birth control and hair loss
Written by
Morgan German
Medically approved by
Ahmad Chaudhry M.D.

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.

Source: The Doctors

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 medical history of pattern baldness should avoid taking hormonal birth control pills and should opt for non-hormonal birth control pills.

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 on table

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?

birth control pill 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.

Identify the early signs of balding here to stop it in time!

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

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.

Learn the ways 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

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

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.

Other rare, but possible, causes of hair loss:

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

Treatment for birth control hair loss

minoxidil treatment for birth control hair loss

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 the only treatment of hair loss in women approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

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.

In fact, we guarantee it. If you don't see any results within 150 days, we refund 100% - no questions asked.

Stopping birth control hair loss: will your hair regrow?

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.

Conclusion

However, sometimes birth control pills can also help in controlling hair loss. This happened because of estrogen found in the birth control pill. Some women have imbalanced hormones and have more testosterone in their system than they should and having more estrogen in the body can help with balancing out the hormones. This way the hair loss will be prevented.

In any case, if you are experiencing hair loss, you should immediately contact your doctor or discontinue taking the pills. Moreover, it is important to consider your family's medical history when you decide to take birth control pills. There are non-hormonal pills available for people who might have a high risk of pattern hair loss or androgenic alopecia. These pills contain estrogen and less progestin and have less androgenic activity. This way, your hair growth cycle will be in the growing phase for a longer period.

However, non-hormonal birth control pills can also have some side effects therefore it is recommended to consult your doctor before making a final decision.

Read more:

References

  1. Huang SJ. What Happens During the Anagen Phase of Hair Growth [Internet]. [cited 2021 Sep 28]. Available from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-the-anagen-phase-of-hair-growth-1069411

  2. Brannon HL. The Telogen Phase of the Hair Cycle [Internet]. [cited 2021 Sep 28]. Available from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/telogen-phase-1069283

  3. Minipill Progestin-Only Birth Control [Internet]. [cited 2021 Sep 28]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/mini-pill

  4. Boutot M, Laurie Ray DNP. Androgens 101 [Internet]. Clue. 2019 [cited 2021 Sep 28]. Available from: https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/androgens-101

  5. Website [Internet]. Available from: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes

  6. Androgenic Alopecia.

  7. Strasser I. “When I Get Older Losing My Hair...” - Individuals’ Concepts of Successful Aging [Internet]. Vol. 13, International Journal of Developmental Science. 2019. p. 53–65. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/dev-180258

  8. Drake MY. Baldness (Alopecia) - Causes, Treatments and Chemotherapy: Index of New Information. 1998. 150 p.

  9. Phillips TG, Slomiany WP, Allison R. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2017 Sep 15;96(6):371–8.

  10. Vahabi-Amlashi S, Layegh P, Kiafar B, Hoseininezhad M, Abbaspour M, Khaniki SH, et al. A randomized clinical trial on therapeutic effects of 0.25 mg oral minoxidil tablets on treatment of female pattern hair loss. Dermatol Ther. 2021 Sep 16;e15131.