Estrogen describes a number of female sex hormones primarily made in the ovaries. Estrogen responsible for your female physical traits and characteristics, having the opposite role of the male hormone testosterone. Although men do have some estrogen and women have some testosterone, for the most part, the primary hormone’s levels block out the effects of the opposite sex hormones.
In women, estrogen has a few key roles in the body, including:
- Regulating your menstrual cycle
- Reducing muscle mass
- Promoting hair growth on your head
- Controlling height
- Reducing body hair
- Preventing depression
Estrogen is extremely important to our physical and emotional well-being.
How Estrogen and Hair Loss Are Connected
Estrogen slows your hair’s growing stage, also known as the anagen phase, of the hair growth cycle. This means that your hair could be in the growing stage at any time, a big reason why women generally have more hair than men.
Remember that high estrogen levels override the effects of testosterone. This means that it can help prevent the hair loss that is naturally associated with the male hormone. In fact, studies show that estrogen can even stimulate new hair growth.
Estrogen’s effect on hair loss is most evident during pregnancy. Higher concentrations of estrogen give women thicker, healthier hair than normal during pregnancy and when women are breastfeeding.
Low Estrogen and Hair Loss
While pregnancy encourages hair growth due to higher estrogen levels, lower estrogen levels can have the opposite effect.
Low estrogen levels are most common during menopause, but it can happen to women at any age. As estrogen levels decline, the greater influence of testosterone shortens the growth phase, and the subsequent hair loss is usually gradual but can become noticeable over time. Hair loss caused by changing estrogen levels tends to be visible all over the scalp or evident in a widening part, rather than missing patches of hair or a horseshoe pattern as with male pattern baldness.
It’s common for women to experience shedding hair after pregnancy. Usually, this is in response to estrogen levels returning to normal, shedding the extra hair grown during pregnancy. Usually, the hair will return to the same thickness it was before you got pregnant. New moms who are not breastfeeding should consider taking hair growth vitamins post-pregnancy too to balance out their hair growth cycle.
Estrogen is a powerful hormone in a woman’s body, and an excess amount may lead to estrogen dominance. And women may have too much estrogen in relation to progesterone as a result of perimenopause hormone fluctuations or if they are obese.
Your body normally breaks down estrogen and uses it before it can build up to high levels. But when our bodies produce too much estrogen while having too little progesterone, and we aren’t able to metabolize it quickly enough, the imbalance can lead to problems like depression, fatigue or hair loss.
Solutions for Estrogen Hair Loss
There are a variety of natural and medicated solutions to combat hair loss caused by estrogen. If you think you’re losing hair due to a hormonal imbalance, first have your levels tested to find out if you have too little or too much estrogen.
If you have a case of estrogen dominance, you can help bring your levels down to normal by keeping your gut healthy and avoiding refined carbohydrates like white bread and white rice. Also, avoid eating any meat that has been treated with hormones. If you have low levels of estrogen, solutions include minimizing your stress, practicing a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
Whether you’re experiencing low or high estrogen levels, it would be wise to tackle the problem as soon as you notice it. With normalizing hormone levels and your doctor’s advice, your hair growth can return to normal in no time.