Last updated on 1/29/22
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormone disorder that is common among women of reproductive age. It can cause a variety of symptoms and it varies from individual to individual.
In this blog post, we will discuss what PCOS is, types of hair loss associated with it, and some treatment options.
PCOS between five to 10 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age. The exact cause is unknown and it’s important for women who think they might have PCOS to get properly diagnosed and treated.
If you think you might have PCOS, talk to your doctor about getting tested. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PCOS, but there are many options available that can help control the symptoms.
PCOS is characterized by 3 key factors:
- Increased androgen levels
- Irregular periods
- Enlarged ovaries and fluid filled sacs
Most women will only receive a diagnosis during a routine gynecological checks as they will be asymptomatic, but may have other associated problems including:
- Decreased fertility
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
Hirsutism, or an increase in body hair, is a common side effect of PCOS. It would be a safe assumption to think that it would include scalp hair, however often the adverse is true.
PCOS can and often will lead to increased scalp hair loss. The cause for this is debated.
Increased testosterone and androgens are being linked to the condition, although other experts believe that there is a genetic or propensity factor that makes individuals more susceptible to the androgens.
The later is more widely accepted as often serum levels of free testosterone are within the normal range.
Androgens especially DHT (dihydrotestosterone) shrinks the hair follicles and shortens the cycle resulting in fine hair and eventually complete destruction.
Types of Hair Loss Associated with PCOS
Changes in the internal environment, such as hormonal changes, change in medication, or stress, can cause hair to enter the final phase of the hair cycle (Telogen), resulting in shedding.
Telogen Effluvium will not lead to baldness as the hair is continually replaced.
Androgenetic Alopecia— can occur in 2 forms:
- Female Pattern Hair loss – hair is principally lost from the top of the head with a widening of the parting as its beginning. It does not usually result in total hair loss, but there is widespread thinning following the Ludwig scale.
- Male Pattern Hair loss – hair recedes from the temples back to the occipital while the sides are usually unaffected. Baldness is common and follows the Hamilton-Norwood scale.
The two forms have a genetic component, which can exacerbate PCOS. However, the hair loss is typically slow and takes years to develop.
PCOS is often difficult to treat and requires a lifestyle change to manage most of the symptoms.
The most important change is to avoid products and foods that have come into contact with endocrine disruptors.
These are prevalent in cosmetics and food preservatives as we are only learning of the long term impact.
It is best to use organic and natural products as much as possible.
The other things you can do to combat hair loss caused by PCOS is to include exercise into your daily routine.
Eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help to regulate your hormones and improve your overall health.
Ingredients to Avoid
BPA, Dioxin, Atrazine, Phthalates, Perchlorate, Fire retardants, Mercury, Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), Organophosphate pesticides, Glycol Ethers, Phytoestrogens, Parabens
Ingredients to Try
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PCOS, but there are many options available that can help control the symptoms. With some lifestyle changes and medication, many individuals can manage their symptoms and live healthy lives.
Use of anti androgens can reduce hair loss symptoms but should be directed by a medical professional.
Minoxidil can be used but results are often poor and come with its own set of problems.
Oral contraceptives and topical solutions used in tandem, provide the best results but the addition of herbs that have the same effect can often be better for the body.
Saw palmetto, Peony and Licorice root are all natural DHT blockers which can help to reduce the effect of androgens naturally.
On another note…
My Instagram friend, Jessica, reached out to me when she discovered that I was doing research on this topic, so I wanted to give a huge shout-out to her.
She was wonderful to offer these associated articles, which were written by physicians she and her team worked with, in an effort to assist.
See the links below. I hope you find them helpful.
Lara Briden— The Period Revolution: 3 Signs Your Period is Not Really a Period.