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PCOS and Hair Loss: What You Can Do
“You likely have a condition commonly referred to as PCOS.” The sweet lady doctor said to me out of the blue one day. I was only 17 when my OB/GYN diagnosed me with polycystic ovarian syndrome. I had been experiencing wildly irregular periods, I had facial hair growing from my chin and upper lip, and my menstrual cramps were beyond painful. Friends and family had recommended going on birth control to help regulate my cycle and calm down the pain, but I wondered why I was suffering when my peers did not seem to be. What made me different?
What Is PCOS?
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is what it sounds like: unbalanced hormones create small collections of fluid on the ovaries, so your ovaries fail to release eggs regularly. Women with PCOS typically have excess androgen, the male hormone, which is responsible for facial hair.
Doctors are not yet clear on the exact cause of PCOS, but it does seem in many cases to be hereditary. Often, the causes and the symptoms seem to be intertwined.
- Irregular Periods
- Excess Androgen
- Facial Hair
- Weight Gain
- Hair Loss
- Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
PCOS: It’s All Connected
The thing to remember about causes and symptoms is that often health issues are both intertwined and self-prophetic. Essentially, an unhealthy diet and excessive weight gain can lead to triggering PCOS, and/or PCOS can lead to an unhealthy diet and excessive weight gain. Both can then lead to diabetes, facial hair, depression, infertility, and so on.
It’s all connected, and what can spiral downward can also spiral upward. You can lose control of your health in the exact opposite way that you can gain control of your health.
PCOS: A Personal Story
For example, when I discovered I had PCOS, I took control of my health. I changed the way I ate, adding in a salad for one meal each day. I began to run five miles a day, five days a week. I focused on healthy, regular sleep patterns, and I drank lots of water. And that was all as a teenager. I ultimately lost 25 pounds and got into great shape. My periods got more regular, my moods leveled out, and my facial hair diminished.
Later, as I entered college and then graduate school, I found myself gaining weight, and all my symptoms came back. I did not worry too much about it, since I was on birth control, and the symptoms were not too extreme. Then, when I wanted to get pregnant for the first time with my husband, I knew I had to get serious about my health again.
It took two years and drastic health changes, introducing all-natural, plant-based foods into my diet, switching to a mostly organic selection of foods, rethinking the chemicals in my hair and skincare products, and more.
After dropping 50 pounds, the very first month I dropped into a healthy BMI range, I got pregnant.
All of which to say, and the evidence backs me up on this, that health and weight seem directly related to PCOS triggers, and PCOS seems to trigger an avalanche of health and weight triggers. Thus, it is incumbent upon those of us with the condition to take our health much more seriously than perhaps women without these hormonal concerns do.
PCOS: Hair Loss and What to Do About It
Having said all of that, you can mediate the symptoms of PCOS, including hair loss, in the same ways you would mediate any other hormonal imbalance. You have to find the right set of tools and resources that work for you, but the bottom line is this: PCOS causes excess androgen, or androgen causes PCOS, or both, which means you have extra male hormones, which can lead to male pattern baldness, which women experience as hair loss.
You can take control of this excess hormone by taking control of your health, which has enormous potential to bring your hormones back into balance. Start with the basics: drink lots of water, eat lots of fruits and veggies, sleep 8 hours a night, manage your stress (this is a big one!), exercise, and lose weight.
Exercise and weight loss seem to be major factors in PCOS; they trigger a mechanism in your body that balances your hormones, which is your primary goal if attempting to control PCOS. Exercise vigorously most days of the week and find a healthy weight loss lifestyle that works for you, so you can achieve long-term success.
All these changes will see your hair grow healthier and stay healthy longer.
To Avoid Hair Loss, Avoid Chemicals
Remember also that what you put on your hair matters just as much as what you put in your body. Check your list of ingredients on your shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products. Integrate some hair oils to support your naturally occurring oils on your scalp and protect your hair from harsh chemicals like chlorine and from excessive exposure to the sun.
Wow Skin Science has a wide range of all-natural hair products, from shampoo and conditioner to hair oil and hair mask, not to mention a scalp brush for a gentle massage. You can browse the website and see what you may want to build into your hair care routine as an added tool in your kit against hair loss.
National Hair Loss Awareness Month
August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month, and because, in the US, nearly 56 million adults face hair loss, it is imperative to note the critical nature of self-care. For some, hair loss is simply an inevitability. But for most, and especially for women with PCOS, simple changes in daily habits and lifestyle can have an enormous impact on your overall health, including the health of your hair. Start with one change and start today. You deserve it.