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PCOS and Alopecia: What you can do about it

We have previously looked at the causes of hair loss, as it relates to PCOS. This is one of the more embarrassing and difficult to hide symptoms of PCOS and I often get emails from ladies asking what they can do about it.

Just to recap, we know that hair loss is often caused by high testosterone levels which can be managed with a good PCOS diet, supplements and exercise. But what if you have tried all of that and still need some help? What are the other options available to you?

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Check your Thyroid

PCOS and Alopecia thyroidA recent study has shown that women with PCOS also have a three times greater chance of also having Autoimmune Thyroiditis (Hashimotos disease). (1). This is why it is a good idea to have your thyroid function checked on a regular basis. My GP has advised that I should have blood tests every two years (I am not currently on any medication or medical treatment for my PCOS).

The symptoms of Hashimotos disease or autoimmune thyroiditis include (2):

  • Hair loss
  • Infertility
  • Weight gain
  • Heavy and prolonged menstruation
  • High cholesterol
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Muscle and joint stiffness

It all sounds familiar doesn’t it? I suffer from some of these symptoms (difficulty losing weight and fertility difficulties) but I know this is as a result of my PCOS, not Hashimotos as I have recently had my thyroid function checked. If you are experiencing hair loss and have tried all of the PCOS diet and supplement advice and have not seen any improvements, it may well be worth having your thyroid function checked as this may be the underlying cause for a lot of your symptoms.


There are medications that can be prescribed to help address those high testosterone levels. You obviously need to speak to your doctor about this. Before we get into that, though, I just wanted to point out that these medications will put a band aid on the problem and will not necessarily address the underlying cause of high testosterone levels, like a PCOS diet will.

Birth Control:

There are certain birth control pills that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of PCOS and hair loss. This may be worth considering if you are not trying to conceive (3).


This is actually a diuretic but it has the added advantage of lowering testosterone levels. It is often prescribed to manage increased hair growth but will also help with hair loss.


I’m sure many of you already know all about Metformin but it is a medication that is frequently prescribed to Type 2 diabetics to help them manage their insulin and blood sugars. If you can control your insulin levels, you will also better manage your testosterone levels which will help with your hair loss.

Hair Transplant Surgery

Hair transplant surgery is often successful for women with PCOS, depending on the type of hair loss you experience. During the procedure, hair follicles are harvested from sites where there is healthy hair growth and transplanted to areas where there is thinning. This works particularly well if you have male pattern baldness like receding hair line or hair loss on the top of your head. (4)

It doesn’t work so well, however, if you have hair thinning and hair loss from your entire head as finding healthy donor sites can be tricky.

It’s also important to point out that hair transplant surgery is not going to address the underlying cause of the problem and your high testosterone levels.

An Unusual Home Remedy

apple cider vinegar pcos and alopeciaI recently stumbled on an unusual, inexpensive home remedy for improving hair health. It’s not used directly to address thinning hair but before and after pictures definitely show an improvement in hair health and thickness. The remedy involves baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Why not check out Lauren Chiodo-Benmuvhar’s blog for more info on the in’s and out’s and try it for yourself? Best of all, it’s not going to cost you a small fortune!

Summing It Up:

So, to sum it all up for hair loss and PCOS, we need to remember a couple of things:

  • Hair loss is caused by high testosterone levels and this needs to be addressed to see improvements in this symptom. You can manage high testosterone naturally through a good PCOS diet, supplements and exercise.
  • Hair loss can also by caused by Hashimotos disease so it’s worth having your thyroid function checked.
  • There are medication available to address high testosterone levels. You need to speak to your doctor if you’re interested in pursuing these.
  • Hair transplant surgery may be an option for you if you have male pattern baldness but it won’t address the underlying testosterone issue.
  • Baking soda and apple cider vinegar are a simple home remedy that could really improve the health of your hair.

If you’ve tried anything else to help with hair loss, I’d love to hear about it! Please leave me a comment below!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

15 Responses

15 Responses

  1. Hi,
    My name is Ervin, my wife suffers from pcos and she has lost a lot of hair due to that. Her hair loss is very similar to male pattern baldness. Is hair transplant an option? And even if say it is, won’t the transplanted hairs fall out eventually? Please help me with some information, we are in a desperate situation and really need some help and information.


