Can Hair Loss From PCOS Be Reversed?
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a chronic condition that causes women to produce excess levels of androgens including testosterone, which is also called the “male” hormone. In some cases, PCOS can lead to diabetes and heart conditions, and may interfere with a woman’s menstrual cycle and ability to conceive.
For many women with PCOS, one of the most troublesome syndromes of this condition is hair loss, often along the temples or on the scalp. This hair loss can be somewhat subtle, with a woman only noticing a few thin spots or that her hair doesn’t fill out a hair tie as it once did, or in some cases, a woman might actually lose handfuls of hair in the shower or while brushing.
Hair loss from PCOS is not necessarily a sign of another serious health concern, but it can still be a problem for women who are self-conscious about their thinning hair. If you have hair loss from PCOS, note some vital information about how to address this issue and even reverse your hair loss symptoms.
What Causes Hair Loss With PCOS?
It’s helpful to understand what causes hair loss in general, as well as hair loss due to PCOS, so you know the best way to treat this condition and know to avoid otherwise ineffective solutions. First note that a person’s hair growth is determined by their genetics but also by their overall nutrition, their stress levels, and the hormones they produce.
It’s not unusual to lose over 100 hairs per day, but the body naturally goes through a type of turnover process where those hairs are replaced by new hair. Male hormones tend to interfere with this turnover process and hair growth, which is why men get thinning hair or go outright bald far more often than women!
In turn, when a woman’s system is producing an overabundance of androgens, the male hormones, her hair may become thin or brittle, and begin to fall out without being immediately replaced. This may happens to women right after childbirth, who take certain birth control pills, who are menopausal, and who have PCOS, as these all cause hormone imbalances in her system.
Protecting Your Hair From Thinning
Protecting your hair from thinning and encouraging healthy hair growth can help with hair loss due to PCOS, and ensure you experience as much new hair growth as possible. Note some tips for protecting your hair from thinning in general, so you know you’re doing everything possible to avoid hair loss from PCOS:
- Omega acids help to keep the skin of the scalp healthy so that hair can grow quickly. Be sure you include tuna, mackerel, salmon, olive oil, avocado oil, and other sources of omegas in your diet, or take a daily omega supplement.
- Biotin is a B vitamin that is essential for healthy hair growth. Consider taking a biotin supplement to protect your hair from thinning.
- Keratin is a protein that makes up hair and nails. If your fingernails are brittle and often split, chip, and crack, consider a daily keratin supplement to protect both your nails and your hair!
- Harsh shampoos can dry your scalp and interfere with healthy hair growth. Switch to a nourishing shampoo and conditioner in one, and see a dermatologist if you have dandruff rather than using a drying shampoo for this condition.
- Apple cider vinegar and baking soda will lift and remove residues from hair care products, keeping your scalp healthy. Apply the two directly to your hair and let them sit for several minutes, then wash your hair as normal.
- Nourishing oils also keep your scalp healthy so that you can grow hair again naturally. Massage your hair and scalp with vitamin E oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil; put on a shower cap so the oils can be absorbed over several minutes, then wash your hair as usual.
- Using an overly hot hair dryer will dry the skin of your scalp and interfere with hair growth. Use the cool setting of your dryer and be sure you keep it several inches from your scalp when in use.
Tips for Controlling Hormones
Since hair loss from PCOS is specifically related to your body’s hormone production, it’s good to consider how to keep your hormones balanced. It’s important to talk to your doctor about all the symptoms of PCOS that are bothering you, so that you can find solutions together and find ways to keep your hormones in balance.
Your hormone balance is also closely tied to your lifestyle: For example, note that your sleep/wake cycles are controlled by the hormones melatonin and serotonin. If you don’t get enough sleep every night, this can interfere with your ability to produce these hormones and others like it, including estrogen that encourages healthy hair growth. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, make sure to mention it to your doctor or seek help from a healthcare professional that is dedicated to sleep.
Stress also raises your levels of cortisol, a hormone that can interfere with healthy hair growth. Consider ways of managing stress, including yoga, exercise, meditation, seeing a counselor, and other such practical steps for stress management. Regular, healthy sleep also keeps stress at bay, which is another reason to ensure you get plenty of sleep when suffering from hair loss due to PCOS.
Reversing Hair Loss Due to PCOS
Not all home remedies will effectively reverse hair loss due to PCOS, since many topical or homemade remedies are not strong enough to reverse the damage done by excessive testosterone. However, a woman might try topical minoxidil, otherwise known as Rogaine, which encourages hair growth no matter the reason for hair loss. Minoxidil is typically available over the counter, but note that you need to use it continuously to encourage hair growth.
Androgen blocking medication can also help reverse hair loss from PCOS. These medications can also help with other symptoms related to PCOS, including menstrual irregularities and infertility. Only your doctor can determine if you’re a candidate for androgen blocking medications and other medications. If you’re suffering from severe hair loss or other symptoms of PCOS, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your healthcare provider.