Updated: Aug 25
Table of Content
1). What is PCOS?
In the life of every woman comes a stage when she becomes aware of an enemy lurking behind that perfect hairdo or that newly colored hair. We are just one brush stroke or one hair wash away from that awful moment when hair loss and PCOS become a reality and we panic. Though there were signs of it often, they were either dismissed as normal or as a one-off incident. But it takes an epiphany for us to accept that we may have a more serious problem than we anticipated. It is when you begin to notice that your hair has gone too limp or a tight ponytail reveals much more scalp than usual or when the hair begins to feel too thin that the alarm starts blaring.
Roused into action, we go into a frenzy of replacing our hair care products. It almost seems as if we are in denial, putting all the blame on the products that we have been happily using so far. But hey! Have you actually for once thought that problem could be inside of you and maybe that is the reason why nothing topical seems to be working like the way it used to? Research has shown that one of the major and most common reasons for hair loss in women worldwide is PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is thus imperative that we be educated about the repercussions of hair loss and PCOS that affect so many women across the world.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder common in women of childbearing age. The ovaries get enlarged and small cysts are formed in their outer edges. Multiple follicles containing immature eggs are formed inside the ovaries, which prevent the ovaries from ovulating. This disorder leads to the production of excess male hormones called Androgens. At the same time there is an alteration in the levels of hormones responsible for the normal functioning of the female reproductive system like estrogens, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), etc. Thus, women suffering from PCOS may have irregular periods and it becomes harder for them to get pregnant. PCOS causes hair loss, hair thinning, hair growth on the body and face, acne, male pattern baldness, dark patches on the skin, etc.
Reasons for hair loss in PCOS
Women suffering from PCOS tend to produce immoderate amounts of male hormones called Androgens. This also includes Testosterone. It is normal for the female body to naturally produce a decent quantity of Androgens. However, an excess of male hormones leads to the development of more masculine features in women suffering from PCOS. There is hair growth in unwanted areas like the face, neck, chest, and abdomen. But the most significant problem seems to be Androgenic Alopecia or Male pattern baldness. Let’s have a look at the characteristics of this PCOS related hair loss:
Hair loss tends to occur in the frontal and parietal areas of the scalp.
There is a thinning of the hair in the parting, at the crown, and the hairline.
Hair loss from PCOS can be from the roots where not just the entire hair but the follicles come out as well.
The hair is more susceptible to breakage as the hair becomes drier and is more prone to damage with heat and styling, thus more frizz.
The hair may appear to be finer than usual and would need a lot of products to increase body and volume.
The scalp may be dry and itchy with instances of dandruff build-up.
Can hair loss from PCOS be reversed?
Do not be disheartened, the good news is, that with the right hair loss treatment you may be able to stimulate the growth of new hair. Since PCOS is a medical condition, a more comprehensive approach needs to be adopted to balance the hormone levels and to revive the hair follicles.
Oral Contraceptive pills are prescribed to lower the Androgen levels which will downturn hair fall.
Spironolactone is an oral diuretic prescribed mainly for fluid retention but has been known to be effective in treating Alopecia.
Minoxidil can be utilized as a topical scalp treatment that stimulates hair growth. Just beware that once this is used it has to be continued or the hairs that were formed with the use of this product will return to their pre-state and fall out more readily.
Vitamin and mineral supplements like Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamins A, B E, and F, etc
Regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Weight loss has been known to reduce Androgen levels and reduce its adverse effects in women suffering from PCOS.
Biotin is a popular supplement that promotes hair health and growth.
DHT blocker to prevent the shutting down of hair follicles and to prevent hair growth in unwanted areas caused by the hormone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
Using the correct hair care products designed for PCOS-related hair issues under the guidance of a specialist.
Incorporating soy products in your diet to increase estrogen
Natural herbs as PCOS hair loss treatment
This practice of herbal medicine has been around for centuries in eastern countries and has gradually gained popularity worldwide. Herbs and roots from non-toxic plants that can fight any form of stress in the body are called Adaptogens. The Adaptogens that have been known to have helped with PCOS and hair loss are as follows:
Holy Basil: known as Tulsi in India is called the queen of herbs. It helps to reduce blood sugar, prevent weight gain, and lower cortisol levels.
Ashwagandha: an Indian herb that balances cortisol levels and helps with stress and symptoms of PCOS.
Turmeric: Curcumin present in Turmeric helps decrease insulin resistance and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Maca root: the roots of the Maca plant helps to reduce cortisol levels and reduce inflammation.
Licorice roots have anti-inflammation properties which help to metabolize sugar and balance hormones.
Tribulus Terrestris helps stimulate ovulation, enables normal menstruation, and decreases cysts.
Chasteberry helps with reproductive conditions and helps with PMS.
Probiotics reduce inflammation and regulate hormones like estrogen and androgens.
Food for hair growth
Eating mindfully and incorporating food items that are rich in nutrients that help with PCOS and hair regrowth should be the order of the day. So, here’s a small list of ideas to jumpstart your mindful eating regimen:
Nuts and pumpkin seeds for zinc.
Seafood, cheese, Banana, Tomatoes for Vitamin B.
Legumes, Nuts, Mushrooms, eggs for Magnesium, Zinc, iron
Beans and broccoli for Selenium.
Liver and peanuts for Biotin
Eggs and seafood for Choline.
Food for thought; Hair loss and PCOS in a nutshell
Hair loss from PCOS is a serious concern but nothing that cannot be treated or recovered from. The idea is to educate yourself and assimilate the internal as well external treatment methods. Thus, developing the right attitude and seeking the right guidance from an expert goes a long way in the treatment of all your hair-related concerns.
About The Author: Paula Bland
The founder of TLP, Paula Bland, is a medically qualified Nurse Practitioner, Hair aesthetician and also a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner known for her highly effective hair consultation. Paula has a non-traditional approach to hair care and advocates a chemical-free, natural, and holistic approach. The Love of People is her brainchild, and its products reflect her approach to hair health and have helped women with naturally curly hair manage their curls in a chemical-free and organic way.