Women seem to have suffered the brunt of a lot of physiological downsides but at least hair loss is not something we have to worry about, right? Actually, hair loss in women is quite common and there are multiple factors involved, one of them being the most horrid of all female conditions – polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that develops when the body produces too many androgens (male hormones). It’s relatively common, affecting one in ten women and can cause irregular periods, acne, pelvic pain, weight gain and a change in the amount of body and facial hair.
It is not unusual for women with PCOS to complain of excess hair growth on their face and body or to experience the exact opposite problem on their heads. Hair loss and hair growth are both influenced by hormone levels and the reason for the dramatic change seen in women with PCOS is the production of too many androgens.
Androgens are a group of hormones found in both men and women but men have much higher levels. PCOS sufferers though, often have higher than normal levels of androgens. Thinning hair is the most common side effect but for women who have a history of hair loss on either side of the family, PCOS may trigger female pattern hair loss.
Hair loss is more than a minor cosmetic problem. It has the potential to make you feel vulnerable and can cause unfavourable changes in how you feel about yourself, particularly when you’re suffering the multiple effects of PCOS. However, PCOS and hair loss are conditions that can be controlled through the right treatment and although hair is thinning, the follicles remain alive which means new hair growth is entirely possible.
The most common form of treatment for PCOS is the birth control pill. Contraceptive pills contain hormone medicine and if you consult your doctor they should be able to prescribe the right pill that contains the hormones that your body needs to treat PCOS. There also seems to be a link between PCOS and the body’s ability to make insulin, with many women making too much and it is possible that the ovaries react by making too many androgens. In this case, medications exist that can decrease testosterone production by affecting the way insulin regulates glucose. Surgery is another option but your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
As for the treatment of hair loss, the FDA approved minoxidil in 1986 for safety and efficacy which means it’s the most reliable remedy for the stabilisation and reversal of hair loss in women. The topical treatment is a dose-dependent medication however, so you’ll need to consult a hair loss specialist on which strength you’ll need and find out whether a combination of hair growth boosters will provide beneficial support for the treatment.
Contact the Belgravia Centre for more information or call 020 7730 6666 to arrange a personal meeting with a hair loss specialist. Alternatively, expert advice and the most effective and individually tailored hair loss treatment courses are available online via the online diagnostic form. Simply complete the form and a hair loss specialist will contact you regarding your best treatment options.