Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is much more common than many people think. Between 5% and15% of all women of reproductive age suffer from the condition – yet somehow, the disorder slips beneath the radar for many of us.
What is PCOS?
The condition itself occurs due to an imbalance between the sex hormones progesterone and oestrogen in a woman’s body, causing benign cysts to grow on the ovaries. Although there is still no proven scientific reason established for the onset of PCOS, those who suffer from the ailment suffer from a range of symptoms that heavily affect the way they live their daily lives.
From interrupted menstrual cycles and infertility, to unwanted weight gain and acne, PCOS can not only cause medical worries, but also affect the emotional wellbeing of the patient.
How does PCOS lead to hair loss?
One of the greatest causes for concern for those suffering from the condition is the incidence of hyperandrogenism – the increase in the male hormone androgen – that leads to an increase of hair growth in areas more traditionally associated with men such as the chest and chin, and a thinning of hair or even loss of hair as a result of androgenic alopecia.
What can be done with regard to PCOS and hair loss?
There are a number of both lifestyle and medical approaches that can aid individuals who suffer from the condition. However, as PCOS affects different women in different ways, it is always recommended to visit your GP to ensure the approaches undertaken are suitable for them.
Lifestyle and daily practice changes
There are simple key changes in one’s daily life that can help limit the effects of PCOS in relation to hair loss.
• Ensure that your diet, levels of exercise and levels of stress are maintained at healthy levels. PCOS can often lead to weight gain more easily for sufferers than those without the condition, so it is important to pay greater attention to these factors than ever before.
• Ensure that your hair is washed daily, and rinse well to prevent any chance of chemical build-up.
• When styling your hair, avoid harsh hand-brushes in favour of smoother combs that reduce the amount of physical stress on your hair while grooming.
• Ensure that any hair-bands, scrunchies or hair-clips do not put any undue strain on your hair as this can lead to breakages.
• If using a blow-dryer, keep the blower at least 6 inches from your head, and either increase the distance from the head, or reduce the heat from the blower as your hair gets dryer.
• Avoid playing with, or constantly pulling your hair throughout the day.
Due to the severity of the condition, there are a number of treatments that can be administered by medical professionals that have been known to aid those who suffer from PCOS.
• If you are not planning on getting pregnant, consult with your GP as to whether the use of birth-control pills would be suitable for you. Birth-control pills help to not only regulate the menstrual cycle, but also reduce the levels of male hormones such as testosterone and androgrens.
• Hormone therapy is another widely prescribed approach, but due to the complexity and possible side effects caused by the practice, your GP may demand that you undergo several tests for your own safety before administering the treatment.
• Surgery can be an option although it is obviously quite invasive. During the surgery, part of the ovary is destroyed by drilling into it and applying an electrical current to the affected areas. In many instances, surgery has been known to both reduce male hormones and encourage ovulation.
• A less invasive approach can be the use of supplements to suppress levels of testosterone.
• Although the reasoning for the success is not fully understood, use of the drug minoxidil has been proven to be very effective for increasing both the density and health of the hair on patient’s heads. Again, for this treatment, the decision is best made by your GP.
If you are worried about hair loss as a result of polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is always advisable to visit your GP to discuss the options that are available to you. However, we will always be available to provide additional support and offer a non surgical solution to help you recover from PCOS-related hair loss.
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