And it’s important to keep in mind that estrogen imbalance isn’t always caused by an underlying illness. Even normal biological processes like menopause can upset the natural balance of hormones in your body.
So, the hair loss resulting from it isn’t always avoidable. Still, there are some things that might help you stop or even reverse your estrogen hair loss.
In this guide, you’ll learn how estrogen and hair loss are linked to each other and how you can use this hormone to even grow your hair.
What Is Estrogen?
Estrogen is a sex steroid hormone that plays a very important role in the health of a woman.
Although it’s a sex hormone (for sexual and reproductive development), it also has other functions in the body, such as:
- Growth and development of bones
- Keeps cholesterol low
- Keeps blood pressure stable
- Protects the heart by keeping tissue healthy
- Improves muscle mass and strength
- Keeps skin healthy and youthful
- Helps in hair growth
There are actually three types of estrogens in the body: estradiol (most common), estrone and estriol. All of them can be found at different stages of life.
For instance, estradiol is there during the reproductive years, from the first period to the last one. Estrone comes after menopause and estriol during pregnancy.
And this hormone isn’t just found in women. Men also have this hormone, although in smaller quantities.
In them, it helps in the making of sperm, libido, and getting an erection. Additionally, it plays a role in bone health.
Therefore, the balance of this hormone helps the body in many ways. When it gets too high or too low, it can be because of an illness.
How Does Estrogen Cause Hair Loss?
There are estrogen receptors on hair follicles. And by binding to these receptors, estrogens influence the growth of the hair follicles.
However, problems occur when the normal balance of this hormone is disrupted due to different reasons like pregnancy, menopause, illnesses, and medication.
Let’s take a closer look at each to understand how estrogen and hair loss are connected to each other. .
There’s a lot that estrogen does during pregnancy to support it.
It plays an important role in the development of the fetus and its organs. Together with other hormones, it also increases the milk ducts in the breasts to prepare the body for lactation.
The level of estrogen continues to increase during the pregnancy, but it peaks around the 32-week (third trimester). And while it’ll cause many bodily changes, it’ll also affect your hair.
Many women feel that their hair is thicker during pregnancy, and this is owing to the effects of estrogen.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, high levels of estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and growth factors increase hair growth.
The thickness of the hair shaft (diameter) also increases. The hair also stays in the growing (anagen) phase of the growth cycle for longer, so you’ll have less hair fall.
However, all this changes a few months after pregnancy once the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop.
Here, it’s also important to note that, on the flip side, some women also experience hair loss during pregnancy. This may occur due to hormonal changes from the pregnancy and/or stress.
Once you’ve entered menopause, there’ll be a permanent drop in the estrogen levels in your body. This happens because of the depletion of the ovarian follicles (which produces most estrogen).
And that can also trigger hair loss. While hormonal imbalance can shock the system and cause temporary effluvium, menopausal hair loss can be more permanent.
That’s because it’s believed that menopause plays a role in the development of female pattern hair loss. Also known as androgenetic alopecia, it’s a type of permanent hair loss that can cause diffuse or patterned hair loss.
In this condition, the hair follicles are miniaturized, resulting in the thinning of hair and eventual balding.
Because female pattern hair loss occurs most commonly after menopause, it’s thought to be connected to the drop in the level of estrogen.
Besides normal biological processes, estrogen imbalance can also occur due to health problems. That can, in turn, also cause hair loss.
For instance, high estrogen can be caused by:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine fibroids
- Aromatase excess syndrome
This list is not exhaustive. And high estrogen can also be caused by other factors.
For instance, xenoestrogen (found in plastic, preservatives, pesticides, etc.) is an industrial chemical that can mimic estrogen and increase its levels in the body.
Just by upsetting the hormone balance, high estrogen may cause hair loss due to telogen effluvium. And the same may happen if you have low levels of estrogen.
Medication & Therapies
Certain treatments and medications can also cause an estrogen imbalance and that may, again, cause hair loss.
