Each woman’s birth control experience is different, and while some might start hormonal contraceptives without skipping a beat, for others, the side effects can be downright awful.
Unfortunately, hair loss can be one of those misery-inducing side effects. Keep reading to understand the birth control and hair loss connection — plus, what you can do to stop hair loss and get back to healthy hair ASAP.
How Does Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?
For many forms of birth control to be effective, they rely on hormones to disrupt the menstrual cycle and do the work in preventing pregnancy. The thing about hormones? They can have big impacts on your hair follicles and growth cycles. The hormones present in most hormonal birth control methods are synthetic versions of estrogen and progesterone and/or combinations thereof.
The other important piece of the hormone and hair puzzle to keep in mind is balance. Hormones need a finely tuned balance to keep our bodies running smoothly, and even slight hormonal fluctuations can impact any number of physiological processes, including hair growth. Other common side effects associated with hormonal birth control could include high blood pressure, acne and weight gain, among others.
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The Type Of Birth Control Matters
Some types of contraceptives (like birth control pills, shots, the skin patch and implants) may impact your body differently than a more localized birth control like the intrauterine device or a birth control ring (also called a vaginal ring) might.
And even beyond these broad product groups, each individual product varies, too. We often talk about birth control as a catchall, but each product offers its own formulation. Some birth control products contain synthetic estrogen and progesterone (often in the form of oral contraceptives and often called “combination pills”), and within this group, the balance between the two hormones varies from product to product. Some contain synthetic progesterone only, including progestin-only pills (sometimes called the mini-pill).
Does Birth Control Always Cause Hair Loss?
Hormonal birth control methods are more likely to cause hair loss in women who are especially sensitive to the hormones in the contraceptive or who have a family history of hormone-related hair loss. How your hair responds to the hormones in birth control pills or any other form of birth control is often linked to genetics and the sensitivity of your hair follicles, which varies from person to person.
For some, genetics can cause hair follicles and the androgen receptors within the follicles to be especially sensitive to a group of male hormones called androgens, and this group includes progesterone and its synthetic cousin, the progestin hormone. This is believed to be the underlying cause of androgen-related hair loss. This condition is called androgenetic alopecia and is also known as female pattern hair loss or female pattern baldness. In males, it's called male pattern hair loss or male pattern baldness.
For others, increasing estrogen levels with birth control could stimulate hair growth. If you already have high levels of androgen hormones in the body, as is common in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS), the right birth control could actually help treat hair loss.
And beyond these two cases, each person’s physiology and reaction to the introduction of birth control varies.
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How Can I Stop Hair Loss From Birth Control?
Most often, the type of hair loss associated with birth control is telogen effluvium (TE). Telogen effluvium is a form of sudden hair loss that happens when a shock to the body interrupts the normal hair growth cycle. In the case of birth control-related hair loss, it’s typically the sudden change in hormones that occurs when it’s started. However, TE also can happen when stopping birth control.
Hair grows in predictable cycles, and with telogen effluvium, the sudden change to hormone levels caused by birth control prematurely moves a large number (on average about 30%) of hair follicles into the resting phase of the cycle. During this phase of the hair growth cycle, the follicle stops actively growing hair and rests before shedding. Since this phase lasts for about three months, it takes about that time to actually see shedding start.
“Telogen effluvium is a very common form of hair loss,” said Dr. Rita J. McGuire, a Chicago-based and board-certified OB-GYN with over 30 years of experience. And while it typically resolves once the underlying stress passes or the body adjusts, it can be an ongoing concern. “Telogen effluvium can be delayed, occurring a few months after the stressful incident, or it can become chronic if not resolved," Dr. McGuire said.
Taking all this into account, here are some ways to stop birth control-related hair loss.
Consider Your Medical Options
Talk to your doctor if you think increased hair shedding is caused by your hormonal contraception. They may elect to do some bloodwork and can discuss your options with you. Hair shedding might resolve on its own after your body adjusts to the new hormones, or you can stop your current birth control and try a new formulation. “Consider changing your pill to another formulation with a low androgen index,” advised Dr. Kim Langdon, a board-certified OB-GYN with Parenting Pod. A dermatologist can also advise you on hair loss treatment options.
Consider Your Hair Care Options
Regardless of the medical route you choose, some good news is that there are many things you can do to support your body’s recovery from telogen effluvium and support a return to normal hair growth.
To start, building healthy habits around diet, exercise, sleep and stress management can make a big difference. By supporting your overall health and well-being, you are supporting your hair follicles too. Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to hair loss, as has stress. Try to eat a balanced and varied diet, and consider cortisol-lowering activities like spending time in nature, having a good laugh and meditation.
You might also consider buffing up your hair care routine to help support your follicles and scalp. VEGAMOUR has you covered because we see hair health as a truly holistic endeavor that starts from the inside and can be supported on the outside, too!
Giving your body all it needs on the inside can help support sleek, shiny and strong hair on the outside. Consider GRO Biotin Gummies For Hair, formulated to give you a biotin boost along with all the other vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy head of hair and a healthy you. Or you add the soothing, calming power of CBD to your daily supplement game with our GRO+ Advanced Gummies.
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Introducing any new medication — including the birth control pill or any hormonal contraceptive — to your body can cause a sudden shift that might trigger hair loss in a temporary form of hair loss called telogen effluvium. The best way to stop hair loss related to birth control is to talk with your doctor and explore other formulations or options for hormonal contraceptives. For example, nonhormonal options like the copper IUD are available to prevent pregnancy.
Additionally, support a return to normal hair growth by taking a holistic approach to your general health and well-being, including using gentle, natural and effective hair wellness products to your hair care routine.
More From VEGAMOUR
- Experts Discuss The Connection Between Hair Loss & Birth Control
- Hair Loss After Stopping Birth Control? This Might Be Why
- Can an IUD Cause Hair Loss?
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