Temporary hair loss affects millions of men and women all over the world. What causes this condition? Could your hormonal birth control pills play a part?
Of all the adults in the U.S. who experience hair loss, some 40% are women. Thinning hair and baldness are less socially accepted for women, so ladies may be less likely to seek treatment. But the problem is very real, and it's often very embarrassing and emotionally painful.
Oral contraceptives are a common trigger for hair loss in women who are predisposed to hormone-related hair loss or those who are hypersensitive to hormonal changes in the body. Here's how it works.
The Causes of Temporary Hair Loss
First, it's important to note that hormonal hair loss and hereditary female-pattern baldness are not the same thing. Hereditary baldness is gradual, genetic and largely outside your control. Because there is a genetic component, if the women in your family suffer from thinning hair with age, you are more likely to suffer from hereditary baldness as well.
On the other hand, hormonal hair loss is often temporary and can be reversed when normal hormone levels are restored. Hormonal imbalances and changes — such as those that accompany pregnancy, childbirth and menopause — can all cause temporary hair loss.
When hormonal changes cause testosterone to be converted to DHT, the DHT can shrink hair follicles and cause hair loss as a result. For this reason, medications or therapies — including some birth control treatments — that alter hormone levels can also trigger hair loss in some women.
Other types of hair loss can be caused by scalp and skin disorders and infections, medications, radiation, depression, stress, poor nutrition, excessive weight loss, high blood pressure, thyroid problems and hormonal changes. Autoimmune diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis, as well as diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and sickle-cell anemia, can also affect the thickness and quality of your hair.
Birth Control and Hair Loss
Oral contraceptives disrupt your normal hormone balance and can act as a common trigger for hair loss in women. Birth control pills suppress ovulation with progestin or a combination of estrogen and progestin. Women who have a predisposition to hormone-related hair loss may experience hair loss while they are taking birth control pills or, more likely, several months after they stop taking them.
Contraceptives with high androgen indexes can make hair loss worse. For these women, low-androgen index contraceptives such as Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Mircette and others are recommended.
Contraceptives that have been known to trigger or worsen hair loss include progestin implants such as Norplant (which release a continuous dose of progestin) as well as hormone injections such as Depo-Provera, skin patches and the NuvaRing (all of which continually release progestin and estrogen).
Hair Restoration Options
If your hair is thinning, talk to your doctor to rule out possible medical causes. Find out if your hair loss is hormonal or hereditary. Depending on the cause, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter topical treatments or hair transplant procedures to help restore your confidence.
Popular minimally invasive techniques like Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) enable skilled technicians to use gentle pneumatic pressure to extract individual hair follicles and implant them areas where your hair has thinned. There are no scalpels, sutures or scarring, and only a local anesthetic is required. Your hair grows back naturally, and the solution is permanent.
If you are experiencing hair loss, contact our team at Dallas Neograft today to explore your hair restoration options.