Why is my hair falling out?
PCOS related hair loss is one of the most frustrating symptoms of PCOS and one that has a really negative impact on my self-confidence. Seeing that clump of hair in the shower leaves me feeling frustrated, upset and reminds me how Sh*t PCOS can be.
Like all other PCOS symptoms, it’s easy to be annoyed and let it get you down. Whilst I would always encourage you to take the time to feel all the feels and process what’s happening, I’d also encourage you to get curious – what is this symptom telling you and why has it shown up?
Let’s take a look at some of the facts:
Does PCOS cause hair loss?
Yes, PCOS causes an increase in male hormones, mainly testosterone which often results in acne, excess facial hair, anovulation and hair loss, also referred to as female pattern baldness.
What are the symptoms of PCOS related hair loss
Clumps of hair in the shower after washing
Excess hair in your brush
Hair on clothing and pillowcases
Once you’ve noticed these symptoms there’s a possibility that you’re experiencing an imbalance in your hormones. Most likely that your testosterone levels are too high.
What causes elevated testosterone levels?
One of the most common causes of elevated testosterone levels is elevated insulin levels. Around 70% of women with PCOS experience insulin resistance which leaves them with elevated insulin levels. This increase in insulin stimulates the ovaries to produce more testosterone. This means that the key to lowering your testosterone levels is working on insulin resistance.
Once I’d got over mourning another clump of hair lost to the drain, I started reflecting on what’s been going on and this is what I discovered:
- I’ve been really stressed and busy with work, trying to cram in everything and saying no to nothing. Whilst a day or two of being stressed is okay, when it goes on for a while and we expose our body to high levels of cortisol (our stress hormone) for long periods of time, insulin levels increase and our ovaries produce more testosterone
- I haven’t prioritized exercise. When we’re busy exercise is often one of the first things to fly out the window, this is certainly the case for me. Exercise causes our cells to become more sensitive to insulin which helps keep insulin levels down. It’s also really good for managing stress and keeping cortisol levels down.
- My supplements have fallen out of my routine. I try to keep my supplements where I see them every morning and evening but when I’m constantly rushing around, I keep looking at them and saying, ‘I’ll come back for those’ and never do. Inositol and Omega 3 are part of my everyday routine, and I can really notice when I stop taking them. Inositol helps improve insulin sensitivity and keeps my cycle regular due to its effects on ovulation. Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation. Did you know that low grade chronic inflammation is common in women with PCOS, and it contributes to increased insulin levels?
- I definitely haven’t had my 8 hours of sleep every night, welcome to mum life and hello 15-month sleep regression. Lack of sleep over a long period of time worsens insulin resistance which is why focusing on sleep hygiene and prioritizing sleep is important in managing PCOS.
- There’ve been a lot of snacks that are low in nutrients (oh hi easter eggs) and while I’m all for having everything in moderation, when we consume too many snacks of low nutritional value (chocolates, crisps, biscuits) we leave less room for snacks with a higher nutritional value (fruits, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats). The sugars in chocolates and biscuits can increase inflammation, whereas fruits and vegetables have an antioxidant effect helping to reduce inflammation. You can quickly see why we need to have a balance of the two.
- I’ve recently had my hair coloured. It was such a great idea at the time, and I really needed something to make me feel a little brighter, but peroxide can weaken hair and encourage hair loss. Exposing your hair to high temperatures can also impact the strength of your hair which is why I try and use a hair dryer and straightener as little as possible.
Getting curious has made me realise I’ve let life get in the way and have not focused enough on me over the last couple of weeks. My curiosity has helped me understand what’s going on and what I need to change to start managing my PCOS a bit better.
It feels so silly because PCOS is my thing – I help women manage their PCOS every day. But at the end of the day, I’m human too and juggling a business, being a mum, a fiancé, trying to have a social life and run a household gets a little crazy. And that’s the thing about PCOS, you don’t simply fix it and it’s gone – you need to keep working on it or your symptoms come back.