Are you baffled by the sudden hair growth on your face and body while losing hair from the scalp? It could be due to PCOS. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common reproductive and endocrinology disorder found in 6-10% of the female population (1). The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS contributes to multiple issues, including excessive hair fall and hair thinning on the frontal and vertex region of the scalp. Do not worry, as hair fall and hair loss can be managed with the right treatment. In this article, we have discussed how PCOS may cause hair loss and what you can do to prevent it. Keep reading.
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Why Does PCOS Cause Hair Loss?
PCOS is a reproductive disorder (also impacts metabolic processes) that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts. The female body produces androgens or male hormones like testosterone that trigger puberty, hair growth, and other metabolic functions.
PCOS triggers excess androgen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) production in women that regulates the hair growth cycle and blocks the hair follicles, leading to shorter, thinner hair and eventually, hair loss (1).
PCOS may trigger female pattern hair loss, and you will experience excess hair growth, and hair loss in different body parts. Here is how you can differentiate PCOS hair loss from other types of hair loss.
PCOS hair loss starts with hair thinning, especially at the frontal and the vertex (middle) region of the scalp. This is also known as androgenetic alopecia or female pattern hair loss, commonly associated with PCOS (2). However, PCOS hair loss does not involve any scarring, which means the hair follicles may still be active.
An early diagnosis is crucial for treating PCOS hair loss. If left untreated, PCOS may cause permanent hair loss and baldness. Here are the treatment options you should consider.
PCOS Hair Loss Treatment
1. Suppress The Male Hormone Production
To suppress excess androgen production, the doctor may suggest:
- Oral Contraceptive Pills: These pills contain estrogen that can lower the androgen levels (3). They can be used simultaneously with 5-alpha reductase inhibitors for treating hair loss.
- Antiandrogens: Research found that a daily dose of 250 mg of flutamide can reduce hair loss and improve alopecia (4).
2. Block Excess Male Hormones
This can be done by using antiandrogens like:
- Spironolactone (Aldactone): It blocks DHT and prevents hair loss. Spironolactone is popularly prescribed for treating hair loss in hyperandrogenic cases (2).
- Minoxidil (Rogaine): This FDA-approved drug promotes hair growth. A 2% minoxidil solution can increase hair count and weight (2), (5), (6). It may take a few months to show results (2). However, it may also cause side effects like allergic reactions or contact dermatitis. Hence, consult a doctor before using minoxidil.
- Finasteride (Propecia) And Dutasteride (Avodart): There is limited evidence regarding the efficacy of using finasteride for hair loss caused due to hair loss. However, both finasteride and dutasteride are approved by the FDA for treating male pattern hair loss. Finasteride is shown to stabilize alopecia in women with hyperandrogenism (7). However, pregnant women should avoid it as it may cause genetic abnormalities in the fetus (8).
- Diane-35: This drug contains cyproterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol. It is shown to reduce hair loss and hair thinning within 6-9 months (9).
3. Cosmetic Procedures
The doctor may also suggest procedures like hair transplant and laser phototherapy, and microneedling with PRP (dermarolling) for covering bald spots. A study on male patients showed that laser phototherapy could stimulate hair growth (10). Hence, it may also work for female pattern hair loss. Other than medical treatment options, you may also try home remedies to manage hair loss.
Home Remedies For PCOS Hair Loss
1. Fenugreek Seeds
As per anecdotal evidence, fenugreek seeds may help improve hair health and minimize hair fall.
You Will Need
- Fenugreek seeds
- A glass of warm water
- Honey (optional)
Soak the fenugreek seeds in a glass of warm water overnight. You may add honey to this water and drink it early in the morning on an empty stomach.
2. Aloe Vera
Anecdotal evidence suggests that drinking a glass of aloe vera juice early in the morning on an empty stomach can regulate hormonal imbalances and may help reduce hair loss.
