Treating Hormonal Hair Loss

women looking distressed at hair loss on brush

Hair loss can be a distressing experience for anyone, but especially women. After all, societal beauty standards promote thick, shiny hair as the ideal. Various factors contribute to hair loss in women, from genetics to allergies. One often overlooked but critical cause of hair loss is hormone imbalance. Hormones play a vital role in hair health and regrowth, so certain deficiencies can lead to shedding, thinning, and even balding. The good news, however, is that hormonal hair loss can be treated and even reversed simply by restoring certain hormone levels. 

How Do Hormones Affect Hair Growth?

Hormones play a pivotal role in regulating neary all bodily functions, including hair growth. Fluctuations or imbalances in hormone levels can impact the hair growth cycle, which involves a carefully regulated system of growing, resting, and shedding. Hormones that can negatively affect the hair growth cycle include:

Estrogen and Hormonal Hair Loss

Among other things, estrogen promotes hair growth and maintains its thickness and health. During pregnancy, elevated estrogen levels often lead to thicker, fuller hair and stronger nails. However, after childbirth or during menopause when estrogen levels drop, hair loss or thinning might occur. 

Hormonal Hair Loss Caused by Low Progesterone

Progesterone is another hormone responsible for myriad functions in the female body. One of these roles is to prevent the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Low progesterone levels can result in higher levels of DHT, which can cause hair follicles to shrink resulting in premature hair loss. This type of hormonal hair loss is often most noticeable around the crown and hairline. 

Thyroid Hormones 

Imbalances in thyroid hormones can impact hair growth by signaling more hair follicles to “rest” during a cycle, which causes thinning due to lack of regrowth to replace shed hairs. A thyroid imbalance can also cause hair to be more brittle and fall out more easily. Thyroid-related hair loss is not limited to the head. You may also see a thinning of the eyebrows. 

Cortisol & Corticosterone

Known as the stress hormone, elevated cortisol levels negatively affect regulation of the hair follicle. Studies have shown that cortisol can reduce the synthesis of certain skin elements, including hyaluron and proteoglycans. This can cause excess shedding and thinning of the hair.

Corticosterone is another adrenal hormone. When present in high levels during periods of stress, it prevents the follicles from secreting GAS6. This is a molecule that activates the hair follicle’s stem cells. Hair remains in a resting period rather than starting a new growth period. 

Insulin’s Role in Hormonal Hair Loss

Diabetes is notorious for contributing to hair loss. In addition to genetics and circulatory issues caused by the disease,  hormonal imbalances related to insulin resistance can also contribute to hormonal hair loss in women. High levels of blood glucose cause hair to fall out more rapidly than it can be replaced, leading to thinness or bald patches. 

Types of Hormonal Hair Loss

There are three main categories of hair loss, each with specific causes and presentation:

  1. Telogen Effluvium: stress or hormonal changes can push a large number of hair follicles into the resting phase prematurely, resulting in increased shedding or thinning across the scalp. You may see large amounts of hair coming out 2-3 months after a very stressful event. This type of hormonal hair loss is not usually permanent and hair will start to regrow within 6 months to a year. 
  1. Androgenetic Alopecia: commonly known as female pattern hair loss, this condition is predominantly influenced by genetics, although hormones can play a role. For example, genetically higher levels of DHT (see above) may contribute to female pattern baldness. This usually presents as a receding hairline or a widening part along the scalp. 
  1. Alopecia Areata: this is an autoimmune disorder that causes sudden hair loss in round patches. While the exact cause remains unclear, hormonal imbalances could potentially trigger the condition. Namely, high levels of stress (i.e. high levels of cortisol and corticosterone) can potentially lead to alopecia areata. People with thyroid disorder are also more likely to develop this type of hormonal hair loss. 

Treating Hormonal Hair Loss

If you are experiencing signs of hair loss and you are unsure of the cause, your first step should be to consult with a functional health care provider. This is because functional medicine will focus on the underlying cause of your hair loss, and not just ways to stimulate hair regrowth. This may include one or more of the following strategies:

  • Blood panels to establish baseline hormone levels
  • Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) to restore any imbalance
  • Screenings for thyroid function and medications to address any issues
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes to manage conditions like diabetes
  • Modifications to help reduce chronic stress levels
  • Medical weight loss solutions to control diabetes and other weight-related concerns
  • Review of possible endocrine disruptors in self-care products and other products

Hormonal Hair Loss Treatment in Omaha

Hormonal imbalances can significantly impact hair growth in women. Understanding the role of various hormones and their effects on the hair growth cycle is essential for proper diagnosis and effective management. Seeking professional guidance and adopting holistic approaches tailored to individual needs can help women address hormonal hair loss and maintain healthy, vibrant hair. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of hormonal hair loss in Omaha, Nebraska, schedule an appointment at Balanced Body Health & Wellness. We offer a full range of medical services aimed at restoring you to your personal best. Call or go online today to get started. A 15-minute phone consultation is free!