If you are on a birth control medication and you are experiencing hair thinning or hair loss, look no further. It is likely that we both know who the culprit could be.
Just like other drugs, hormonal birth control methods have side effects. One of them is the thinning and loss of hair. This might even continue after the person has stopped using birth control.
Birth control as the name implies are measures taken to prevent conception or to balance hormones in the body.
This article will talk about the birth control methods, how they function, their connection to hair loss, and how to stop hair loss from birth control.
Watch a video on this topic below:
What Are the Birth Control Methods?
There are two broad types of birth control methods. They are hormonal and non-hormonal birth control methods.
Non-hormonal birth control methods do not contain hormones and are quite effective if used properly. The non-hormonal methods are condoms, diaphragm, birth control sponge, diaphragm, copper IUD and cervical cap.
Hormonal birth control methods contain hormones, progestin, and estrogen. Some contain only progestin. They are dependable and safe when used in the prevention of pregnancy.
These methods are birth control pills, injections, skin patches, vaginal rings, and implants.
How the Hormonal Birth Control Function?
Hormonal contraceptives contain little quantity of hormones that perform different functions to prevent pregnancy. These functions are:
- Prevention of the production of hormones that bring about ovulation
- Thickening of the cervical mucus to prevent the movement of sperm to the egg
- Thinning the wall of the uterus (womb) making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.
How Hormonal Birth Control Methods Cause Hair Loss
VIDEO: Birth Control and Natural Hair Loss
This video explains how hormonal birth control methods can cause hair loss and how to regrow hair.
Hormonal birth control methods such as the pill or the implant can cause significant loss of hair in women that are hormone-sensitive or are genetically susceptible to hormone-induced loss of hair.
Hair growth occurs in cycles. The cycles of hair growth are the anagen, catagen and the telogen phase.
The anagen phase is the period when active hair growth occurs. The hair grows out from the follicle in this phase and it can last up to 7 years.
The catagen phase is the phase when the hair growth process becomes transitional. The rate of hair growth slows down drastically or stops entirely at this stage. This lasts for 20-25 days.
The telogen phase is a period of rest for the hair. There is no occurrence of hair growth at this phase.
Hair loss occurs but minimally. About 100 strands of hair can be lost daily at this phase. This phase lasts for about 90 days.
Hormonal birth control can quickly move the hair growth phase from the catagen phase to the telogen phase. This is regarded to as telogen effluvium.
A large quantity of hair could be lost especially if there is a history of baldness in the person’s family or there a swap from a type of hormonal birth control to another.
Remedy to Hair Loss from Birth Control
There are different methods that could be used to treat hair loss. Some of these methods are topicals such as Minoxidil, hormone therapy, and hair transplants.
Changes in lifestyle and the consumption of healthy diets can also enhance the growth and maintenance of hair.
This is a topical medication, sold over the counter as Rogaine, which can be applied to the scalp to induce hair growth.
It can be used by both men and women to combat hair loss. It stimulates the hair follicle to grow hair more and for longer. It also lengthens the anagen phase of hair growth, leading to thicker hair and the reduction of bald patches.
Rogaine is sold in two different concentrations depending on the intended results. The 2% concentrated solution is to be applied twice daily. The 5% concentration solution is to be applied once daily.
Studies, however, show that the 2% concentration solution was quite effective in the treatment of female pattern baldness also known as androgenetic alopecia.
It is advised that Rogaine should be used continuously even when hair regrowth occurs. Research showed that the hair that grows from the effects of Minoxidil tends to fall off after 5-6 months of discontinued use.
Applying Rogaine on the neck, ears, and face could lead to hair growth in these areas. There might be cases of hair loss during the first 2-3 months of use and stops as soon as the growing hair becomes fuller and stronger.
The side effects of Minoxidil are mild and uncommon. The most reported cases are skin allergies and irritation due to the alcohol present in the medication.
Changing from one Rogaine brand to another could also make the irritations more pronounced.
If the hair loss is caused by hormonal imbalance due to the use of a birth control pill, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or menopause, the introduction of an anti-androgen or hormone replacement therapy could help.
Hormone replacement therapy varies and depends on the hormone causing the hair loss. When the level of the hormone is brought back to normal, hair loss could be drastically reduced.
This is usually done in combination with other hair growth regimes such as medications, scalp massages and change in diet.
Antiandrogens such as spironolactone are used to reduce the production of androgen by the body. Androgen is produced mainly by women with PCOS and it leads to rapid hair loss.
It is always important to seek the help of a doctor before undergoing hormone therapy since it could cause a lot of discomforting side effects.
This is an antifungal shampoo used to treat hair loss that occurs in patches due to inflammation of the hair follicles.
It is also known to improve the texture, color, and strength of the hair. It can be bought under the trade name of Nizoral which is made with a low dose of ketoconazole. Higher concentration can be used after seeking proper medical advice.
They are also referred to as steroids and are used to treat hair loss. It could be used as a topical, injections or tablets depending on the severity of the hair loss and the site.
Injections are used for very severe cases while topicals are suitable for localized areas such as the eyebrows.
Corticosteroids help in the prevention of hair and the regrowth of hair by reducing the inflammation at the hair loss areas. It also suppresses the immune system in situations where the hair is caused by autoimmune conditions.
Some hair care products may contain corticosteroids in minimal quantities. However, steroids such as betamethasone butyrate and hydrocortisone can be used to manage hair loss but must be prescribed by a doctor before use.
Injections of blood plasma that contain a reasonable number of platelets can be used to reduce the loss of hair. This is conducted by a specialized doctor.
The blood is collected and separated. Plasma and platelets will be taken and injected into the affected parts of the scalp.
These injections speed up the repair of the scalp tissues, prevents further hair loss, boosts the density and diameter of the hair.
A hair transplant is done by taking hair from a part of the scalp that is thicker and placing it on the thinning or bald section of the scalp.
Hair is usually taken from the back of the head to an area where there is little or no hair. Hair can also be taken from other parts of the scalp.
The area that the hair will be taken from is sterilized and numbed with an anesthetic. There are two methods that can be used to transplant hair:
Follicular Unit Strip Surgery
A piece of the scalp is removed from the back of the head and closed with stitches. The removed scalp is separated into small fragments known as grafts which can contain 1-5 strands of hair each.
Holes are made on the bald areas and the graft is inserted into these holes and covered with bandages.
Follicular Unit Extraction
Hair is shaved from the back of the head and the hair follicles are taken out of the scalp. Holes are made on the bald area and the hair follicles are fixed into the holes. It is then covered with a bandage.
This is like the normal body massage, but it is done a bit more gently and can be done without oil. It can be done with the fingertips or massaging device for hair which mimics the fingertips.
The scalp massage affects the hair follicles and stretches its cells, thereby increasing the thickness of the hair growing from it.
The massage also dilates the blood vessels that supply blood to the hair follicles which helps the hair to grow longer.