This article was originally published in December 2014. However, we have received many responses from our readers who found it helpful. Here we go, this is the updated content with more useful info for 2016!
Common Causes of Hormone Imbalance-Related Hair Loss
Can hormone imbalance cause hair loss? For women, hormone imbalance is actually the #1 cause of hair thinning and hair loss issues. The female body maintains a very delicate balance of chemicals and hormones, a harmony that is necessary to keep the body functioning optimally. Certain life events, hereditary hormone levels, and medication impacting hormone levels can lead to hair loss. Examples include:
- Imbalanced progesterone and estrogen levels
- Overproduction of androgens
- Under- or over-performing thyroid
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Birth control
- Other medications
Hair Loss Due to Estrogen Hormone Imbalance
Can hormone imbalance cause hair loss or thinning? Imbalanced estrogen can cause thinning hair in women. Estrogen can become imbalanced due to normal hormonal fluctuations at different times in our lives and due to factors such as perimenopause (pre-menopause) or menopause, weight gain or exposure to toxic endocrine disruptors (which can be found in plastic products, and sometimes in our water or food). During pregnancy, our estrogen levels peak. This can account for pregnant women’s enviable hair thickness and growth. But post-pregnancy, you can see hair loss due to the sudden drop in estrogen levels. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as well as anorexia nervosa and extreme over-exercising can also impact estrogen levels.
How to Prevent Hair Loss during Menopause
During perimenopause and menopause, the natural but extreme declines in estrogen levels can cause hair loss for many women between the ages of 40 and 55. Perimenopause is the transitional period prior to menopause when the first natural reduction in estrogen levels occurs. On average, menopause begins at age 51. During menopause, women’s bodies produce even less estrogen, which can cause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and yes, even hair loss.
DHT Hormone in Women and Hair Loss
Male hormones have vital functions in a woman’s body. However, too many male hormones can cause problems. Most troublesome to women is testosterone; in particular, a potent form of the hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Some DHT in women is common, but women with high levels of androgens or low levels of estrogen (which helps to balance the effects of DHT), have an increased likelihood of hair loss because their body produces more testosterone that can be converted into DHT. DHT hair loss occurs because DHT binds to receptors in hair follicles, shrinking the follicles and making it extremely difficult for hair to survive and for new hair to grow.
Women need the right balance of not only estrogen, but testosterone as well. If a woman has too much testosterone, it can lead to hair growth on her face, neck or chest. And it can lead to thinning hair on her head or even hair loss. So does DHT cause hair loss in women? Yes, excess DHT hormone in women and hair loss is rather common. DHT hormone hair loss can be tempered, however. Supplements can be enormously beneficial in this regard. Those with high DHT levels should opt for a supplement that contains DHT inhibitors or other anti-androgens, which block the cell membranes from accepting excess levels of DHT. Supplements paired with exercise and a diet rich in antioxidants can help reduce DHT levels. Additionally, lowering stress can have positive effects.
Other Hormonal Imbalances and Hair Fall in Women
Fluctuating thyroid hormone levels can also lead to hair fall. When the body is under physical stress from any kind of abnormal functioning, such as thyroid hormone imbalances, any non-critical functions such as hair growth or nail growth are among the first processes to be affected. While your body attempts to do critical work, such as balancing your hormones, your hair may become thin and dull, and your nails may weaken and break more easily. For this reason, low thyroid levels can cause hair fall and thinning hair in women as they age.
What is the link between hair loss and hormonal imbalance? There is a profound link between hormones and hair loss in women, especially during already significant transitional life stages, such as post-pregnancy or menopause. Many women also experience hair loss due to natural hormonal imbalances. With the right treatments, such as hair growth supplements and lifestyle changes, women can help mitigate the effects of hormonal imbalances that can lead to hair loss and promote existing hair growth.