What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a common endocrine disorder in women wherein a number of cysts can be found in the ovaries that cause hormonal imbalance. How are PCOS and hair loss related? The answer is simple, hair is very sensitive to hormonal changes and may cause hair to become thinner or even fall off. In PCOS, there is a huge increase in male hormones specifically testosterone that is later on converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is normal for women to have male hormones but it should be in trace or small amounts only such as testosterone. DHT, which is a byproduct of a male hormone, has been associated with hereditary male baldness. This hormone clings to hair follicles and causes hair to stop growing and eventually fall off. It can even block hair follicles and prevent it from growing. In females, this is called androgenic alopecia.
- Correct the hormonal imbalance – Hormonal levels must be checked first. Seek the expertise of a gynecologist. Although PCOS is not curable, it can still be managed with proper medications. Some are advised to take oral contraceptives or an intrauterine system. Both are used to decrease androgens or male hormones. Some even undergo ovarian drilling; a procedure wherein a small incision is made on the abdomen and a laparoscopic device is inserted. A surgical instrument would then produce heat or laser to destroy androgen-producing tissues. After undergoing this procedure, it was found to greatly reduce androgen hormones and luteinizing hormone. Follicle stimulating hormone, which corrects hormonal imbalance and promotes hair growth, increased in patients who went through the said procedure
- Weight Management – Reducing weight and reaching a normal body mass index has been shown to improve hair growth. BMI calculators can be found on the internet. Try to compute yours so you can achieve it. It is important to reduce weight gradually. Any sudden decrease in weight can have a reverse effect and can worsen the hair thinning. The body needs nutrients to produce healthy hair. Depriving yourself from these can have a significant effect. Eating the right amount of food on time can help regulate insulin levels in the body. Keeping the insulin in normal levels was found to be helpful in patients suffering from PCOS and hair loss.
- Healthy Lifestyle and Exercise – Some forms of exercise such as aerobics can help balance the hormones in the body. Exercise helps reduce testosterone thereby diminishing the symptoms of PCOS. Getting enough rest and sleep is another solution to this. Lack of sleep can cause hormones to go berserk and affects hair growth.
- Stress management – It is important to learn how keep yourself stress free. Find something that will help you relax. Stress from physical trauma or life events can affect hormones.
- Self Care – Protect hair from pollutants or harsh chemicals. Wash hair on a regular basis using products that are mild and some emphasize the importance of using organic products.
- Natural supplements – Supplements may be considered especially those that contain vitamin B, magnesium, biotin and zinc. Some also consider the extract found in saw palmetto. It was found to improve hair growth by preventing the conversion of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This hormone was found to cause hair loss. There are also topical solutions available in the market. But it is important to consult all these with your health practitioner.