The Link Between Hormones And Hair Growth
Basically, because birth control pills alter hormone levelswhich have a huge impact on the hair growth cycle, they have the potential to affect the growth of your hair. Although the pill may not affect hair growth at all, if it does, the changes can be positive or negative. How a BCP will affect your scalp hair, if at all, depends on what synthetic hormones it contains and whether it is oestrogenic or androgenic. Oestrogens can be considered hair friendly they help to keep strands in their anagen phase for their maximum length of time. Androgens can have the opposite effect, explains Anabel.
Again, whether or not the pill will effect you is dependent on your individual genetic makeup. For instance, if you have a strong genetic predisposition that causes hair follicles on your scalp to be sensitive to normal levels of androgens , androgenic BCPs have a high potential of having a negative impact on your hair growth. On the other hand, Oestrogenic BCPs can be helpful for those with follicle sensitivity. In fact, certain birth control pills, such as Yasmin and Dianette, are often prescribed to help with hair density changes, adds Anabel.
How Going Off Oral Birth Control Might Affect Your Hair & Skin
Going on or off oral birth control pills is a personal choiceone that people make for a variety of reasons that are certainly not anyone else’s business! Not to mention, there are many options available for birth control, each with its own unique formulas that influence the body and hormones in a variety of ways. And of course, our bodies themselves are highly individualized and may be influenced by said changes in birth control vastly differently.
This is why I find it challenging to write about skin and hair changes within the context of hormonal birth control. What one person experiences will not hold true for the rest: There are simply too many variables.
That being said, there are some similar concerns I tend to get asked about more than others. Most notably? Acne flare-ups and hair loss.
How Birth Control Pills Work
Birth control pills prevent pregnancy in a few different ways. Most pills contain man-made forms of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Normally, a rise in estrogen causes a mature egg to leave the ovaries during a womans menstrual cycle. This is called ovulation.
Birth control pills stop the surge in estrogen that causes an egg to be released. They thicken the mucus around the cervix, making it harder for sperm to swim up to the egg.
Birth control pills also change the lining of the uterus. If an egg does get fertilized, it usually cant implant and grow due to this change.
The following forms of birth control also release hormones into your body to stop ovulation and prevent a pregnancy:
- weight gain
- weight loss
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How Birth Control Pills Influence Hair Loss And Growth
Since birth control pills alter hormone levels, they have the potential to mess around with your skin and hair. First things first, it depends on the pill youre taking. The synthetic hormones in it can be either oestrogenic, in which case they help to keep hair in their growth phase for a longer period, or androgenic, which can reduce this time period considerably, explains Dr Mahesh Chavan, consultant, endocrinology, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.
An increase in androgens will lead to thinning of hair, which could then result in female pattern hair loss . If you already have high androgens in the body, which is common in the cases of PCOD and PCOS, taking the right pill can not only treat the concern, but also help with female pattern hair loss by increasing the oestrogen in the body. Furthermore, it can reduce hair growth on the face as well, says Dr Reshma Vishnani, consultant dermatologist, trichologist and aesthetic dermatologist, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
Still, it all depends on your genetic makeup. If youre genetic predisposed to having sensitive hair follicles on your scalp, androgenic oral contraceptives might have a negative impact on hair growth. So if you were to have female pattern baldness at the age of forty, it will unmask earlier, says Dr Vishnani. However, this also works the other way roundif you take oestrogenic pills, they may actually help improve hair density and growth considerably.
Hair Loss And Stopping The Pill
Stopping the birth control pill can cause temporary hair shedding in any woman, regardless of her genetic predisposition and follicle sensitivity. Coming off of a contraceptive pill can result, although not always, in a type of post-partum shedding, which is caused by a sudden drop in oestrogen. Try not to worry though this is only short-term shedding and all the hair you lose will grow back. While your hair may start to fall out after stopping the pill or being diagnosed with PCOS, its important to remember that hair loss may not be a direct result of these. It can often be caused by different factors such as diet or stress or a combination of underlying issues.
