Birth control and hair loss: What's the link?

Hormonal forms of birth control normally contain an ingredient that acts similarly to male hormones and could cause hair loss among other side effects.

Birth control
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Birth control

Hormonal forms of birth control such as oral pills, skin patches, implants and hormone injections could cause hair loss in some women.

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This is because they contain an ingredient called progestin which has androgenic activity, meaning it functions like male hormones.

This ingredient can cause several negative side effects among women, including hair loss.

Women who are hypersensitive to hormonal changes or have a predisposition to hormonal-related hair loss tend to be affected more severely than others who do not.

A family history of hair loss or androgenic alopecia—a condition that causes hair follicles to shrink and stop growing—could also determine the level of impact these birth control methods would have on the user.

Other factors that can cause hair loss include:

  • Ageing: Some individuals see a cease in hair growth as they age, resulting in hair thinning
  • Cancer treatment: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause a person to lose most or all of their hair
  • Stress related to child birth, illness, or general stressful events can increase shedding. But once those events pass, most people’s hair returns to its previous fullness
  • Using hair-damaging products: The use of products that perm, dye, or relax the hair can cause damage that may result in hair loss.

Anyone with concerns about hair loss can speak with a doctor about taking a pill that has low androgenic activity.

Non hormonal birth control

Alternatively, they can ask about non hormonal forms of birth control, which do not affect a woman’s hormones.

Condoms are a popular form of non hormonal birth control. Copper IUD, diaphragms, cervical cups, sponges, spermicides and vagina gels. These methods have varying degrees of efficacy so it is always advisable to speak to a doctor before using them.

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