PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that causes problems with ovulation. It is also linked with ovarian cysts, male-pattern baldness, fertility issues, hirsutism (abnormal hair growth on the face and body), weight gain, and acne.
However, PCOS may also cause thinning of hair over several years. This is known as female-pattern hair loss or Androgenic alopecia.
It can cause a type of balding that starts at the top front of the head and spreads evenly across the scalp.
It is slightly different from male pattern baldness which tends to recede from the temples first and then form a horseshoe shape on the head.
The condition is thought to be inherited as it runs in families but women with PCOS may develop it unusually early if there is a strong family history.
- What Causes PCOS?
- What Are The Symptoms Of Androgenic Alopecia?
- Is There A Cure For Hair Loss Caused By Pcos?
- Balancing Hormone Levels
- Alternative Treatments
- Natural Remedies
- Can You Reverse Hair Fall From Pcos?
What Causes PCOS?
Androgenic alopecia is an inherited condition that affects women more commonly than men.
As with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), there are several factors involved but Androgen excess is the main one.
Around 7 out of 10 cases of female-pattern hair loss are thought to be linked to excess Androgens or male hormones.
It’s not clear exactly how these affect the hair follicles but it looks as though they cause miniaturization where each strand becomes thinner – so less visible – over time which leads to thinning hair.
What Are The Symptoms Of Androgenic Alopecia?
According to The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, masculinizing effects include increased acne in women, amount of facial, armpit, back, and chest hair, body odor, and tall stature in adolescents.
Additionally, changes in the voice timbre may also occur.
Is There A Cure For Hair Loss Caused By Pcos?
No, not as such but it can be managed and treated with medications and other treatments like laser therapy and scalp cooling caps.
Balancing Hormone Levels
With medication, the hormone levels in women with PCOS can be brought back closer to normal. This reduces male-pattern hair loss and sometimes promotes a healthier scalp environment too.
Oral contraceptives can be used to regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce the amount of acne and reduce hair loss. It can also reduce the risk of endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer.
Spironolactone (Aldactone) is an anti-androgenic medicine that blocks male hormones like testosterone.
Spironolactone has been shown to prevent further thinning in women with Androgenic alopecia caused by PCOS. It may also cause mild regrowth of some hair but this is rare.
Other forms of treatment include medications like topical minoxidil which helps increase blood flow to the follicles promoting growth and non-steroidal antiandrogens which block the excess production of Androgens from the ovaries.
Progesterone can also be given orally or applied directly to the scalp as a cream on some occasions, which has been shown to improve overall hair thickness and reduce shedding.
Depending on how advanced your hair loss is, it may be possible for you to treat the existing hair loss using medication or non-medical treatments like scalp cooling caps.
These can help slow down the process while you take steps to improve other medications.
Hair transplant surgery is more widely available these days, but it’s an invasive procedure that comes with side effects so it needs to be done on a case-by-case basis where appropriate.
Scalp Cooling Caps
Scalp cooling caps are an FDA-approved option for some women with thinning hair caused by Androgenic alopecia.
These caps are used during chemotherapy to protect against damage caused by the radiation therapy that some patients receive as part of their treatment plan.
They work through cooling the scalp using liquid coolant which slows down blood flow in this area – including temperature-sensitive structures like hair follicles.
There are currently no clinical guidelines on the use of scalp cooling caps for women with Androgenic Alopecia.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests that they may help to slow down hair loss – especially when combined with other treatments like Minoxidil (Rogaine).
This is an over-the-counter medication that has been used to treat hair loss for many years now. It can stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss in some people.
This is a non-invasive treatment that freezes fat cells to reduce your waistline and smooth out any bumps on the scalp which may be causing pressure on your hair follicles.
Aside from medications and surgery, your doctor may also offer you laser therapy. This works by increasing blood flow near the follicles which can improve nutrient supply and cell survival.
Scalp Micro Pigmentation
Micro-pigmentation is a form of tattooing where the pigment is injected into the scalp to mimic hair follicles.
This can be used independently or in conjunction with other treatments like lasers. It’s relatively new but growing in popularity and the results are said to be impressive.
These tiny tattoos give the appearance of a scalp as they mimic the color and shape of each hair follicle.
Avoid overheating scalp if using any of the treatments listed above. This will ensure optimal flow which is what we are aiming for.