For instance, aromatase inhibitors are a class of drugs that are used for the treatment of breast cancer. Since the cancer needs estrogen to grow, these drugs reduce their levels in the body.
One side effect of these drugs, however, can be hair loss. It may trigger telogen effluvium. And it might even kick off female pattern hair loss.
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) have especially been associated with the latter.
Low estrogen can also be caused by chemo and radiotherapy due to injury to the ovaries. Also, if your ovary is surgically removed (like in an ovariotomy), that can also cause a drop in estrogen levels.
On the other hand, treatments like hormone replacement therapy and in-vitro fertilization can cause high estrogen, which may also cause thinning.
Can Estrogen Dominance Cause Hair Loss?
An estrogen dominance state is one in which estrogen levels are higher than progesterone levels in the body. It can be caused by the overproduction of estrogen or the underproduction of progesterone.
Other than having serious health consequences for your body (e.g. tumors), it may also end up causing hair loss.
And it’s not just the high levels of estrogen that are causing this problem.
It’s important to keep in mind that progesterone also plays a role in hair growth. And when there isn’t enough of it, that may also affect your hair.
How To Stop Estrogen Hair Loss?
To stop estrogen hair loss, it’s important to get a diagnosis of the underlying cause of hair loss.
If you have postpartum hair loss, your doctor might recommend minoxidil. It’s an FDA-approved hair loss drug that’s believed to increase blood flow to the scalp. Although, it can have some unpleasant side effects.
But if you have localized pattern baldness or any other permanent alopecia, you can permanently and effectively restore your hair through hair transplant surgery.
Although if there’s an underlying illness that’s causing your hormonal imbalance, it’s important to get treatment for it.
Other than that, it’s also important for you to take good care of yourself by eating well and having an active and healthy lifestyle.
In addition to using gentle hair products, don’t tie your hair too tightly or use a lot of heat styling tools to prevent your hair loss from worsening.
Will Estrogen Help Hair Growth?
Estrogen has been used for hair growth. For instance, low-androgen index birth control pills can promote hair growth by prolonging the duration of the anagen phase.
Combined oral contraceptives (contains both estrogen and progesterone) can also reduce the levels of free testosterone in the body, which may help with female pattern hair loss.
An animal model study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology also showed the potential use of topical estrogens for chemo-induced alopecia.
There’s another way in which estrogen has helped with hair growth in women: hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
On its own, this therapy is rarely, if ever, recommended for hair loss because of its very serious side effects.
But if you’re on it (helps with menopause symptoms), you may notice an improvement in your hair loss because of estrogen and progesterone replenishment.
However, keep in mind that HRT can also cause too much estrogen, and that may end up causing hair loss instead.
Estrogen and hair loss are intricately linked to each other. There’s no doubt that this hormone helps in the growth of hair. Its low levels have been linked to permanent female pattern hair loss.
However, on the other hand, too much of it isn’t good either. It can cause health problems, and the hormonal shift may also trigger temporary telogen effluvium.
But on the other hand, this isn’t always the case either. In pregnancy, high levels of estrogen actually promote hair growth. Needless to say, the relationship between estrogen and hair loss is not so easy or simple.
And if you’re losing your hair, you should get in touch with a medical professional to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Reviewed and approved by Dr Hassan Soueid
Can estrogen cause hair loss in males?
While estrogen is an important hormone even in men, there’s not sufficient evidence to suggest that it affects hair growth in them. But an abnormal fluctuation in the levels of estrogen can cause health problems.
Can too much estrogen cause hair loss?
In general, hormonal shifts (like that can be caused by high estrogen) can trigger hair loss. Moreover, high estrogen can also cause health issues like heavy periods, which can also lead to hair loss.
Will low estrogen cause hair loss?
Low estrogen has been linked to female pattern hair loss. This type of hair loss commonly develops after menopause when the estrogen levels drop.
Can taking estrogen reverse hair loss?
It may be possible for your hair to regrow with estrogen therapy. However, you must consult a medical professional for this.