Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause a number of problems for women, one of which being hair loss. Today, we’re taking a look at PCOS and the medications used by those with the condition to see if PCOS hair loss can be reversed.
The female body produces male hormones, also called androgens (including testosterone) – this is completely normal. These androgens play a role in triggering puberty and stimulating hair growth in the underarms and other areas.
Those with PCOS can experience extra androgen production which can lead to the development of more masculine features including excess hair growth in places such as the face, neck, chest and abdomen.
The extra androgens can cause hair on the hair to thin, especially towards the front of the scalp. This process is known as androgenic alopecia or female pattern hair loss.
Hair loss due to PCOS won’t grow back on its own. Female pattern hair loss happens when testosterone is broken down to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) within the hair follicles gland. DHT binds to receptors in the hair follicle and shrinks it. This disrupts the hair growth cycle and hair sheds faster than it can grow leading to thinning hair.
There are some medications that can work towards stopping the effects that PCOS has on the hair, there are also treatments that can work towards restoring the appearance of a fuller head of hair.
Spironolactone is a drug often prescribed for PCOS hair loss, the drug works by fitting into the receptor site of the hair follicle and stopping testosterone getting there. During this process, it can cause a lot of damage and disrupt ovulation, estrogen metabolism, and adrenal function – which means it could be causing more harm than good.
Taken an oral contraceptive pill can lower androgen levels in the body. This can help to reduce excess hair growth and slow down hair loss. The medication can also help with other PCOS symptoms such as irregular periods and acne.
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved drug that can be used for treating female pattern baldness, the topical treatment can be applied to the scalp daily to promote hair growth and build on the appearance of thickness.
Finasteride is also approved by the FDA, however, this is for treating male pattern hair loss. While the drug has not been approved for the treatment of female pattern hair loss, some doctors will prescribe it to those with PCOS. There is some evidence that the drug can help with PCOS related hair loss, however, it is not always a good option due to side effects in women.
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure that is used to implant hair from one area of the scalp to another. This is used to help areas of thinning hair appear fuller whilst keep a natural-looking appearance.
Before looking into treatments and medications it’s important to remember that any hair loss due to PCOS won’t grow back, however, some of these treatments can stimulate the growth of new hair as well as treatments that can help mask PCOS-related hair loss.