The best solution to thinning hair caused by Androgenic alopecia is not one that comes in a bottle but changes to your lifestyle.
Getting enough protein – particularly collagen, keratin, and cysteine – can strengthen weak hair follicles, reduce thinning hair and increase growth in areas that have been lost to disease or stress.
The foods that contain these components are beef, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Limit refined sugar – it may be sweet but it’s also brittle on your body; this includes any processed food with excessive amounts of added sugars like candy bars and sodas.
What you eat directly affects the quality of your skin and its appearance which is why a healthy diet brings about noticeable changes in a short period.
A healthy diet that includes lots of green vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats is essential for a healthy-looking scalp. Taking care of your body from the inside will help to promote growth from the outside too.
Limit harsh chemicals in your beauty regimen
Harsh chemicals like sulfates found in shampoos strip away natural oils from both your hair and scalp, drying them out and making it more difficult for new hair growth to take root.
How often you wash your hair also plays an important role – when there’s not enough oil on the scalp or when you strip it with shampoo, this can lead to dryness which is another reason why thinning hair occurs.
While some believe that frequent washing leads to excess oil production, it’s stripping away good oils and leaving the scalp vulnerable to infection and other skin conditions.
So we can prevent thinning hair by not stripping away our natural oils, but what about adding them? Natural oils like coconut oil (a must for those living in hot & humid climates) or argan oil which is derived from Moroccan olives are great at keeping the scalp moisturized with essential nutrients.
Nisim International has a list of shampoos and other products that address these things. Feel free to check them out and see which ones fit your needs better.
The use of heated products is a big no!
With the existing hair fall using heated products will only speed up the process of hair loss. Stay away from using heating tools that are very harsh for your fine hair.
Smoking both causes and exacerbates thinning hair as it’s proven to damage blood vessels and reduce oxygen supply to your follicles which prevents proper nourishment.
It also damages collagen production which keeps your strands strong and supple so avoid indulging anytime you can!
Lose Weight If Necessary
If you’re overweight, losing just a few pounds may be all that you need to do to reduce the pressure on your scalp and prevent thinning hair.
This can also help you lower your blood sugar levels if they’re elevated as excess weight contributes directly to insulin resistance which is a major cause of PCOS itself.
Aerobic exercise boosts circulation throughout the body, including the scalp which leads to increased nutrient supply for hair growth.
Try low-impact workouts like walking or swimming or anything that doesn’t put too much stress on your body. Do it every day if possible – consistency is key!
Get Enough Sleep
If you’ve been pulling all-nighters with no rest, chances are tiredness has left you exhausted both physically and mentally which is taking its toll on your PCOS.
Get a full 8 hours of sleep each night and you’ll notice a difference in your hair, skin, and nails as well as your mood!
Lifestyle changes are often the best way to deal with thinning hair caused by Androgenic alopecia because they have a much bigger impact than any treatment ever will.
If you’re struggling, don’t give up hope – there is always something that you can do to help improve your situation.
Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water, get regular exercise and try to manage your stress levels can all help.
A comprehensive approach with the above is what you should aim for.
It’s also important to note that some women do experience a change in their hair texture as a result of hormonal changes so if this happens, it’s nothing to be alarmed about either.
Can You Reverse Hair Fall From Pcos?
In most cases, hair loss from PCOS cannot be reversed completely. But if you find a treatment or combination of treatments that work, it may improve your condition.
It is important to note that not all treatments are suitable for everyone and not all will work on every woman with PCOS.
It can be treated with medication and by managing your weight and diabetes if present. Losing excess weight may help to relieve the insulin resistance that is often seen in women with PCOS.
It has been suggested that high sugar levels lead to increased production of Androgens, which could increase hair loss in female-pattern baldness.
In a nutshell:
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, consult your doctor first before starting any new treatments or medications, especially those which are not FDA approved yet.
Use scalp cooling caps cautiously especially if they were prescribed off-label as there may be side effects from using them long term.
Scalp micro pigmentation combined with other treatments like lasers and/or scalp cooling caps can offer promising results for those experiencing Androgenic Alopecia caused by PCOS.
There is nothing that cannot be cured, the right combination of treatments and remedying the root cause of the problem can help to improve your condition with time.
Sandra is a health blogger based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. She loves being outdoors and exploring new places with her husband. She is a mom of two awesome kids and a dog named Luna!