Is your hair looking more sparse than usual? Hair loss for women can have many causes, from stress to over styling to vitamin deficiencies. But if you’re suffering from diffuse, widespread hair loss all over your head, your hormones may be to blame.
Some causes of hormonal hair loss (like menopause) are just natural parts of life, while others may signal a medical condition in need of treatment. Keep reading to learn more about hormones and the causes of hormonal hair loss.
Hormonal Hair Loss: What It Is
Hormones are the postal service of the body. They deliver messages to the tissues and cells, telling them when to take action. Hormones regulate many processes in the body like insulin production, heart rate, metabolism, and cell growth. These hormones must remain in a delicate balance in order for the body to remain healthy.
When these hormones become imbalanced, it can trigger a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. A medical hormone imbalance can decrease hair growth hormones like estrogen and progesterone, and increase hair-shedding hormones like androgen and testosterone.
Causes of hormonal hair loss include:
- Thyroid conditions, like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
- Perimenopause (premenopause)
- Giving birth (postpartum hair loss)
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Exposure to endocrine disruptors, like those found in some plastics
- Birth control pills
Hair Loss from Thyroid Conditions
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland and resides in the front of the neck. The thyroid, a part of the endocrine system, produces hormones that regulate cellular energy and regeneration.
Hair follicles depend on thyroid hormones to regulate their growth cycles. When thyroid hormones are imbalanced, it can disrupt the natural hair growth cycle. As hair reaches the end of the cycle and falls out, it is not replaced by new growth. Over time, this can cause hair to look thinner.
Some autoimmune disorders linked to thyroid conditions like alopecia areata, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and lupus can lead to further hair loss.
Luckily, thyroid hair loss is reversible with treatment. If you suspect that you have a thyroid-related hormonal imbalance, visit your doctor. Your doctor likely will prescribe hormone-regulating medications, which will help to restore the delicate hormonal balance required for normal, healthy hair growth.
In rare cases, thyroid medication can cause additional hair loss, though it usually tapers off after the first month of treatment.
Estrogen-Related Hair Loss
Imbalanced estrogen levels also can result in thinned locks. Estrogen is a female sex hormone created by the ovaries.
It’s natural for estrogen levels to fluctuate throughout a woman’s life, but drastic drops can disrupt the hair growth cycle and cause telogen effluvium. For example, during pregnancy, a woman’s estrogen levels are at their peak. Fewer hair follicles enter the telogen stage of the hair cycle, so hair looks thicker than usual. A few months after pregnancy, however, estrogen levels drop and the excess hair falls out. While totally normal, this type of telogen effluvium can be very upsetting for new mothers.
Estrogen levels also naturally drop during perimenopause and menopause. Perimenopause, or premenopause, usually begins when a woman is in her 40s. Her estrogen level slowly declines, then drops off swiftly when she reaches menopause. As estrogen levels fall, hair tends to thin.
PCOS, endocrine disruptors, and birth control pills also can disturb the delicate balance of hormones in a woman’s body and cause hair loss.
How to Combat Hormonal Hair Loss
- Visit your doctor to have your hormone levels tested. Your doctor will be able to tell if your hair loss is caused by a medical condition and prescribe treatment.
- Engaging in healthy habits like eating nutritious anti-inflammatory foods, exercising regularly, and practicing meditation may help to re-balance hormones naturally.
- If you are feeling self-conscious about hair loss, try Toppik Hair Building Fibers to instantly create the look of fuller hair. Hair Building Fibers cling to your existing hair, hiding thinning and scalp show-through.
- Imbalanced hormones can also make hair more brittle and prone to breakage, so it’s important to use a high-quality conditioner like Toppik Hair Building Conditioner to keep hair moisturized and feeling strong.
If you suspect that you have hormonal hair loss, tell your doctor. Some cases of hormonal hair loss, like thyroid hair loss, get worse over time if left untreated, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.