycle pills, may prevent migraines. For these women, going off birth control pills could cause their headaches to become more frequent.

Your libido might be affected

Dr. Agnant tells us that some of her patients complain their sex drives took a hit when they first went on the pill. “This is most likely due to changes in hormonal production,” she says, adding that these women usually experience an increase in libido when they stop taking birth control.

But again, every woman is different—and for some, sex could be more stressful without the protection from unplanned pregnancy that birth control pills offer.

“Decreasing the risk of pregnancy for a woman may allow her to enjoy the experience of sex more,” says Dr. Bhardwaj.

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