PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age and can have debilitating symptoms. One of the most common physical issues associated with PCOS is hair loss, which can cause significant distress and frustration for those suffering from it.
The good news is that treatments are available to help manage the condition, including medications, lifestyle changes, specific diets, and other therapies. This comprehensive guide will discuss everything you need to know about PCOS hair loss — what causes it, how it’s diagnosed, various treatment options available (both medical and natural), as well as helpful tips on managing your condition.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects women of reproductive age and can have long-term impacts on their health. PCOS occurs when the ovaries produce excess androgens, hormones typically associated with male characteristics, such as testosterone.
These increased levels alter the usual balance between a woman’s hormones, leading to changes in her menstrual cycle, fertility issues, and other physical symptoms. People with PCOS may experience:
- Irregular or absent periods due to the lack of ovulation caused by hormone imbalance.
- They may gain weight or find it difficult to lose weight despite lifestyle changes like exercise or dieting.
- excessive hair growth (facial hair)
- acne/oily skin,
- thinning of scalp hair/bald patches,
In some cases, multiple cysts form in a person’s ovaries – these are called follicular cysts, which form when an egg does not mature properly nor release from its ovarian sac during normal maturation processes like ovulation. Still, these don’t always occur for everyone with PCOS.
Does PCOS Cause Hair Loss?
Yes, PCOS can cause hair loss, a common symptom of this condition. Patient-reported studies have found that 20-30% of people with PCOS experience hair loss.
Androgenic alopecia, or female pattern baldness, is primarily caused by androgens “male” hormones such as DHT and dihydrotestosterone, which occur in both genders and are responsible for stimulating puberty, libido, and regulating hair growth. With PCOS, however, the levels of these hormones tend to be higher than usual – leading to excessive thinning hair or shedding of scalp hair.
It is important to note that there are also other factors at work behind the development of PCOS-related hair loss beyond just androgen levels – including genetics or heredity traits from either parent that might predispose one to this kind of condition; hence why some women may suffer from more severe forms than others even if they both have similar levels of circulating hormones in their bodies.
In addition, stress can exacerbate underlying issues since physical changes associated with anxiety lower testosterone production, further upset the hormonal balance, and exacerbate existing conditions like PCOS-related baldness even more so.
How PCOS Is Diagnosed
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a complex condition that can manifest in many ways. Unlike other medical conditions, PCOS cannot be diagnosed through one definitive test alone.
Medical experts use a diagnosis of exclusion approach, where PCOS can only be diagnosed after eliminating other possible medical conditions. This process often starts with some critical tests and procedures such as a pelvic exam to evaluate the pelvic organs, hormone tests, blood glucose tests, and an anti-mullerian hormone test.
These essential tests help to detect PCOS and other underlying medical conditions effectively. By working closely with a healthcare provider and taking appropriate tests, individuals with PCOS can receive an accurate medical diagnosis and the appropriate medical care to manage their condition.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome yet, but fortunately, it’s possible to manage its related symptoms effectively through different therapeutic strategies depending upon individual conditions like:
Gently massage your scalp can stimulate the follicles and help promote new growth. Use natural oils like coconut or olive oil to encourage circulation and nourish hair strands.
By shedding extra pounds and maintaining a healthy weight, individuals with PCOS can significantly reduce their androgen levels, which are often elevated in those with the condition. Lower androgen levels not only help to alleviate other PCOS symptoms, but they can also lessen hair loss. Though losing weight can be challenging, the results are well worth the effort, especially for those struggling with PCOS-related hair loss.
Foods high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals are recommended for people with PCOS as they can help regulate hormones. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in salmon or walnuts can aid in reducing inflammation while providing essential nutrients to the body.
Various supplements like Omega-3, Vitamin D, Biotin, Zinc, and Iron have proven to positively impact PCOS-related hair loss. These supplements can provide the necessary nutrients that are essential for hair growth and prevent further hair fall. So, if you’re tired of dealing with hair loss, try incorporating these natural supplements into your routine and embrace healthy, luscious locks again.
Physical activity not only helps to lower blood sugar levels but can also help to regulate hormones, reduce stress levels and even aid in weight loss.
