There is the old adage that says ‘a woman’s hair is her glory,’ and for many contemporary women, this adage still rings true. Beyond the aesthetic value that beautiful locks can add to a woman’s appearance, it can speak volumes about her overall health. Your hair can show tell tale signs of problems happening within. When the body is facing crises it can lead to a stunted hair growth to give your body room to direct energy to other parts of the body. This is why the issue of hair loss shouldn’t be be taken lightly or left up to topical products.
Although age contributes to hair loss, other factors like hormonal imbalance, emotional stress, medications and hair care products can as well lead to thinning of the hair and may even degenerate to male pattern baldness. The most efficient way to handle the issue is to discover the underlying cause.
Here’s an interesting tidbit, the most widespread types of hair loss are telogen effluvium and alopecia areata. Although telogen effluvium is more widespread than alopecia areata, it is less severe. It takes place when the hair follicles become dormant, cease growing and fall out at about two to three months.
Telogen effluvium is majorly caused by stress, trauma or medications; usually the hair grows back within 6-9 months. On the other hand, alopecia areata hair loss happens when white blood cells attack hair follicles, resulting to thinning and falling out of hair in patches. This type of hair loss requires medical treatment because the chances of the hair growing back on its own is slim.
Hormones are a few of the most essential, and influential, chemical messengers of our body. In the article balance hormones naturally, types of hormonal imbalance, we break down hormonal balance and why they are essential to our overall wellness.
Hormones are secreted by endocrine glands and are passed through the bloodstream, to tissues and organs where they affect the way the body functions. A minimal shift or imbalance of hormones would usually lead to remarkable changes in the the body as a whole and hair growth. Hormonal issues are a general cause of hair loss in both women and men.
Although hormonal imbalance is commonly experienced by women during menopause, perimenopause, pregnancy, or with endocrine disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), any woman is vulnerable to the condition as diet and lifestyle have a major impact on hormone levels.
So what is the link between hair loss and hormone imbalance?
Common causes of hormone imbalance related hair loss
Progesterone and estrogen levels out of whack
Progesterone and estrogen are two dominant female hormones and both have very vital functions. There are optimal levels in which the hormones should be produced. I like to think of progesterone as a the level headed girlfriend that keeps estrogen levels in check.
When progesterone levels are too low, it can lead to the condition of hyper-estrogen or estrogen dominance which can trigger excessive hair shedding and ultimately hair loss. At the same time the hair is thinning, there could be an increase in unwanted facial or body hair.
Overproduction of male hormones
Interestingly, while overproduction of the estrogen hormone can lead to hair loss in women, it is the hormone that actually protects us from losing our beautiful locks in the first place.
Typically hair loss is associated with men, hence the term, male pattern baldness. It is not very common in women because we have higher levels of estrogen which helps to balance out the effects of the male hormone, dihydrotestosterone or DHT. DHT is a potent form of testosterone that normally leads to hair loss.
Women who produce high levels of androgens or male hormones have increased testosterone levels which can convert to DHT. Thereby increasing their likelihood of hair loss.
Male hormones aren’t all bad and have vital functions in a woman’s body. However too much of it can lead to all kinds of problems. If you suspect that you are producing too much of these male hormones, first get your hormonal levels checked and read how to reduce androgen levels naturally for a guide on lowering these hormones and promoting balance.
When a woman is exposed to excessive stressful condition, her adrenal glands become under active as a result of her increase need of stress hormone, cortisol. This makes the body to secrete more adrenaline which leads to increased levels of testosterone and DHT.
Under or over performing thyroid
An overactive thyroid and lack of sufficient parathyroid hormone can also result to thinning of hair. Getting a blood test to check thyroid levels is a great starting point to identify any issues with this system.
Pregnancy and childbirth
Pregnancy and childbirth alter a woman’s hormonal balance and can result to hair loss. Therefore it is normal for postpartum mothers to experience thinning of the hair and even bald patches.
Such hair loss is temporary and typically heals itself within several months. The hair is expected to start re-growing naturally after about 90 days of giving birth and if the hair growth doesn’t return to normal after about a year, there could be another underlying cause.
Medications and the pill
Certain medications can lead to hair loss because they disrupt hormonal levels. A medication that is commonly linked to hair loss in women is birth control pill. American Hair Loss Association (AHLA) advises that women should consider making use of a low-androgen birth control pill to avert the effects of DHT, particularly women who are inclined to hair loss.
Menopause can as well lead to hair loss. During menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels fall and is no longer in balance with DHT levels. This low estrogen level and high DHT supply situation lead to hair loss.
Other causes of hair loss
Lack of proper hair care
In addition to bodily factors, excessive hair treatments can exacerbate or cause hair loss. Too much coloring, cutting, styling, brushing, blow-drying, styling and many others not only increases the chances of damaged hair follicles but also irritates the scalp.
One way to test if the hair loss is as a result of excessive hair treatments, is to do away with chemically infused, harmful hair products and limit how much you do to the hair. If the hair does not return to normal growth in a few months, there is a underlying cause that needs to be addressed.
Natural remedies to treat and prevent hormone imbalance related hair loss
If you’re a woman suffering from hair loss, chances are that the cause is due to a hormone imbalance. The first step is to test your female hormones: estrogen, testosterone, thyroid hormones and cortisol to determine if your hair loss is hormonal or genetic. If a hormonal imbalance is the cause, the following steps might help you to revitalize and get your hair growth and health back to normal again. See below:
Stinging nettle can be used as a hair tonic to stimulate new hair growth. Research shows that nettle root may inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT, particularly in combination with other herbs like Saw Palmetto.
Nettle leaf tea is very nutritious and contains trace minerals and other micronutrients that help to minimize or prevent hair loss. Rinsing the hair with nettle leaf is a conventional remedy for restoring the hair back to its original color.
Omega 3-fatty acids
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are types of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Our body can’t produce them and both of them are polyunsaturated fatty acids, meaning they possess unstable double bonded carbon atoms which have the tendency to react with hydrogen atoms, although their chemical structures vary.
The main sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold water fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, black cod, and bluefish. Vegetarian sources are walnuts, flax seeds, or chia seeds, which have a precursor omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA).
Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake
Excessive caffeine or alcohol intake can destabilize the endocrine system, particularly if there are other hormone stressors concerned in addition to presence of toxins, a fat imbalance or stress.
Get plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep can lead to increased stress levels, higher production of cortisol and ultimately hair loss. Invigorating sleep in addition to improving hormonal balance, can as well lead to a longer life and a reduced chance of disease condition.
Phytosterols are plant-derived sterols that are similar in structure to human cholesterol which may restrain the enzyme, 5-alpha reductase, and obstruct the synthesis of DHT. Foods with high levels of phytosterols are soy, wheat germ, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, Brussels sprouts, olive oil and rye bread.
Dietary and hair supplements to prevent hair loss
Supplementing daily diet with certain supplements can improve the growth rate, strength and vitality of the hair. Certain supplements can help to minimize the production of DHT, prevent DHT from binding to hair follicles or stimulate inactive follicles to encourage hair growth.
Massaging the scalp periodically can help to promote healthy scalp, strengthen hair follicles and prevent hair loss because of increased blood flow.
Losing beautiful locks can be a source of emotional stress for many women. Getting to the root cause of the problem is the key to getting the problem solved. Some hair loss may not need treatment like in the case of pregnancy while others may require more attention, lifestyle overhaul and lots of patience.
What are your thoughts and experience with hair loss and hormone imbalance?