There are literally dozens of different types of hormones traveling through the human circulatory system at any given time, all playing vital roles in maintaining the activity of the various organs and processes of the body. Of particular interest to our researchers here at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research are those hormones that have significant effects on the hair’s growth cycle. Here are five of the hormones that most commonly contribute to hair thinning and loss.
Androgenetic alopecia, or genetic pattern baldness, the most common form of hair loss in both men and women, is believed to be caused by an inherited over-sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a byproduct of the breakdown of testosterone in the body. When testosterone levels rise, the body’s levels of DHT rise as well, increasing the rate of hair loss in people with this natural sensitivity. In women, the extent that DHT plays a role in female pattern hair loss is controversial, as studies on the use of DHT blockers in this population have produced mixed results. We are certain, however, that DHT absolutely contributes to hair loss in women with elevated androgens.
The thyroid secretes thyroxin, a hormone responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism and maintaining the energy it needs in order to function. Under active hormone production, a condition known as hypothyroidism, can cause many abnormalities, including fatigue, weight gain, and hair loss. Patients with hypothyroidism often complain of dry, lackluster hair that breaks easily. Interestingly, too much thyroid hormone, or hyperthyroidism, can cause the hair on the head to become thinner as well.
While balanced estrogen levels can help keep a woman feeling energized, help keep moods stable, and contribute to a healthy sex drive, either too much or too little can lead to thinning hair. Estrogen levels may fluctuate as a result of weight gain, perimenopause, as well as certain medications, and hair follicles do have estrogen receptors that are sensitive to fluctuations in this hormone. In addition, estrogen levels frequently peak and then dip during and after pregnancy, causing sudden hair shedding, or telogen effluvium for many women.
A hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels, insulin affects a number of different body processes, including fat storage, heart health, and hair growth. One study published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Risk found that women with some markers of insulin resistance have a greater risk for androgenic alopecia (AGA), or female pattern baldness.
When under stress, the body produces cortisol, which converts proteins into energy, releases glycogen and counteracts inflammation. This super-charged “fight or flight” state is ideal for dealing with short term threats, but when sustained for long periods can gradually tear the body down, destroying healthy muscle and bone and slowing down normal cell regeneration. Over time, this can lead to many unpleasant symptoms ranging from acne to hair loss.
If you have questions about your individual hair loss or any of the hair restoration treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration to schedule a consultation. Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.