Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common reproductive and hormonal disorder that affects 6-10% of the female population (1). It may cause irregular periods, weight gain, mood swings, and infertility. However, the relationship between PCOS and hair loss is quite interesting. While this disorder can cause hair loss and thinning on the front and in the center of your scalp, it can also induce hair growth on your face and the rest of your body (hirsutism). Fortunately, you can manage PCOS hair loss with the right treatment. Learn all about PCOS hair loss, its causes, symptoms, and how to treat it with medications and home remedies in this article. Keep reading!
In This Article
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 dihydrotestosteronei XAn endogenous male sex hormone that stimulates the development of male sex characteristics. (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 female pattern baldness or 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 androgen excess 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 dermatitisi X A skin condition where the skin develops rashes and irritation after coming in contact with an irritant or allergen. . 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 hyperandrogenismi XThe effect of excessive male sex hormones, such as androsterone, androstenedione, and testosterone in women. (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 phototherapyi X A non-invasive treatment that uses light energy to improve cell growth and regenerate hair follicles. , and microneedling with PRP (dermarollingi XA minimally invasive treatment where a device is used to stimulate hair follicles by creating micro tears to increase hair growth. ) 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.
If you have PCOS hair loss, your hair starts thinning on the front and center of your scalp. Scalp hair loss is one of the common symptoms of PCOS, and it can get very annoying and stressful. Most people tend to become self-conscious about how they look. However, you can reverse and manage this condition. The right treatment and timely diagnosis can prevent thinning hair and promote hair regrowth. There are several medical treatments, cosmetic procedures, and home remedies to treat PCOS hair loss. Consult a doctor if the condition persists.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Metformin help with PCOS hair loss?
Yes, research suggests that Metformin can help reduce hair fall in people who take it as a treatment for PCOS (16).
Can PCOS cause B12 deficiency?
Studies suggest that people with PCOS and low insulin resistance tend to have low concentrations of serum vitamin B12 when compared to those without insulin resistance (17).
Can people with PCOS drink milk?
While low-fat milk and dairy products could have a positive effect on PCOS, people with acne-prone skin or lactose intolerance are advised to avoid them.
Is oily hair a sign of PCOS?
Yes, the hormonal imbalance may lead to excess sebum production resulting in greasy hair, oily skin, and acne.
How long does it take for metformin to work on PCOS?
It may take about 6 months to see results in menstrual regularity and lower BMI when people with PCOS are treated with Metformin (18).
- An early diagnosis may help treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) hair loss.
- Doctors prescribe medicines that suppress male hormone production and block excess male hormones in PCOS hair loss treatment.
- Home remedies like fenugreek seeds, aloe vera, and cinnamon help treat the condition.
- You should also avoid eating processed foods to prevent PCOS hair loss.
Learn how PCOS, hair loss, and insulin resistance are connected and how you can manage them. Check this video to get the facts and tips to help you take control of your health.
- 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
- Comparison clinical and metabolic effects of metformin and pioglitazone in polycystic ovary syndrome
- Obesity and insulin resistance associated with lower plasma vitamin B12 in PCOS
- Metformin effects on clinical features, endocrine and metabolic profiles, and insulin sensitivity in polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 6-month trial, followed by open, long-term clinical evaluation