Endometriosis is a painful disease in which the endometrial tissue (lining the uterus) starts to grow outside of the uterus.
While it may seem unrelated to hair loss, endometriosis can cause hair loss in many ways, even if indirectly. And this hair loss isn’t always temporary or reversible.
Unfortunately, endometriosis is a long-term condition without any cure. However, there are treatments that can help manage its symptoms. And sometimes, it’s these very treatments that can end up causing hair loss.
Still, there might be some ways for you to deal with this endometriosis hair loss. In this guide, you’ll learn more about what exactly causes this hair loss and what can be done.
Does Endometriosis Cause Hair Loss?
Endometriosis can indirectly cause hair loss as a side effect of its treatments, hormonal issues, nutritional problems, comorbidities, and stress.
In endometriosis, the tissue lining the uterus can grow on ovaries, pelvic cavity lining, fallopian tubes, outside the uterus, and rarely, stomach, intestines, and rectum, among other organs.
Normally, the endometrial tissue lining the uterus is shed with each menstrual cycle. However, when it grows on other organs of the body, it has no way to get out. As a result, it’s trapped in the pelvic region, which becomes inflamed and scarred.
While hair loss may not be a symptom of this condition, it has other signs, such as:
- Pain during periods, sex, urination, and defecation
- Pelvic pain
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Irregular periods
The symptoms can also vary depending on the affected organ. And because of the physical intensity of this condition, a person’s quality of life may also be affected. That may also contribute to hair loss.
Why Does Endometriosis Cause Hair Loss?
Let’s take a closer look at the different ways in which endometriosis can cause hair loss.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, high oestrogen production has been associated with endometriosis.
It’s triggered 2-3 months after the stressful event and causes diffuse shedding that’s more than usual.
Side Effect Of Treatments
The medications and therapies for endometriosis can also cause hair loss.
For instance, NSAIDs – to help with pain – like ibuprofen can cause telogen effluvium. But since it’s generally temporary, your hair should grow back.
The hormonal medication, on the other hand, is more problematic in this regard. For one, birth control is used to control the growth of new endometrial tissue.
For this, different progestin (synthetic progesterone) contraceptives, GnRH agonists, combined contraceptives, and androgenic hormone medication may be used.
GnRH agonists – which help decrease oestrogen production – can also cause hair loss. The same goes for combined contraceptives.
And as far as the androgenic hormone is concerned, it’s danazol that’s given to again control the production of oestrogen. Hair loss is a side effect of that as well. And even though it’s a weak androgen, it may worsen female pattern baldness.
Aromatase inhibitors are another hormonal therapy that’s considered beneficial for endometriosis; thinning has been reported with this as well.
In fact, a case study in Annals of Oncology also reports “pseudo male pattern androgenetic alopecia” in women from the intake of aromatase inhibitors.
Other than the medications, surgery (like laparoscopic surgery) for endometriosis can also cause hair loss due to telogen effluvium.
The bleeding caused by endometriosis can cause anaemia and low iron. Deficiency of this mineral has been linked to hair loss because the oxygen supply of hair follicles is affected.
Other Health Problems
Endometriosis can also cause indirect hair loss because of its association with other health problems like cancer and autoimmune diseases.
A review and meta-analysis published in Human Reproduction Update reported the following autoimmune disease to be comorbid with endometriosis:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Autoimmune thyroid disorder
- Coeliac disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Addison’s disease
While the study had some issues, it’s still considered insightful on how endometriosis may be associated with other illnesses.
Another study published in Dermatol Sin also found that people with endometriosis were at an increased risk of developing alopecia areata.
It’s a type of autoimmune disease in which the hair follicles are attacked, resulting in hair loss.
Hair loss in endometriosis can be a consequence of the physical and mental toll of this very condition.
It can cause anxiety and depression, and some of its symptoms, like infertility, can be hard to deal with.
Stress can trigger alopecia areata and telogen effluvium. But it can also cause alopecia through a self-induced hair-pulling disorder known as trichotillomania.
How To Stop Hair Loss From Endometriosis?
To stop hair loss from endometriosis, it’s important to get a diagnosis of the underlying cause.
It’s possible that the management of this condition itself may help with some types of hair loss. Telogen effluvium is temporary, so your hair should grow back in a few months.
If, however, your medication is causing hair loss, you should consult your doctor. They may provide you with some other treatment options. But don’t discontinue any medication without talking to them.
And if your nutrition is a problem, your doctor might recommend some dietary changes with supplements to fix that.
For your stress, you can consider doing exercise or yoga. You can also consider seeking the help of a medical professional here.
Is Endometriosis Hair Loss Reversible?
Endometriosis hair loss may not always be reversible.
In cases where it leads to pattern baldness, it might not be possible to grow your hair back. Androgenetic alopecia miniaturises the follicles and causes permanent baldness.
On the other hand, if you have telogen effluvium, you can reverse your hair loss. But hair regrowth will take some time.
Endometriosis can be a painful condition to live with. While experiencing hair loss with it might not seem like a big deal, it can actually be one.
And this is especially true if you’re genetically prone to androgenetic alopecia. That’s because some medications for endometriosis can contribute to it.
If you’re losing your hair though, make sure to get in touch with a qualified medical professional. Hair loss has many causes. Treatment for hair loss should start after you have a diagnosis.
Reviewed and approved by Dr Hassan Soueid