Hormones and Women's Hair Loss
There can be complex factors surrounding female hair loss, but hormonal issues are often a trigger. Whether due to the menopause, thyroid disorders or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, thinning or shedding hair may be one of the key signs of underlying problems. If you are suffering from hair loss, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis so that any issues can be addressed using a tailored treatment programme.
During menopause many women find that their hair becomes thinner or falls out while brushing or showering. This can be due to fluctuating hormone levels - in particular a decrease in the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. These are associated with thicker, faster growing hair, and as their levels drop, the hair grows more slowly and becomes thinner. At the same time, there is an increase in sensitivity to male hormones, known as androgens, which can cause the hair follicles to shrink, resulting in hair loss on the scalp. This is the most common type of female hair loss and is known as Female Pattern Hair Loss, or Androgenetic Alopecia.
Thyroid hormones play an important role in how our cells function, including within the hair follicles. When hormone production in the thyroid is disrupted – either through an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) or an over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism) – it can cause the hair to shed, and in many cases become dry and brittle. Hypothyroidism can also result in anaemia, or iron deficiency, another common cause of hair loss. Luckily, once the thyroid condition has been identified and treated, the hair is likely to regrow to its previous thickness and length.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a common hormonal condition affecting the function of the ovaries. It causes the body to produce more male hormones, or androgens, than it should, and symptoms include ovulation problems, acne, excessive facial and bodily hair and hair loss on the head. Hair can start thinning, especially around the parting and crown. Hormone regulation is an important part of the treatment and can include the use of contraceptive pills and other medications to mitigate the effects of androgens.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Many women find that during pregnancy their hair is fuller and more luxuriant. This is due to increased oestrogen levels and greater blood circulation, which prevent the hair from falling out. However, after giving birth hormone levels rapidly decrease and some women experience a significant amount of hair loss at once. This is known as Telogen Effluvium. This can be a distressing phenomenon, but fortunately, in most cases, the hair will restore itself naturally within a few months. However, if the hair loss continues beyond a year after childbirth, it's worth seeking expert help.
How are Hormonal Problems and Hair Loss Conditions Diagnosed?
Dr. Singh will always take a full medical history and carry out a detailed examination of the scalp. She will then order blood tests to determine hormone levels, thyroid function and potential nutritional deficiencies. She will then carry out a clinical examination, including a scalp dermoscopy, a non-invasive process, to giver her a more detailed look at your scalp.
Dr. Singh will also spend time discussing any lifestyle and emotional factors which may be contributing to your problem. Gynaecological assessments, as well as further thyroid investigations and scalp biopsies, may also be ordered as part of a comprehensive diagnostic process.
Can Hormonal Conditions be Treated?
Hormonal problems have complex causes and vary for every woman. That’s why we understand how important a holistic approach is for treating the symptoms. Dr. Singh works with our team of Consultant Gynaecologists, an Endocrinology specialist and a Clinical Psychologist, to offer you a bespoke, and integrated treatment plan. This may include hormone-regulating medication, nutritional guidance and topical creams, as well as dedicated psychological support.
Visiting our clinic
Dr. Singh is one of the UK’s few Consultant Dermatologists who specialises in female hair loss. If you would like to find out more or make an appointment, please call us on 020 724 4200.