PCOS can have various hormonal impacts, including hair changes. Learn how to identify, prevent, and treat hair loss from PCOS.
PCOS is a common condition for women, with up to 5-10% of women of childbearing age having PCOS.
Anyone familiar with PCOS may first think of the effects like irregular and painful menstrual cycles, or unwanted facial growth. But, PCOS can have significant effects on your hair as well, including excess shedding, thinning, and loss of hair.
Below, we will cover the basics of the connection between PCOS and hair loss, how you can help prevent changes to your hair while dealing with PCOS, and what medications might help maintain and regrow your hair.
At its core, the effects of PCOS stem from a hormone imbalance. Specifically, higher levels of testosterone than normal are found in women with PCOS.
Higher levels of testosterone can have significant effects on the hair on the body. On the face, neck, and chest, women may find more hair than usual, this is a condition called hirsutism. And, on the scalp, the hair may thin from the crown or over the entire scalp.
The hair thinning seen with PCOS tends to be a diffuse thinning over the scalp, first showing up as a widening part. This kind of hair loss is often referred to as female pattern hair loss, and it is unusual for this to progress to full balding like is seen with male pattern hair loss. However, sometimes the hairline will change as well, more in line with male pattern hair loss.
The connection between excess testosterone and hair loss is known -- testosterone can be converted into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and DHT can cause damage to the hair follicles, making them produce thinner and short strands or stop the production altogether.
Due to the higher levels of testosterone in women dealing with PCOS, the subsequent DHT produced can lead to these hair losses.
The best way to help prevent hair loss when you have PCOS, is to be diligent about the medications prescribed to you by your doctor. Many of the medications used for PCOS help to regulate your hormones and lower excess testosterone, so they can help maintain your hair as well.
Losing weight if you are overweight may also help reduce your testosterone levels and help maintain your hair, while potentially helping with your other PCOS symptoms too.
Healthy eating and avoiding overly processed, fried, foods with white flour and sugar, and fast foods may help with your overall hair health and severity of your PCOS as well.
Spironolactone is a medication that is commonly prescribed in conjunction with oral contraceptives to help treat PCOS. Spironolactone is an anti-androgen medication and may also help reduce testosterone levels enough to help prevent more hair loss and give hair a chance to grow back.
Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine) is an over-the-counter medication that is FDA approved for female pattern hair loss, and may help increase the blood flow to the follicles to help them regrow hair. This may be paired with your anti-androgen medications to give your hair a head start to regrow. It should be noted that hair gains from Minoxidil may revert once the medication is stopped.
Sometimes prescription hair loss medications may be prescribed off-label for women with PCOS who are experiencing hair loss, including Finasteride. These medications are called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors and they work by blocking the enzyme which converts testosterone into DHT which is damaging the hair follicles. However, these medications are not FDA approved for use in women, and if your doctor does decide to use them a birth control medication must also be used as these medications can cause birth defects in a growing fetus.
Here at Strut Health, we carry a variety of prescription hair loss medications for men and women, and can be made specifically for a wide range of hair loss causes.
You can have a free online questionnaire and image-based consultation with our doctors to see if a topical hair loss medication containing Minoxidil and Spironolactone together may be a good option for your hair loss.
If you are a good candidate for treatment, your prescription can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping. If you have any questions during your treatment, our staff and doctors are available for free unlimited follow-ups.