Please note: Always consult your doctor or gynaecologist before changing, starting or stopping any contraceptive pill
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How Is Hirsutism Diagnosed
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination to determine the extent of the abnormal hair growth, as well as any other physical signs that may be accompanying the hair growth, such as acne.
If your hair growth is diagnosed as hirsutism, your doctor may perform a variety of tests, including blood tests to check hormone levels, ultrasound to visualize the ovaries and uterus, certain X-rays and additional tests to evaluate your ovaries and adrenal glands, in order to rule out other conditions.
Negative Effects Of The Contraceptive Pill On The Hair
Certain contraceptive pills can worsen or cause hair loss. This, again, is down to the sensitivity of your hair follicles and your genetic predisposition.
Pills like Levonorgestrel, Norethisterone and Gestidone contain androgens. So if you have follicular sensitivity to male hormones, these pills arent always the best choice.
If you have noticed a change in the density of your hair, increased scalp hair shedding, or facial hair growth since starting an oral contraceptive, please consult with your gynaecologist and a hair loss specialist such as Simone Thomas.
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Can Birth Control Can Protect Against Other Conditions Too
Birth control pills can also help with a wide range of other conditions, from anemia to hair loss.
Heavy periods may make you prone to anemia due to the amount of blood lost. When youre anemic, you dont have enough red blood cells to carry healthy amounts of oxygen throughout your body.
Anemia can make you feel tired, weak and even out of breath. By lightening your period or making you skip it altogether, the pill can reduce the amount of blood loss and alleviate anemia symptoms.
If you have certain types of hair loss or excessive hair growth , birth control pills can be a surprising treatment. They regulate the amount of androgens, male hormones, in your body. Keeping androgen levels within normal range may also help hair growth return to normal levels.
Birth control pills can also help with many other painful conditions, like migraines, mood swings and polycystic ovary syndrome . If youre not sure whether birth control will help you, read more about when to talk to your doctor about painful period symptoms.
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Birth Control Pills As Treatment For Female Pattern Hair Loss
Just as progesterone dominant BCPs can facilitate female pattern hair loss, oral contraceptives higher in estrogen can stimulate hair growth by prolonging the anagen phase of the growth cycle. A problem is that estrogen dominant birth control pills have a greater incidence of certain side effects. Your gynecologist should advise you on which BPCs should be used in your particular situation.
The newer oral contraceptives such as Yasmin, Yaz, Desogen, Mircette, Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo have lower androgenetic effects and are useful in patients concerned about hair loss. In particular, Yaz and Yasmin contain the progestin drospirenone, which has anti-androgen properties, and can therefore be particularly helpful in women experiencing female pattern hair loss.
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How Does Birth Control Work
Hormonal birth control prevents pregnancy by reducing, or stopping, ovulation. Ovulation is the release of the egg from the ovary. As well, hormonal birth control can thicken the mucus around the cervix, which makes it harder for the sperm to reach the egg.
The hormones found in birth control can sometimes affect the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for the egg to attach to the uterine wall.
High Vs Low Androgen/androgenic Estrogen/estrogenic Progestin Etc Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills that contain a high androgenic/low estrogenic pattern include: Alesse, Estrostep FE, Levlen, Loestrin 1.5/30, Loestrin 1/20 Fe, Ovral.
Birth control pills that contain a higher estrogen, higher progestin and lower androgen potency include: Demulen 1/50, Desogen, Ortho-Cept, Ovcon 50. Yasmin, Zovia 1/50E, Estrostep Fe.
Birth control pills that contain lower estrogen, higher progestin, higher androgen potency include: Demulen 1/35, Levlen, Levora, Loestrin 1.5/30, Loestrin 1/20 Fe, LoOvral, Nordette, Zovia 1/35E
Others: Brevicon, Mircette, Modicon, Necon, Otho-Cyclen, Ortho-TriCyclen, Yasmin.
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Birth Control And Hair Loss: Is It Permanent
No, birth control hair loss is not permanent.
