Hormonal Hair Loss: Everything You Need to Know
March 07, 2019You should never underestimate the influence of hormones in your body. When these chemical messengers go out of balance, your body functions lose track too – from very important ones like heart rate to seemingly unimportant ones, like, you guessed it: hair growth.
If you are experiencing hair loss, chances are you have a hormonal imbalance, even if you don't know. In this case, not even hair loss products will really help you out unless you tackle it properly. Read on to learn everything about hormonal hair loss and how to deal with it.
What Are Hormones?Hormones are chemical substances secreted by the different glands in the body. You can think of hormones as the "go" signs for many body functions. They work together in a delicate balance, so when one of them starts going off track, others may follow.
The hormones that have a direct or indirect impact on hair growth and hair loss are androgens (male sex hormones), thyroid hormones, cortisol, and estrogen. Types of hair loss from different hormonal imbalances behave differently. The key is finding out which hormone is not working well, and therefore causing hair loss (which never comes alone, but as a companion to other tell-tale symptoms).
How Does Hair Loss Behave According to The Hormone Involved?Androgen hair loss: androgens give way to pattern baldness. In men, this hereditary type of hair loss involves hypersensitivity to DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), a derivate from testosterone that weakens hair follicles. DHT is metabolized by an enzyme called type II 5-alpha-reductase, but when there's too much of it, there is a higher rate of conversion of testosterone into DHT, which in turn, is detrimental to the hair follicles. Male pattern baldness is characterized by an m-shaped hairline since hair starts thinning out progressively from the temples to the top of the head.
In women the process is a little different: DHT does not seem to be the culprit of female pattern baldness. Aromatase, a different enzyme predominant in women, forms estrone and estradiol, other female hormones that counter the effects of DHT. Aromatase is also more abundant in the frontal hairline, which might explain why female pattern baldness is characterized by thinning at the crown and the hairline remaining intact.
In both patterns, there is a process called miniaturization which consists in the gradual reduction of the anagen phase and an increase in the telogen phase. This is when hair becomes finer and the follicle shrinks progressively until it no longer produces hair.
Thyroid hair loss: it usually manifests with diffuse hair thinning, and comes with alterations in heart rate, weight loss or gain, anxiety, and other symptoms. A study showed that hair follicles are affected by T3 and T4 (the thyroid hormones). The hair cycle and hair pigmentation are related to these hormones.
Thyroid-related hair loss becomes evident when you have had this disorder for a long time, and it hasn't been addressed. Once you have received treatment and the hormone levels go back to normal, you can expect your hair growth to resume, usually after the hair growth cycle has synced up. Just keep in mind that at first, your new hair growth might differ a little from what you're used to.
Cortisol hair loss: this is the stress hormone, and as explained in an NCBI study, it has been shown to "reduce synthesis and accelerate the degradation of important skin elements," affecting the hair growth cycle and follicle function. After all, losing your hair from stress is not that far from reality. If apart from hair loss you are also experiencing weight gain or rounding of the face, acne, muscle weakness and extreme fatigue, easy bruising, headaches, high blood pressure, and anxiety or irritability, your cortisol levels might be too high. Low cortisol comes with other symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, unintentional weight loss, salt cravings, lightheadedness, gastrointestinal problems, among others.
Both too much or too little cortisol can have an adverse effect on hair growth. Whether your adrenal glands (the ones that produce cortisol) go into hibernation mode from producing too much cortisol or they cause shortage by prioritizing other hormones over cortisol, a domino effect can be unleashed: testosterone levels might drop, affecting hair growth. This is especially noticeable in women.
Estrogen hair loss: estrogen helps hair growth. When high levels of estrogen are circulating in the blood (for example, during pregnancy), hair becomes thicker, longer, and healthier. High estrogen even makes the anagen (growth) phase longer. But low estrogen levels can end up causing hair loss.
Two ways in which estrogen can cause hair loss are after pregnancy and around menopause. In the first case, the dip in estrogen levels that happens after birth brings all hairs that were in the lengthened anagen phase into their telogen (shedding) phase, causing hair to fall in clumps. This is not anagen hair shedding; it is telogen hair that hadn't been shed because of the higher levels of estrogen keeping it "frozen."
In the second case, the drop in estrogen production during menopause can create the conditions for otherwise normal testosterone levels to prompt a change in the hair growth pattern or cycle and ultimately cause hair thinning. This estrogen plunge can also cause unwanted hair growth (like facial hair).
Other symptoms like painful intercourse, irregular periods, mood swings, breast tenderness, hot flashes, depression, among others, might come with a decrease in estrogen levels and need to be watched out for.
What Can Be Done About Hormonal Hair Loss?The best thing you can do is get a proper diagnose. Unless you get all necessary tests to determine your hormone levels, you cannot tell for sure if your hair loss is related to endocrine dysfunction. Needless to say, it is essential to pay attention to all signs and symptoms that might go along your hair loss and get prompt medical care.
While hormonal imbalances might appear without apparent causes and usually cannot be relieved without hormonal therapy, keeping healthy and balanced habits can't hurt. Keep a healthy weight, a varied and moderate diet, normal blood pressure and sugar levels, and a peaceful, low-stress life.
If you are in search of complementary hair treatment for hormonal hair loss, The Cosmetic Republic USA has just what you need: hair loss solutions to treat thinning hair delicately and bring it back to life. Call TOLL FREE 1-888-513-8815 or fill out the contact form on this website to get in touch with us. Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news about us right in your inbox.
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