Can Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?
At some point, you’ve likely noticed that a few extra strands of hair sneak down the drain after you shower. But did you know that birth control pills can contribute to hair loss? Some people lose more hair while taking oral contraceptives, while others notice an increase after they stop taking the pill. Here we explain why this can happen and what you can do about it.
The link between birth control and hair loss
Birth control pills can certainly cause some additional hair loss, says Michele Green, MD, a state-approved cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. Hair growth occurs in phases, from growth to rest to hair loss. “The reason hair can fall out as a result of using contraceptives is because the hormonal oral contraceptive can make the hair stay in the telogen (or resting) phase for too long,” says Dr. Green. âDuring the telogen phase, hair loses between 25 and 100 strands per day and does not grow actively, which means that we lose hair over a longer period of time. When women sometimes experience hair loss from birth control pills, the body just needs one chance to get hormones back to normal levels. “
For the most part, hair loss on birth control is both harmless and temporary, and usually resolves on its own. However, in some cases, especially if there has been a family history of baldness, thinning hair can be a concern. To solve the problem, it is important to understand exactly what is going on.
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Causes of hair loss on birth control
The first thing your doctor may want to know about hair loss prevention is whether you lose hair while taking the pill or after you stop taking it. This is because these events indicate two different problems. We’ll take a closer look at both of them below.
Hair loss during birth control
Loss of hair after starting birth control is less common than losing a few extra strands after stopping the pill. However, if this does happen, it’s likely that your prescription contains a progestin that contains androgens (male hormones), says Dr. Green. The increase in androgen receptors in these pills can contribute to hair loss.
But this is where it gets confusing: some contraception formulations may actually be helpful for hair loss. âThe estrogen it contains can suppress the production of androgens in the ovaries and increase a protein called sex hormone-binding globulin in the blood. This protein binds free testosterone in the bloodstream, so there is less testosterone available to cause hair loss, âsaid Hadley King, MD, a certified dermatologist and clinical instructor of Dermatology at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College.
So, if you’ve recently started taking oral contraceptives and are losing more hair than normal, you might want to switch to a different type. “Drospirenone is a progestin with particularly high anti-androgenic activity, which is why oral contraceptives containing this progestin, including Yasmin and Yaz, are particularly helpful in reducing hair loss,” says Dr. King.
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In addition to this argument, the American Hair Loss Association recommends that “all women interested in using oral contraceptives to prevent conception should only use low-androgen-index contraceptive pills and if there is a strong predisposition to genetic hair loss in their family” . We recommend using another non-hormonal method of contraception.
Hair loss after stopping birth control
The most common form of hair loss after birth control is called telogen effluvium. “This is a type of hair loss that occurs after a person has stressed the body or mind, such as after giving birth or stopping an oral contraceptive,” says Dr. King, which causes hair to remain dormant longer than usual can cause more hair to fall out at the same time than normal.
For most people with no other complicating factors, such as a family history of baldness or a weakened immune system, telogen effluvium is not a cause for concern. At some point your hair will leave this stage and you will find that the number of strands you lose to the shower drain each morning is decreasing.
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How to treat hair loss through birth control
While hair loss from birth control isn’t usually a concern, seeing all that hair in your brush when you’re getting ready can be stressful. You are probably wondering how to treat or at least prevent it.
The key is to focus on supportive care for your hair when it’s stressed out, says Dr. King, and that starts with taking care of your body as a whole. Below we’ve listed some hair support measures you can take to ensure a quick return to a thick, full mane.
Take vitamins. Take a multivitamin supplement to prevent possible vitamin or mineral deficiencies
Eat a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fresh, whole foods, such as vegetables and fruits. “A balanced diet with sufficient protein, calories, vitamins and minerals and not a restrictive diet is best for hair growth,” says Dr. King.
Minimize stress. “Stress can trigger the end of the anagen or growth phase,” recalls Dr. King, “so developing stress management techniques can help stimulate hair growth.”
Cut down on styling. Limit high heat, chemical styling, or other practices that can damage the hair.
Be gentle with your hair. “A hair care product that allows the protective layer or cuticle to remain intact for as long as possible reduces breakage and drying out of the hair,” says Dr. King. “So keep your hair moisturized with conditioners, creams, and oils that will help prevent dryness and thus reduce the risk of damage and breakage.”
CONNECTED: Postpartum Hair Loss: Your Guide to Hair Loss After Pregnancy
Hair growth support products and processes
If you are experiencing birth control hair loss that has not resolved itself, there are several things you can try that can help. Always consult a doctor before trying any of these treatment options.
“Ginseng root is an ingredient to look out for in hair products,” says Dr. King. “Ginseng stimulates the scalp’s microcirculation and helps to inhibit the production of DHT, the main hormone responsible for androgenetic hair loss.” She recommends trying a product called Activating Serum from Collective Laboratories.
Minoxidil is a topical hair treatment that can be used daily to encourage the hair follicles to enter the growth phase of the hair growth cycle. It’s widely available in stores and online (see Rogaine for Women) and can be applied as a foam. This treatment is simple and relatively inexpensive.
Dr. Green recommends this all-natural dietary supplement to help hair regrowth. It comes in tablet form, along with vitamins, and as an oil that can be applied to the scalp. Ingredients such as ashwagandha, marine collagen and curcumin stimulate hair growth and promote the well-being of the entire body.
This hair growth serum is specially formulated for women who have any type of hormonal hair loss, including birth control. In the case of biotin oil and Redensyl, daily use should already lead to results after 60 days.
“Depending on your medical history and the severity of your illness, oral medications may be recommended,” says Dr. Green. Talk to your doctor to get their opinion on whether this might be a good option for you.
Platelet rich plasma
Dr. Green says platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy can replace severe hair loss. “This minimally invasive cosmetic procedure uses growth factors and is intended to stimulate new hair growth and at the same time strengthen existing strands,” says Dr. Green. In the process, a highly concentrated plasma is produced from a blood sample from the patient, which is then injected directly into targeted areas of the scalp. The injected PRP stimulates the hair follicles on the scalp to produce hair growth.