Picture this: you’re standing in front of the mirror, running your fingers through your hair, and suddenly, you’re in panic mode. Your once-luscious locks are slowly but slowly bidding adieu. The culprit? Health circumstances (hello, postpartum!) and stressors aside, hormones might be to blame. With that in mind, we’re deep diving into all things hormone imbalance and hair loss. If you’re worried about your overall hair health—including hair thinning—read on. The hormone-hair connection runs deep.
hormones and your hair
To maintain a healthy mane, you need more than the right shampoo. Ultimately, hormone balance is key. For context, hormones influence many physiological processes, including the growth and maintenance of hair follicles. When hormones are imbalanced—thanks to factors like elevated androgens or thyroid issues—it can disrupt your hair’s growth cycle. In turn, hair follicles shrink. This leads to thinner, shorter strands, as well as a premature transition from the growth phase to the resting phase. More on this, below.
what is the hair growth cycle?
Hair growth occurs in cycles: anagen (growth), catagen (transitional), and telogen (resting). Hormones influence the duration and intensity of these cycles.
Anagen phase: This is the active phase of hair growth. The duration of the anagen phase varies from person to person, but it generally lasts between 2-7 years. During this phase, the hair grows steadily.
Catagen phase: This phase is a short transition between the growth and resting phases. It lasts for about 2-3 weeks. The hair follicle shrinks and detaches from the blood supply during this time.
Telogen phase: In this phase, the hair follicle is at rest. The old hair remains in place while new hair begins to grow beneath it. The telogen phase lasts roughly 3-4 months.
Keep in mind that the timing and duration of these phases are influenced by factors like genetics, age, overall health, and hormonal fluctuations. Additionally, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause will impact your hair growth cycles.
What hormones play a role in hair health?
When it comes to hair health, these are the most hormones that influence your locks.
This derivative of testosterone is a major contributor to hair loss. However, this is typically more common in men. In essence, high levels of androgens—including DHT—can shrink your hair follicles, causing hair to grow out looking thinner and more brittle (as well as fall out faster). DHT can also make it take longer for your follicles to grow new hairs once old hairs fall out.
Thyroid imbalances (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism) can disrupt the hair growth cycle, resulting in hair thinning or loss.
Estrogen and progesterone
Changes in these hormones (including pregnancy, menopause, or hormonal treatments) can impact hair growth and texture.
Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels may lead to hair shedding by pushing hair follicles into the telogen (resting) phase.
Can birth control cause hair loss?
Unfortunately, yes. Birth control pills, patches, injections, and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), can affect hormone levels. This, in turn, impacts hair growth. As mentioned, hair growth is influenced by a variety of hormonal factors, i.e. levels of androgens, like testosterone. Some birth control methods—particularly those containing high levels of androgens—can potentially contribute to hair thinning or hair loss. That said, this is more likely to occur if you’re genetically predisposed to hair loss.
How to achieve hormonal balance for healthy hair
First and foremost, consider a full bloodwork panel. This will give you a thorough understanding of your thyroid health, testosterone levels, cortisol, etc. In the meantime, hone in on your nutrition. Prioritize a diet rich in high-quality protein (hair’s building blocks), as well as foods high in B vitamins (these encourage hair cell rejuvenation)—legumes, egg yolks, organ meats, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and avocado. Additionally, eat ingredients with zinc and iron (pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, and pastured meat).
Next: stress management. The goal is to regulate cortisol levels to keep inflammation at bay, so hone in on practices like meditation, daily (moderate) movement, and getting quality sleep. Last but not least, be gentle with your hair! Avoid excessive heat and styling, which can exacerbate hair damage.
Colostrum for hair growth
Speaking of nutrition, it might be time to try colostrum—yes, colostrum. This magical elixir is known as liquid gold for a reason. If you’re a mom, IBCLC, neonatal nurse, or pediatrician, you know the life-changing benefits of colostrum. It’s an unrivaled nutrient powerhouse. From enhancing athletic performance to improving gut health, colostrum is a versatile supplement worth the shelf space—especially if you’re on a hair growth mission. Colostrum helps reactivate hair follicle stem cells, supports the hair microbiome, and works to combat hair loss. This supplement helps reverse inflammation and block chemical-induced damage to the follicle. My go-to colostrum supp? ARMRA.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.