Birth control can offer so many beautiful, life changing effects. We bleed less and at a more regulated pace, selected hormones help balance us out, we can enjoy an intimate relationship without the fear of unplanned pregnancy; the list goes on. Also on the list: hair loss. It’s a tough pill to swallow, literally, if you’re prone to thinning hair already and plan to start taking contraceptives. The reasons behind some women’s hair loss when on BC are due to hormones; the kinds in your body to begin with and the kinds flooding your system each time you pop a teeny little pill. Thankfully, research has been done to keep your chances of losing locks low, low, low.
Get informed and keep those glossy tresses right where they belong: pouring from the top of your head like the most beautiful waterfall.
The very basic breakdown from Healthline is this:
“Birth control pills can cause hair loss in women who are especially sensitive to the hormones the pill contains or who have a family history of hormone-related hair loss.”
Great, but what does this mean for us as individuals and what can we do about it? 25% of sexually active women ages 15 to 44 rely on the pill, which works by stifling the amount of estrogen that causes an egg to be released while also thickening mucus around the cervix, making it harder for sperm to meet and fertilize an egg. If the latter does happen, there is less of a chance for it to latch and grow properly. Similar processes occur with use of a patch, implant, shot or vaginal ring, due to similarly dispensed hormones.
It’s a sensitivity to the synthetic versions of female hormones found in most common birth control methods that contribute to hair loss.
Anagen is the active phase of hair growth, during which your hair grows from your follicle until Catagen stage, where it slows and stops. Telogen comes after, during which hair growth comes to a stop and up to 100 hairs are shed naturally each day.
Birth control can disrupt this natural hair cycle in the form of something called telogen effluvium, which causes stages to occur too quickly. The hormones found in pills, patches, shots, etc can “cause the hair to move from the growing phase to the resting phase too soon,” resulting in uneven growth pattern and confused follicles.
According to Nicole Galan, RN, the most common birth control methods that bring on telogen effluvium are:
- -hormone injections, such as Depo-Provera
- -skin patches, such as Ortho Evra
- -progestin implants, such as Norplant, and
- -vaginal rings, such as NuvaRing.
Thankfully, this sort of hair loss is temporary, and like many BC side effects, should subside as your body adjusts and regulates. In cases where growth doesn’t correct itself naturally, patients can ask for Minoxidil 2%, which stimulates the growth phase of hair to occur more quickly.
So what can you do to avoid having to deal with hair loss? Try estrogen-high birth control methods instead. These can activate hair growth by keeping your hair in the Anagen phase longer, due to their being low on the androgen index.
Though no method of BC is totally side-effect free (that’s kind of the point of them, after all), some will definitely vibe with your specific body better than others. With so many different brands and options on the market, there is absolutely no reason to suffer through a condition like unwanted hair loss. You deserve the best, and the best is out there, waiting for you.