As with most types of hormone-related hair loss in women, shedding as a result of starting, stopping, or switching your birth control can be delayed up to three months. Three months is the length of a normal hair growth cycle, so thinning hair actually reflects hormonal changes from several months earlier.
How To Minimize Birth Control Hair Loss
Luckily, hair loss from birth control pills is usually temporary. Your hair should stop falling out in a few months as your body gets used to the new levels of hormones.
If your hair loss continues to be an issue, ask your doctor about other contraceptive options. If you have a history or a family history of hormonal hair loss, consider asking your doctor about using a non-hormonal form of birth control.
If you dont want to change your birth control, do not stress. There are simple tips and tricks you can follow to get thicker and healthier-looking hair .
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How Long Does Hair Loss Last After Stopping Birth Control
Any birth control-related hair loss should have finished roughly six months after stopping birth control pills.
Immediately after stopping birth control, it is common for a lot of hair to fall out all at once. This is due to telogen effluvium, the hormonal stress of coming off the pill. As the hormones return to their original levels, this can cause a mass shedding of the hair, which will enter back into the growing phase soon after.
It is important to note that most women will not experience any hair loss after stopping their birth control medication.
Can Birth Control Change Your Hair
Birth control pills can trigger hair loss in most women. Those with sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations are prone to experience shedding once they start using the pills. Even those who do not have problems with hair loss or alopecia will notice some thinning when they are starting or have stopped taking the pills. This is not typically permanent, but those with hormonal issues should be aware of the risk that comes with the pill.
Due to various triggers and factors, your hair may take a while to regrow and become voluminous once again. Some women even consider getting permanent hair extensions due to this condition. If you are worried about the changes happening to your hair, you may consult your doctor for medications or methods that will help you deal with the condition.
There are medications that your doctor can prescribe for you such as minoxidil and finasteride. You may also try other methods to help stimulate hair growth such as the use of mineral oils and massage.
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Types Of Birth Control Pills That Wont Make You Go Bald
When a connection is made between birth control and balding, the American Hair Loss Association suggests women use birth control pills that are low-androgen based, like desogestrel-ethinyl estradiol. If the balding becomes more severe or doesnt improve after a few months, a non-hormonal contraceptive may be a better option.
Get The Most Out Of That Little Pill
Birth control pills have been around for decades, and they do a lot more than just prevent pregnancy. Millions of women use birth control pills to help manage painful period symptoms and other conditions. And with several formulas available, finding the right contraceptive for you is easier than ever.
Whether youre on the pill and wondering if a different one would be more effective, or this would be your first time, make an appointment with an OB-GYN or certified nurse-midwife to get help selecting the right pill for you.
OB-GYNs and midwives are experts in womens health making them experts in birth control, too. You can also make an appointment with a primary care doctor.
Ready to get on the pill? Were ready to help.
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Shbg And Our Hormones
When progesterone levels become lowered by hormonal contraceptives, it can allow our estrogen levels to climb. Additionally, many forms of hormonal contraceptives contain estrogens further raising our levels of these hormones. High levels of estrogens increase our SHBG levels which will then bind to androgens essentially inactivating them by making them unavailable to our tissues. So, high SHBG results in low free testosterone.
At the time that they stop using hormonal contraceptives, many women may find that they have low levels of progesterone, low levels of androgens , and high levels of estrogens.
As great as it would be to be able to discontinue hormonal contraceptives and have our bodys hormones to instantly return to normal, this is typically never the case. Hormonal contraceptives typically take months for our body to clear and sometimes longer for our hormones to achieve balance. Some women may even experience chronic hormone imbalances, including persistently high levels of SHBG.
With healthy progesterone levels still lagging, our levels of the enzyme 5a-reductase can still be elevated after we get off of hormonal contraceptives. If our previously elevated levels of SHBG decrease, this means that less androgens will be bound and inactivated. That decrease of SHBG coupled with the high levels of 5a-reductase can lead to what is known as androgen rebound as more potent androgens are being produced and less of them are being bound and inactivated.