Women’s Hair Loss: The Hormone Connection

When it comes to the treatment of hair loss one of the most significant hurdles is determining its cause.  Hair loss can be the result of many different underlying conditions and effective treatment requires knowing what specific causes need to be addressed.  This difficulty can be particularly pronounced in cases of women’s hair loss; while 95% of male hair loss is the result of inherited pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, the causes of women’s hair loss can be much more varied.  In some cases, the problem is related to an imbalance in hormones.  Men’s hormone levels follow relatively predictable patterns, but a number of distinct disorders, as well as several common life events, like pregnancy or menopause, can cause a significant fluctuation in female hormone levels that can result in hair loss. Additionally, the hormone changes caused by the stress of an operation or severe trauma may cause hair loss in either sex.

Women's Hair Loss: The Hormone ConnectionEvery hair follicle goes through a natural cycle of hair growth and shedding.  In fact, at any given time, as many as 15% of the hairs on the scalp are in a dormant state, and anywhere from 50 to 125 hairs are shed daily.  However, during pregnancy, the cycle is interrupted and the hair follicles do not go dormant.  This is why many women experience thicker, more luxurious hair during pregnancy.  However, after the child is born and the body’s hormones begin to return to normal, this shift in hormone levels can cause many hair follicles to enter the dormant stage and shed simultaneously.  While this mimics the appearance of massive sudden hair loss, it is actually only the body’s return to its normal state and so is seldom cause for concern.  Moreover, just as the shift in hormone levels caused by pregnancy can result in loss of hair, so can the artificial shift in hormone levels caused by birth control pills.  Switching or going off or on birth control pills can be enough of a shock to the body’s endocrine system to cause telogen effluvium, a condition typically associated with increased physical or emotional stress.  The change in the hormonal balance that occurs at menopause can also have much the same result.

The thyroid, a small gland located in your neck, produces many of the hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, and development.  Any abnormality in the function of this gland, particularly declining levels of thyroid hormone production, can contribute to hair loss.  It is estimated that forty percent of American women are suffering from significant hair loss related to low thyroid hormones, or hypothyroidism, with redheads particularly at risk.  Similarly, polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition wherein an excess of male hormones (androgens) leads to ovarian cysts, weight gain, and hair thinning.  In both cases, bringing the hormone levels back into balance by treating the underlying condition is the best way to restore hair to normal.

If you have questions about hair loss causes and the treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ .