Updated: May 17
Hormone related hair loss has a huge impact on a woman's self-esteem and confidence. I have never been one to have beautiful, thick hair but when my hair started to fall out in significant amounts 3 months postpartum I was anxious and stressed out as to what to do about it. You can read specifically about postpartum hair loss here.
Of course you start reading online on how to stop hair loss and everyone tells you stress is one of the worst things for hair loss...which makes you even more stressed!
So let's get to the bottom of hormonal hair loss (technical term: female pattern hair loss) and what you can do to help promote healthy hair growth.
Hormonal Hair Loss
The technical term for the most common hormone related hair loss issue among women is female pattern hair loss (FPHL). This used to be referred to as androgenetic alopecia because of its relationship to androgen hormones, the male dominant hormones. (1)
FPHL usually starts to show symptoms as a teenager and then progresses to hair loss in a male pattern (crown of head). This onset in teenage years is due to puberty and an increase in hormones. If androgen hormones are high in a woman, she is more likely to experience hair loss.
12% of women first develop clinically detectable hair loss by age of 29. This increases to 25% by age 49 years and almost half of women experience detectable hair loss by 69 years old. (2)
Why Does it Happen?
Changes related to hormone levels before, during and after pregnancy affect our hair growth. It’s completely normal to experience hormonal imbalance after giving birth, and one of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance is hair loss.
Postpartum hair loss occurs after childbirth because of the sudden change of hormones in your body, particularly the change between progesterone and estrogen.
During pregnancy, your body increases its production of estrogen which signals more hair follicles to grow. This is why during pregnancy many women notice thicker and faster hair growth.
Once you have your baby, estrogen levels will drop down to their pre-pregnancy range. This turns off that increased hair follicle growth. On average, it takes about 90 days or so of hair follicles being in the "resting phase" before we notice hair shedding.
This does not include the addition of stress, lack of nutrition, hydration, and vitamins that can also contribute to hair loss. This is why the degree of hair loss women experience postpartum varies.
Pay attention to your hair loss and how long it lasts because there is the potential for the thyroid to become inflamed postpartum (thyroiditis). Thyroid function can definitely affect and worsen hair loss. Talk with your doctor to have thyroid levels checked.
Tips for Protecting Your Hair
Here are some tips for daily hair care to help keep your hair growing, healthy, and stress free.
Limit the amount of times you need to wash your hair. This will keep the natural oils in your hair longer which mean more nutrients!
Leave conditioner in your hair for at least a couple minutes. Use a wide tooth comb and start at the bottom of your hair to get out all the tangles gently.
Avoid heat from blow dryers, curling irons, and straighteners as much as possible.
Use soft scrunchies or barrettes to put hair up, instead of rubber bands and avoid pulling your hair back too tightly.
Avoid getting your hair colored, permed, or other chemical treatments until hair loss has slowed or stopped. These will put the most stress on your hair.
Nutrients for Healthy Hair
These are the top nutrients for healthy hair!
B Vitamins - Continue your prenatal vitamin and eat a diet rich in leafy greens, salmon, eggs, meat, legumes, poultry. You can also get a good amount of B vitamins in Brewer's yeast which is helpful in boosting milk supply for breastfeeding mamas!
Iron - Prenatal vitamins have more iron than a typical multivitamin, so you can continue taking your prenatal. Food sources of iron are similar to those containing B vitamins. Good sources of iron include meat, poultry, dark leafy greens, legumes, and seafood.
Vitamin C - Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is present in many of our fruits and vegetables. Great sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, red bell peppers, strawberries, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli.
Vitamin E - Vitamin E is also an antioxidant and a fat-soluble vitamin. You can find vitamin E in nuts, seeds, oils, green leafy vegetables, avocado, and kiwi.
Zinc - Zinc is present in most animal products like meat, poultry, seafood (especially oysters), beans, nuts, and whole grains.
It can feel like our body is working against us, but please know that is never the case!
If you're looking for additional guidance and support, let me know. Now is the time to invest in yourself and your body. You deserve to feel happy, energized, and comfortable in your body! Apply to work with me here
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Liz Riesen, Registered Dietitian
works specifically with women's hormones, inflammation, and digestive health. Often these conditions coexist and share common disruptive symptoms including bloating, weight gain, anxiety, mood swings, irregular cycles, and other inflammatory symptoms.
Liz is trained in identifying and healing food sensitivities, as well as balancing hormones naturally through nutrition and lifestyle. Follow me @moms.hormone.dietitian