Estrogen is your hair's friend, not an enemy like androgen, a male hormone that promotes hair loss in both women and men. However, if there is an estrogen deficiency, which occurs during peri-menopause and menopause, or if your estrogen levels plummet after giving birth or stopping medication, it will impact your hair.
Birth Control and Pregnancy
Oral contraceptives contain the hormone estrogen. Estrogen stimulates and prolongs the growth phase of hair follicles. That is why pregnant women, who have high concentrations of estrogen, often have especially healthy and abundant hair. However, when the growth phase is prolonged by estrogen, and the hair does eventually shed, which is a normal part of the growing process, more hairs than usual will be sloughed off.
According to Dr. Frederick R. Jelovsek, M.D., M.S., about 10 percent of the hairs will reach the resting phase at the same time when a woman is taking oral contraceptives or post-pregnancy. This is a higher percentage than normal.
More Hair and More Hair Loss
About three months after the resting stage begins, the sloughing phase starts. Somewhere between 50 and 100 hairs will be lost each day for a while, which is more than is normally shed at one time. You are shedding the extra hair that the estrogen created. The outcome is that you are going to find a lot of hair in your hairbrush or going down the drain. So, in a nutshell, estrogen will result in fuller and healthier hair for a while and then cause you to lose more hair all at once.
If a woman stops taking oral contraceptives or, in the case of a menopausal woman, quits taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), this will prompt hair loss because her body no longer has that extra boost of estrogen, according to Inhairit.com. When your body is getting extra estrogen, during pregnancy or via HRT or oral contraceptives, a woman will actually have more hair than normal. After she gives birth, the estrogen levels eventually return to normal and the excess hair goes into the resting stage, which is called telogen, and the excess hairs will fall out about three months after giving birth.
Inhairit.com points out that losing the excess hairs that were grown because of excess estrogen is not a big deal; however, if hair loss occurs in the "normal" hairs, not in the excess ones, new hairs may not grow back in and this is considered a form of estrogen-related hair loss.
A condition called female alopecia, which is caused by low estrogen levels, results in hair loss. Menopausal women may experience this as can younger women who have low estrogen levels, according to Hormonehelpny.com.
Estrogen levels start to fall off as a woman enters into peri-menopause. Hair loss is one of the first signs that a woman is approaching menopause. Not all women will experience this but many do.
When permanent changes occur in hormone (estrogen) production, such as that which is brought about by menopause, a reduction in androgen antagonists, of which estrogen is one, occurs. Women start to have more male hormones and fewer female hormones, according to Thickerhair.com, which causes hair loss. Deficient levels of estrogen are unable to fight back and prevent this from happening.
Estrogen serves to reduce body hair and promote the growth of the hair on your head, unlike the male hormones testosterone and DHT (androgens), which promote hair loss on your head and an increase in body hair. If you possess normal levels of estrogen your risk of having female pattern baldness is reduced.
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