“Please may all my hair fall out!”….. said nobody EVER. I don’t know a single human on the planet who would wish for hair loss. It’s stressful and an obvious sign something has changed and not necessarily for the better.
I previously penned a post, “So You Stopped The Pill And Now You’re Are Losing Your Hair,” some years ago and to date it is still my most searched post. You can check it out here.
There are three common reasons why you might find your precious locks building up in the drain. I want to help you understand your body better so I thought listing these common culprits may help you work out what might be behind your hair loss.
I have vivid memories of an ex-boyfriend’s mum always saying that when the chestnuts fell, so did your hair. Sounded great in theory and made sense to me, the leaves fell and so did, what felt like, every strand in my head. (why does it feel like there may not be any left!) There is one main reason for this – melatonin.
During the summer months, the glorious rays of the sun mean increased exposure, which decreases your melatonin production (you don’t need as much, and the days are indeed longer and the nights shorter). Fast forward three months or so and things start to change pretty quickly.
Melatonin is the hormone that is produced in the pineal gland in the evening to make you feel sleepy and is largely responsible for your wake and sleep cycles. We love melatonin.
But melatonin won’t necessarily keep you asleep – it’s there to help you feel more relaxed to fall asleep.
Melatonin also plays a part in hair growth. You hair follicles have receptors for melatonin and help to synthesise it. If you notice your hair is falling out in Autumn feel relieved to learn it is the most common season you’ll notice shedding and if you can help yourself out with a little extra Vitamin D every other day, it may help support healthy hair growth throughout the rest of the year.
A hormone made by the pituitary, it is found in high amounts during pregnancy which decline fairly soon after the baby arrives. Prolactin levels tend to follow the circadian rhythm too. Whilst prolactin levels typically drop postpartum, they will still remain higher than normal and slowly decline whilst the mother is breastfeeding. What’s this got to do with hair loss I hear you ask? Many women experience hair loss around 6 months postpartum which is totally normal but scary at the same time as a result. Prolactin causes hair follicles to stop growing and is also sensitive to stress. But so long as your breastfeeding, your prolactin levels will remain elevated and too much prolactin can stop hair growth. Don’t stress too much even though it feels like you’re going bald, it will pass.
Prolactin is also sensitive to stress and research shows that too much prolactin can stunt hair growth.
The balance between good nutrition, sensible exposure to sunlight and keeping your stress levels in check may be the key to tackling hair loss during high stress or the postpartum phase. I always recommend to my patients a quality fish oil, magnesium, B vitamins as well as collagen to support healthy hair and hormones.
Hormone Imbalance – PCOS
The most common hormone imbalance I see in the clinic related to hair loss is PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) very commonly thinning along the sides and front of the hairline. The hormones at play in PCOS (elevated androgens) commonly cause thinning of the hair and can affect the hair follicle itself.
Prolactin may also play a role for women with PCOS as it can increase DHEA levels.
For many women with androgenic hair loss (related to PCOS), they may see other symptoms including elevated hormones like testosterone and DHEA, hair growth on the face, chest, nipples and lower stomach, acne especially along the back, neck and jawline.
1 in 5 women have PCOS
There are of course several other factors involved in hair loss, your thyroid may play in or your iron levels may be low. (Be sure to check out Debunking Your Thyroid too!) Whatever the reason, hair loss should be something that sparks you to check in with your health care professional to look further into what your hormones are doing. As you can see, it’s most likely your hormones are up to no good.
Given that PCOS affects around 20% of women, it’s important that you have the tools to help take your health in the direction it deserves to go. I’ve a suite of masterclasses at your ready to help your day to day habits count most.
Debunking PCOS is my masterclass designed to help you take control of your PCOS, to understand it more. I share my 5 steps towards managing and overcoming your PCOS and help you take back the reigns of your health and your hormones. You’ll gain access to the 2 hour class, class notes, a copy of my book as well as be invited to join the safe and exclusive Facebook community.
No matter what your caper, there’s a course to get your health on track and I’m most certainly here to help! Please leave a comment in the comment section below if you’ve experienced hair loss, PCOS or have thyroid issues. I love reading your comments and respond to them daily!