Is Your Birth Control Causing Hair Loss?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated

The main function of the birth control pill is to suppress some hormones that do not only affect the uterus but also other parts of the body as well. And one of those parts is hair - specifically, hair loss.

With so many birth control applications to use, the pill is the most widespread contraceptive used by many women around the world.

It is always wise to ask doctors about all possible side effects that can occur when you start the pill.

In case your family medical history has pattern hair loss, the doctor would probably recommend using other birth control methods that do not suppress your hormones.

Summary

If you experienced any hair loss after taking birth control pills, you should be able to get normal hair growth by six months after discontinuing the birth control pills.

Once you stop taking the birth control pill, you end up losing a lot of hair, and this can be alarming. Because the hormonal level is coming back to its normal state, it might instigate more hair loss. After the mass hair fall, your hair will eventually enter the growing phase and start the hair growth again.

Not all women will face hair loss after stopping the birth control pill. It may vary from female to female.

How birth control pills work?

birth control pill hair loss on table

A birth control pill is a form of birth control that stops pregnancy by using hormones. Because it comes in pill form, people call it "the pill." The pill is taken by mouth by women once a day. 

These oral contraceptives stop ovulation, which is when an egg is released from the ovary. They also change the lining of the uterus and the mucus in the cervix in ways that make it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and fertilize an egg.

Can birth control cause hair loss?

Birth control pills can cause hair loss as it contains synthetically made progestin, a hormone that makes the resting period longer than it should be. People with a family history of pattern baldness should avoid taking hormonal birth control pills and should opt for non-hormonal birth control.

There are two different types of pills:

  • Combined Pill: this pill contains both estrogen and progestin
  • Mini Pill: this pill only contains artificial progestin

Progestin, or combined with estrogen, can prevent women from getting pregnant. Progestin work is to thicken the mucus in the cervix to enable the sperm to pass through to reach the egg. Meanwhile, estrogen blocks the egg to be released.

Because of their high androgenic activity, these pills have become a reason for hair fall.

What hormone in birth control causes hair loss?

birth control pill hair loss

Hair growth has 3 phases, anagen, catagen, and telogen. Anagen is where the hair grows from hair follicles and stays for 2 to 7 years. Catagen is the in-between growth stage where the hair stops growing. This can be for up to 10 to 20 days. Telogen is a resting phase where the hair does not grow and loses around 30 to 100 hairs per day. This shedding process can last for 100 days.

Almost all birth control pills cause hair loss. These pills contain a hormone called Progestin. Progestin, if made synthetically, can create androgenic activity in the body. This can lead to imbalance hormones and cause hair loss. Androgens like DHT can make the Telogen phase (resting phase) stay for a long period which eventually causes hair fall.

How does birth control pill cause hair loss?

Most pills contain progestin as one of the components. This component is the main reason for hair loss.

Because progestin is an artificial hormone, it acts like an androgenic, which is a similar hormone to men. Because of progestin, there can be severe side effects to the body, and hair loss is one of them.

Women who are sensitive to any changes in the hormone, tend to experience hair loss by taking these birth control pills.

People with a family history of hair loss should not take birth pills as it might instigate hair loss in them as well. Therefore, there are few non-hormonal birth control ways that one can have, without the risk of losing their hair.

Once you take the birth control pills, your hair growing phase will go into the resting stage sooner than expected or the resting phase stays for too long. This phase produces thin and weak here which fall out immediately. This can lead to baldness as well.

Moreover, if hair loss is genetic in your family, taking birth pills will increase the chances of hair loss.

Hormonal birth control creates androgenic activity in the body which can worsen hair loss in women. Even if injecting hormones, getting skin patches, progestin implants or even vaginal rings can cause the process of hair loss to exacerbate.

Other common causes of hair loss

birth control

Sometimes, your hair loss is not necessarily caused by the birth control. There are many causes of hair loss.

Family history

Hair loss can be inherited and this genetic disease is called androgenic alopecia.

Age

there are some people whose hair growth phases have slowed down, which results in thin and weak hair and eventually causing hair loss.

Chemotherapy

Another reason people lose their hair is due to cancer treatments. The radiation can cause hair fall in the patient and can lead to baldness.

Stress & anxiety

When you start stressing out, your body starts producing a hormone called cortisol that causes hair loss.

Read this: 9 Effective Methods How To Regain Hair Loss From Stress

Chemical products

Using too many styling products on your hair can be damaging and make them break out. Even buying shampoos with harmful ingredients like these can cause hair loss.

Hormonal imbalance

hormonal imbalance from contraceptive pill

Women when faced with hormonal imbalance is known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) where they might suffer from hair thinning.

Additionally, DHT and DHEA can also cause hair loss.

Poor diet

Poor diet can lead to less nourishment for the hair and body, which results in weak hair and can easily be pulled out. It is important to have proteins (amino acids), iron, biotin, and zinc so you may behave healthier and thick hair growth.

See how you can still grow luscious hair on a vegetarian diet here.

Traction alopecia

If you wear a tight hat, braid your hair too tightly or pull them back, you might get a receding hairline. This can also trigger hair loss.

Increased androgens

A rise in androgens will cause hair to thin, which could lead to female pattern hair loss and hair shedding, which is the same thing that happens to men with androgenetic alopecia. 

If you already have high levels of androgens in your body, which is common in PCOD and PCOS, taking the right pill can not only treat hair loss but also help with female pattern baldness by making your body produce more oestrogen.

Other rare, but possible, causes of hair loss:

Sometimes even if you switch your birth control pills, you might experience hair loss.

How to stop hair loss from birth control?

julia before and after

Birth control pills usually result in a short-term hair loss period. Soon after your body gets used to the pill, hair loss also gets better within few months. Once you’ve stopped taking the pill for a while, hair should also stop.

If this is not the case and you don’t see any improvement in hair growth, consider asking your doctor about minoxidil 2% which is one of the most popular hair loss treatments for women.

Minoxidil directs the hair follicles into a swift growth phase. You’ll be able to see results after a few months of taking the pill.

But, there are side effects to minoxidil you should watch out for.

  • Scalp irritation
  • Hair growth in adjacent areas (i.e. forehead)
  • Dizziness
  • Unregular heartbeat
  • Faint
  • Chest pain
  • Hand or feet swelling
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing

With that in mind, we have developed a naturally-derived, vegan and cruelty-free hair growth routine that can grow your hair without side effects of minoxidil.

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Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S. is a House Physician in the Medical Unit 3 Allied Hospital, Faisalabad, and deals with hepatic, cardiac, neurological, and dermatological issues daily. He did his MBBS from Punjab Medical College, Faisalabad. He believes that a good haircare routine is one where you nourish it naturally. During his free time, he works as a dermatologist for Scandinavian Biolabs.