Pregnancy and Hair Loss
Hair growth and hair shedding patterns go through many natural cycles during a person's lifetime. However, some events like pregnancy can interrupt the natural cycle and result in a temporary change in those hair growth patterns.
Hair Growth Changes During PregnancyWhen a woman becomes pregnant her body begins to undergo some very significant hormonal changes. One of the changes, an increase in oestrogen production, can affect the Natural Hair Growth Cycle. Increased levels of estrogens during pregnancy cause some hair follicles to shift into the anagen (growth) phase of the cycle, so an above average number of follicles are producing hair during this time. The increased estrogens will also inhibit some follicles that are in the catagen (shedding) phase so less hair is lost during this time.
Because of these changes to the hair growth cycle, many pregnant women report experiencing a boost in hair thickness, hair volume, hair length, and general hair feel. However, this exciting period of hair growth is short-lived as the positive changes are replaced with somewhat negative ones after childbirth.
Hair Growth Changes After ChildbirthOnce a woman delivers a child and the placenta that nourished the child is also delivered, the female body experiences a dramatic drop in estrogens levels. In the absence of increased estrogens, and during other rapidly changing hormone levels, the hair follicles will generally enter the shedding phase. Other follicles will be affected during this time and enter the telogen (resting) phase. Since no new hair growth is being produced but hair shedding is increased dramatically, many women report significant hair loss during this period of time.
Although many women may become alarmed at the increased amount of hair that they find on the floor of the shower or gathered in their hairbrush, this condition is not usually cause for concern. Once the body readjusts itself to its pre-pregnancy levels of function, the hair growth cycle should also return to normal. Although this process is somewhat slow – in some cases taking up to one year to complete – women should notice decreased shedding and new hair growth about six months after childbirth.
When to WorryIn some cases, the temporary hair loss experienced after pregnancy may not right itself without medical attention. If hair loss continues for months after delivery, the body may still be experiencing a hormonal imbalance. In this case, a doctor can do some simple blood work and devise treatment that will get the hormonal levels back to normal. Once the treatment is complete hair growth patterns should return to normal very quickly.
In very rare cases, post-pregnancy hair loss can be permanent. However, this condition only persists if another type of underlying illness is contributing to the hair loss or the hormonal changes during the pregnancy were extremely severe. In both instances medical treatment should be able to halt the hair loss before it progresses any further.
Pregnancy and childbirth are very exciting times in a women's life. Temporary Hair Loss, no matter how unwelcome or overwhelming, should never interfere with the magic of this time.