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Hormones and Hair Loss: Understanding the Link

Hormones and Hair Loss: Understanding the Link

Hair loss patterns differ in men compared with women, but by the time they turn 50, at least half of all men and women have significant hair loss caused by a hormone-related problem. 

At Allure DermatologyTheresa Durchhalter, DO, FAAD, improves your appearance with personalized treatments that restore hair growth, no matter which hormone is at the root of the problem. Keep reading to learn how hormones influence hair loss.

Hormones and hereditary hair loss

Androgenetic alopecia, better known as male- and female-pattern hair loss, is responsible for most hair loss in men and women. The condition occurs when a genetic variation makes your hair follicles overly sensitive to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT is an androgen (male hormone) with an important role in the sexual development of people assigned male at birth. But it also affects your hair follicles if you have androgenetic alopecia.

At first, the follicles shrink and grow new hair that’s thinner and shorter. Over time, they stop producing new hair, and you experience hair loss.

Male-pattern baldness causes a receding hairline and hair loss on the top of your head. The thinning and hair loss may begin in one or both locations and gradually progress until there’s no hair left on the top of your scalp.

By comparison, female-pattern hair loss leads to thinning over the entire scalp, rarely causing obvious bald areas.

Hormones affecting hair loss

Estrogen, androgens (other than DHT), thyroid hormones, insulin, and cortisol can all contribute to hair loss, some only in women and others in men and women. 

Estrogen

Women experience a dramatic decrease in estrogen production at menopause and after they deliver a baby. A similar effect may occur when you stop taking birth control pills.

The sudden loss of estrogen forces your hair follicles to go into a resting phase. As a result, much of your hair starts falling out at one time.

Hair follicles go through natural cycles, growing hair for years, then entering a brief resting phase before returning to a growth phase. When a follicle rests, its hair falls out. 

During a normal hair-growth cycle, 10% to 15% of your hair follicles are in a resting phase at one time. This causes a small number of hairs to shed every day.

But when estrogen levels suddenly drop, and many follicles go into a resting phase at the same time, you experience significant hair thinning.

Androgen imbalance

Women naturally produce a small amount of another androgen, testosterone. They need some testosterone to keep their reproductive system, heart, bones, and muscles healthy.

However, conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) cause women to have higher testosterone levels than normal. In some women, high testosterone causes hair loss at the hairline and thinning throughout their scalp.

Thyroid hormones

Among their many essential roles, thyroid hormones contribute to the health and maintenance of hair follicles. An imbalance in thyroid hormones, whether too high or low, forces the hair follicles to enter the resting stage too early.

This condition, telogen effluvium, affects women and men, causing up to 70% of your scalp hairs to fall out over the course of two months.

Insulin

High insulin levels in women (usually caused by insulin resistance and diabetes) lead to high testosterone levels. This causes the same hair loss as women with PCOS.

Cortisol

Cortisol levels rise when you’re under stress, then return to normal when you relax. When stress becomes a constant or frequent problem, your cortisol levels remain higher than normal. High cortisol has a widespread effect on your health, including causing hair loss.

High cortisol levels put your hair follicles into an extended resting state, preventing the follicle from regenerating and returning to a growth phase.

Treating hair loss

We help you overcome hair loss with hormone treatment when needed. We also specialize in natural platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments that rejuvenate the hair follicle and promote new, thicker hair growth.

Call Allure Dermatology today or book an appointment online if more hair than usual comes out in your brush or if you have noticeably thinning hair.

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