One of the most effective options is to turn to herbs. Nature provides us with countless plants that can help regulate hormones and improve blood circulation to the scalp, leading to healthier hair growth. Some of the best herbs for PCOS hair loss include saw palmetto, stinging nettle, and horsetail. These herbs may be taken as supplements or consumed in tea form.
Oral contraceptives are a common treatment for managing symptoms as they effectively regulate hormones and reduce hair loss. Oral contraceptives have been proven to reduce testosterone production, which helps reduce the presence of excessive androgens in the body that can lead to hair loss.
Some people may require more extensive treatment, such as hair transplantation or scalp reduction surgery. In some cases, laser therapy may also stimulate follicle growth and reduce shedding.
Hair transplantation involves surgically removing hair from the back of the head, which is then implanted on the bald patches. This procedure can benefit those with PCOS-related hair loss and provide natural-looking results.
Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, is a topical treatment applied directly to the scalp and has been shown to promote healthy hair growth. Minoxidil can result in thicker, stronger hair by helping increase blood flow and nourishing the hair follicles.
Antiandrogens are medications that help to reduce the amount of androgen hormones in the body. Depending on the person’s preference, they can be taken orally or applied topically. Antiandrogens can help with PCOS-related hair loss by reducing the levels of testosterone and other androgens in the body, leading to healthier hair growth.
Finasteride and dutasteride
Two medications approved by the FDA for treating hair loss are finasteride, commonly known as Propecia, and dutasteride, known as Avodart. However, it’s important to note that these medications are FDA-approved for use in men for male pattern baldness and male pattern hair loss and may cause unwanted side effects for biologically born women, which can limit their effectiveness.
If you are considering using these medications, it’s essential to consult with your medical provider to ensure they are safe for you to take.
Tips on How to Hide Hair Loss
If you are dealing with hair loss due to PCOS, many tips can help you disguise hair thinning.
- Use a volumizing shampoo and conditioner: Volumizing shampoo and conditioner can help to give your hair a fuller look.
- Try styling tricks like backcombing or teasing: Backcombing or teasing can create an illusion of thicker hair.
- Use accessories to cover up bald spots: Accessories like hats, scarves, headbands, etc., are great for covering up bald patches.
- Dry shampoo: Dry shampoo can help to give your hair an instant boost and make it look fuller without having to use hot styling tools.
- Try scalp camouflage products: Scalp camouflage products, such as sprays or powders, are designed specifically to cover up thinning areas of the scalp.
- Use the right products: Using the right products is vital to helping keep your hair healthy. Look for products specifically designed for PCOS-related hair loss, as they can help nourish and strengthen the hair follicles.
When To See a Healthcare Provider for Hair Loss
Hair loss can be a frustrating and stressful condition to experience, especially when you are unsure of what is causing it. While many at-home remedies can provide temporary relief, there are situations where it is important to seek the advice of a healthcare provider.
If you are dealing with hair loss due to PCOS, getting specialized medical advice on managing your symptoms and identifying any underlying medical issues is important. For those experiencing unexpected hair loss without a diagnosis of PCOS, seeking help from a team of healthcare providers, such as a dermatologist, OB-GYN, or reproductive endocrinologist, can help identify the root cause and develop a personalized treatment plan.
Taking the step to seek professional medical advice can provide peace of mind and lead to effective hair loss management.
Check out Vitamins Revive for hair supplements that stimulate hair growth and hair cosmetics to keep your hair looking healthy.
Will hair loss from PCOS grow back?
For some people, the hair can naturally regrow after treatment of the underlying cause. In other cases, however, it is more likely that hair loss from PCOS will not grow back on its own, and you may need to seek medical or surgical help for it.
What is female pattern hair loss?
Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is a common type of permanent hereditary hair loss that affects millions of women worldwide. It is characterized by a receding hairline and diffuse thinning at the top of the scalp, near the forehead and temples.
How bad can PCOS hair loss get?
The severity of PCOS hair loss can vary from person to person. Some people may experience only mild thinning, while others may have more severe hair loss over a larger scalp area.