PCOS and Hair Loss
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal condition that physicians attribute to both genetic and environmental factors. It is fairly common, affecting an estimated 10% of women worldwide (i). Primarily, PCOS is known to cause hormonal variations that may make it difficult to get pregnant. However, PCOS may cause additional side effects including weight gain, acne, and hair loss. Over time, studies indicate women with untreated PCOS may be at high risk for developing other serious health conditions like type II diabetes and heart disease.
PCOS is perhaps the most common of all endocrine (hormonal) disorders experienced by females of reproductive age, and it is believed to be the leading cause of infertility among women. An estimated 50% of women with PCOS do not know they have the condition. In light of this alarming statistic, it is important to spread awareness for the symptoms of PCOS so proactive measures can be taken to reduce its impact on overall physical and emotional health.
Common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Uncontrollable fluctuations in weight (gain or loss)
- Increased growth of facial and/or body hair
- Irregular menstruation cycles
- Infertility / difficulty conceiving
- Emotional distress, including depression
- Thinning, shedding, or balding of the scalp
PCOS and Hormonally Induced Female Hair Loss
The defining physical characteristic of PCOS is ovarian cysts, tiny growths that appear throughout the ovaries. While the cysts themselves are not harmful, they do impair the production of an essential ovarian enzyme that may significantly reduce estrogen production. Relative androgen levels rise as a consequence, leading to an increased abundance of hormones like testosterone.
Sudden influxes in testosterone may lead to androgenetic alopecia, a specific type of hair loss caused by hormonal changes in the scalp. Increases in testosterone may fuel the production of DHT, a chemical known to adversely affect the hair follicle’s ability to sustain normal hair growth. Most commonly, DHT causes hair miniaturization; a phenomenon in which hair becomes thinner and finer over time. Eventually, miniaturization turns in to all-out hair loss as DHT shuts down the follicle completely.
In a guest blog on the Women’s Hair Loss Project, holistic nutritionist and certified health coach Ms. Amy Medling offers the following tips for overcoming PCOS naturally (ii):
1. Sizzle in the kitchen. According to Ms. Medling, one of the best ways to get back-on-track is to pay close attention to diet. By cooking your own food, you can be sure to use high quality sources that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that promote healthy hair.
2. Have discriminating tastes. “Only clean foods allowed in your temple,” Ms. Medling explains. Again, emphasis is placed on seizing control of the quality and nutritional content of each meal.
3. Move it. Not only does physical exercise promote healthy hormonal balance, but it also makes you feel well. Daily exercise and sun exposure can do wonders for reducing stress, which may also decrease the incidence of Telogen Effluvium (stress induced hair loss).
Treatment Options: Restoring Hair Loss Caused by PCOS
Today, a number of procedures are available to women who experience hair loss from PCOS. In addition to improving diet and exercise regimens, women may explore the following options under the guidance of a qualified hair transplant surgeon and clinic:
1. Hair Loss Evaluation. An expert evaluation is essential in diagnosing the root cause of hair loss as well as identifying the most effective course of treatment.
2. Prescription Hair Loss Medications. For women, prescription hair loss treatments like Rogaine® (Minoxidil) may be effective in slowing hormone-induced hair loss.
3. Surgical Hair Restoration. Today, highly refined methods of surgical hair restoration are available to reverse the signs of baldness in a beautiful and all-natural way. Follicular unit extraction procedures are among the most effective, transplanting patients’ real hair to thin or bald areas to produce an authentic end-result with minimal discomfort.
4. ARTAS® System Hair Transplant. Our Institute is proud to be 1 of just 17 clinics in the United States to offer the revolutionary new ARTAS® System by Restoration™ Robotics. A physician-guided robot system, the ARTAS empowers our surgeons to conduct FUE transplants with unparalleled accuracy, consistency, and precision.
Exclusive Interview: Watch as Dr. Rose presents the ARTAS System to CBS Miami.
At the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami, we hold our patients’ desire for a full and natural head of hair in the highest regard. Our team works diligently to ensure each patient feels comfortable and confident during each visit, from evaluation to procedure and post-procedure follow-up.
We invite you to learn more about hair loss evaluations at our Institute, or contact our friendly front desk at 305.925.0222.
(i) “Amy Medling, the PCOS Diva.” Women’s Hair Loss Project. Accessed 3 March 2013.
(ii) See above.