You will need
- Aloe vera juice
- 1 glass of warm water
- Honey (optional)
Mix aloe vera juice in water. You can add honey (if required) and consume it every day early in the morning.
Including cinnamon in your diet may help regulate hormone levels and minimize hair loss. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove these effects.
You will need
- A teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- 1 glass of hot water
- Honey (optional)
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
Mix cinnamon powder, honey, and lemon in a glass of warm water and drink on an empty stomach for best results.
Following a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is crucial for managing PCOS symptoms, including hair loss. Here is what you can eat to prevent PCOS hair loss.
What To Eat and Avoid To Prevent PCOS Hair Loss?
- Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Consume vitamin and antioxidant-rich foods, such as whole grains, eggs, healthy fats from nuts and avocado, spinach, citrus fruits, and carrots. A well-balanced diet provides the essential nutrients to your body to stay healthy and prevent hair loss. Consult a doctor to check if you need nutritional supplementation
- Protein-Rich Foods: Include sufficient proteins in your diet. Insufficient nutrients and protein levels in the body are linked to hair loss (11). Consume lean protein like fish, chicken, and lentils.
- Consume Zinc-Rich Foods: Research found that zinc supplementation in patients with PCOS could decrease hair loss (12). Consume foods, such as oysters, chickpeas, yogurt, beans, nuts, and whole grains (13). You may also consult the doctor and take zinc supplements.
- Eat Foods Rich In Iron: Include white beans, nuts, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, and peas in your diet (14). This is because iron deficiency may cause hair loss (11).
- Take Multivitamins: You may take multivitamin supplements to combat the lack of vitamins and minerals in your body. Consult a doctor for the proper dosage.
- Avoid eating processed foods, such as refined flour (like white bread, pizza dough, regular pasta, white rice), sugar, fried, and fast foods. These inflammatory foods can exacerbate metabolic conditions, such as insulin resistance, common in PCOS (15).
If you are wondering if hair loss from PCOS can be reversed, here is the answer.
Is PCOS Hair Loss Reversible?
Yes, it is reversible if the hair follicles are still active. There are medical treatments available to prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth from the active hair follicles.
Living through PCOS and hair loss can be challenging, and most of us tend to get self-conscious about our appearance. However, there is no need to panic or feel anxious – as hair loss can be reversed with the right treatment and proper diagnosis. If you are experiencing hair loss due to PCOS, consult a doctor immediately, and follow the prescribed treatment and medications.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Is hormonal hair loss reversible?
Yes, you can reverse hair loss due to hormonal changes with medicines to stimulate hair growth. This depends on the extent of hair loss and other underlying causes.
Does PCOS cause telogen effluvium?
Yes, PCOS can trigger telogen effluvium due to hormonal imbalances and stress.
How long does PCOS hair loss last?
It may last for months or years and may become permanent if not treated on time.
Will weight loss help PCOS hair loss?
Yes, it may help. However, you will have to undergo treatment to minimize hair fall.
Do hair masks help with PCOS hair loss?
No. Hair masks may help keep the hair healthy, but you need proper treatment and medicine to minimize PCOS hair fall.
What is the best shampoo for PCOS hair loss?
You may use shampoos containing biotin and DHT blockers. Check out the 15 best shampoos for PCOS hair loss here.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: current status and future perspective
- Female Pattern Hair Loss
- Hair Loss in Women
- Treatment of hyperandrogenic alopecia in women
- Androgenetic alopecia in the female. Treatment with 2% topical minoxidil solution
- A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 5% and 2% topical minoxidil solutions in the treatment of female pattern hair loss
- Hair loss in women with hyperandrogenism: four cases responding to finasteride
- Androgenetic Alopecia
- [Assessment of efficacy of Diane-35 in androgenetic feminine alopecia]
- HairMax LaserComb laser phototherapy device in the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia: A randomized, double-blind, sham device-controlled, multicentre trial
- Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
- Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Endocrine Outcomes in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
- Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Underpinning of insulin resistance and ovarian dysfunction