Hair loss can be caused by a wide range of factors and hormones are just one of them. For most women, hormonal changes are the leading cause of their shedding or thinning locks. It’s no surprise when you think that the female body has a really delicate balance of hormones and chemicals. Any changes within that delicate balance and chaos can ensue.
Here, you’ll discover just 5 ways your hormones can cause havoc with your hair.
Hormones and hair loss: fluctuating oestrogen levels
Oestrogen is the most important female hormone and it’s extremely beneficial to the body when it’s balanced correctly. However, fluctuating oestrogen levels can have an impact on your follicles.
During pregnancy, you have excess levels of oestrogen and you’ll typically notice that, as you approach your due date, your hair looks healthier than it perhaps ever has done. This is because the increased oestrogen causes the hair to temporarily stop shedding and goes into the resting phase. After giving birth, as your oestrogen levels naturally drop, the hair then starts to shed. Known as post-partum hair loss or telogen effluvium can lead to noticeable bald spots or at least overall thinning.
The good news is, oestrogen-related hair loss is usually only a temporary problem and will resolve itself after you give birth. If you’re still seeing noticeable thinning after six months, seek advice from a hair specialist to ensure there’s no other underlying cause.
Hormones and hair loss: too much DHT
All women have a small amount of the male hormone testosterone and it’s actually required by the body to function correctly. However, as with oestrogen, too much of it can cause trouble for our hair follicles.
It’s the potent Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, form of the hormone which causes the problem. DHT binds to the hair follicle receptors, causing them to shrink causing a form of hair loss known as androgenetic alopecia or female pattern baldness. While you’ll start to lose the hair on your head, you’ll ironically start to grow hair in other areas such as the neck and face.
Supplements, a healthy diet and exercise routine and reducing stress, can all help to combat excess DHT levels. Hair loss medications can also be prescribed that can halt further hair loss and may encourage hair regrowth.
Hormones and hair loss: perimenopause and menopause
Hair loss associated with the menopause is extremely common. Did you know you can start losing your hair, or noticing that it’s becoming a lot thinner, years before you actually go through the menopause?
As you age, your oestrogen levels start to decline. This, in turn, causes testosterone levels to rise, boosting DHT production. As mentioned above, DHT can have a severe impact on the hair’s follicles, causing the hair to become thinner.
Eating well, exercising and reducing stress can all help with maintaining hormone levels, but for many women, Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT can help them deal with the symptoms of the menopause including hair loss. It is important to note, though, that there are many variations of HRT, which can affect individual women – and their hair follicles – differently.
Hormones and hair loss: thyroid trouble
If you have a problematic thyroid, it can also lead to hair loss or hair thinning. A low or underactive thyroid is particularly problematic for the hair. As thyroid levels fluctuate, your body starts to use up the energy that would otherwise aid non-essential processes such as hair growth, to balance the hormones.
If thyroid issues are the cause of your hair thinning worries, medication could be the best course of treatment.
Hormones and hair loss: stress
Stress can impact your health in numerous ways and hair loss is one of them. The stress hormones constrict the small blood vessels which supply the hair follicles with the oxygen, nutrients and protein that it needs. This means the hair will end up looking dull and feeling brittle as it isn’t getting the nutrients it needs.
Stress hormones can also impact the natural hair cycle, pushing hair into the resting phase when the hormone levels are especially high. This then results in a large amount of shedding once the resting stage finishes. Again, this type of hair loss is temporary, and it should resolve once the stress has been eliminated.
These are just five ways your hormones and hair loss are related. Identifying the cause is vital to ensure you receive the best form of treatment moving forward.