  2. I have had had alopecia several times now. The 1st time was about 20yrs ago long before I was diagnosed with pcos. I was referred to a dermatologist who gave me a prescription for Betnovate scalp application, within a couple of months or so the hair had grown back & I didn’t need any further appointments. have since had it another 4 times each worse than the last but each time it has grown back eventually to how my hair was before after the Betnovate treatment. I have it again now so I went back to the doctor & got another prescription, it’s early days but it seems to be growing back, hopefully I’ll be lucky again & it will all grow back.
    For me it seems to happen when I have long term stress, eg I was made redundant at the start of this year & was out of work for about 7months.
    Hopefully Betnovate solution will be able to help some of you to get your hair to grow back. It has to be applied to the area once in the morning & again in the evening to the affected areas.

  3. Im wearing a wig after everything else Ive tried has failed. It gives me a certain sense of reassurance while I find a real cure. Its nice to have found a place for likeminded women

  4. Hello,

    I am on spironolactone for PCOS…my major concern was the rapid hair growth. I was also losing a lot of hair..and still am. I am not sure if I have a thyroid issue because my levels are kind of on the lower side of normal or if it is the medicine not full kicking in yet (as I have only been on it for a little over a month), but I am still losing hair and am extremely tired. I do not have high blood pressure so my concern is that the medicine is lowering mine more than it should when working to decrease my testosterone or I am not drinking enough water. I like to work out but feel like I have no energy. What are you thoughts on pre-workout drinks, amino acid energy, and protein powders? I take it to give me energy for the gym and refuel my muscles after, however I recently stopped. I am wondering if it is increasing my PCOS or if I should not be taking it with my medicine.

  5. Hello. I have been trying to follow the PCOS diet for about a month, have been taking birth control for 1 year, and diagnosed with PCOS a year ago. Just this past week I’ve noticed my hair thining. Not sure if I’m imaging it or if it’s really happening. I take a multi vitamin, vitamin d, and drink spearmint tea. Wondering if biotin is something good to help with hair loss/thinning. I want to be informed and have options to help regrow and thicken.

  6. I don’t know about PCOS regrowth yet as that hair loss is new for me, but I was anemic about a year ago and the hair did grow back quickly after taking my iron prescription. I know it’s not the same thing necessarily, but some hair loss is reversible in general at least 🙂

  7. i was diagnosed with pcos about 5/6 yrs ago. i was told to lose weight and it will be under control. i never took pcos seriously because i only had bad acne and no other symptoms until, i notice my hair has thinned out in the front. No one noticed it but still its upsetting. I saw my dermatologist about it and she said it is from the pcos. I freak out and started crying she assured me that it will grow back once pcos is regulated. I made an apt with an obgyn who specializes in endocrinology/infertility. i wish i was told to see a specialist when i was first told that i have pcos. i have been exercising and eating healthy. I am tired of worrying about my hair. i feel like it is shedding too much. Does hair really grow back once the pcos is regulated?

    1. I’m worried about the same thing 🙁 Please someone answer, will the hair grow back if diet is under control and regular exercise is incorporated? I’ve been shedding too much and I feel that my situation is hopeless. Will I get my hair back?

  8. I have noticed my hair’s been thinning out for quite a few months, been really getting my down, but does that mean that my hair isn’t going to be back to how it used to be regardless of how much a change my diet and try stuff to counter it? :s haha

    1. i am asking the same question. My dermatologist told me it will grow back once pcos is regulated. She told me use rogaine as a last resort. I hope she is right.

  9. I was trying to check out Lauren’s blog about th home remendy for hair loss using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I clicked on it and it said that it did not exist. I would like the info on that please. It would be useful. Thanks!

    1. I’m not sure that it is very scientifically researched, most of what I have read about it doesn’t state any research, and the websites seem to contradict each other….I too suffer from thinning hair, but I think the best approach is to improve your diet, keep exercising, and take supplements that have some scientific backing. That is the approach I am going to take. I think it’s easy to grab onto to anything we think might help, it’s a hard thing to deal with.

  10. I have just started with patchy bald spots. My sister bought me some brown tinted dry shampoo and it has been a fabulous cover-up until I figure out what is going on…please share with your readers…I am so thankful to have found this product.

    1. The more common manifestation of female hair loss for PCOS sufferers is diffuse thinning not patchy hair loss. It is possible your patchy hair loss could be a result of a different kind of issue like gluten intolerance or an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the scalp. May be worth looking into.

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