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?
Check your Thyroid
A 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
- Weight gain
- Heavy and prolonged menstruation
- High cholesterol
- 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.
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
I 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!