Women, hair loss and oral contraception


Taking pillsFor some time we have been aware that for all the good oral contraceptives can do, they also have harmful side effects such as blood clots, stroke and heart attacks. Many people do not realise that they can also have an effect on hair loss. The paradox is they can cause loss of hair and they can also enhance the growth of hair.

How birth control pills work

To understand why this is, we need to look a little closer at how oral contraceptives or birth control pills work (BCP’s). At the time of the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels rise to prepare for the fertilised egg (ovulation). It is after ovulation that the hormone progesterone is released to enhance the process. If the egg is not fertilised then the levels of the two hormones drop and menstruation is triggered in full. BCP’s are a mixture of estrogen and progesterone which prevent ovulation by keeping the hormone levels constant.

How the drug may interfere with natural hair growth cycles

The cycle which these hormones interfere with, relative to hair loss, is telogen effluvium or hair shedding. We naturally shed hair all the time and in this growth cycle the growing phase is called anagen and the resting phase is called telogen. Excess hair shedding can be precipitated by starting birth control pills, switching birth control pills, or even discontinuing the BCPs that a patient has been on for a long period of time. Doctors have found this process is reversible once the patient starts on a new medication.

A predisposition to hair loss

If a woman has a predisposition for hair loss then BCP’s could increase that process by adding androgens. Different BCP’s have unique ingredients; it is therefore worth checking this through with your GP to ensure you use the most appropriate oral contraceptive for your body.

How BSP’s can enhance hair growth

So this is how BCP’s can increase the possibility of hair loss. Let’s now look at how BCP’s can help in it’s treatment. Just as BCP’s with dominant progesterone can trigger female pattern hair loss, oral contraceptives higher in estrogen can stimulate hair growth by prolonging the anagen phase of the growth cycle.

However the great problem here is estrogen dominant BCP’s usually come with a great deal more side effects as it is important to balance this hormone with progesterone. While estrogen is a developmental catalyst and stimulant, progesterone is a multi-purpose hormonal building block. Progesterone is responsible for converting cholesterol into cortisol, DHEA, testosterone and estrogen; and maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance and blood pressure level.

Some of the side effects could be a great deal more life threatening than hair loss so this needs some careful thought and advice from your gynaecologist.

Scalp micro pigmentation cares about you and cares about your hair. Micro Pigmentation is a treatment which allows you to deal with your hair loss issues in a unique and innovative way.

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