The hard part about losing your hair permanently is that it ends up making you feel dejected. It can make you feel like you have no control over what you can and cannot do with your body.
Sometimes the circumstances are beyond our control. This is what happens when people lose their hair as a result of hormones. And that’s why some people consider getting hormone replacement therapy.
Hair loss has many causes and it can also be hormonal. Women experience hair loss as a result of hormonal changes that they naturally go through as they age.
On approaching menopause, the levels of the hormone oestrogen and progesterone drop. This process also increases androgen activity. This essentially results in women experiencing female pattern hair loss.
However, to not deal with the many unpleasant effects of menopause, some women consider menopausal hormone therapy. And since menopause can cause hair loss, does hormone therapy offer an effective solution? That’s what we’re going to find out here.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
The idea behind hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is simple. Since the levels of oestrogen and progesterone hormones are dropping, replace them. This will help relieve the symptoms that come with it.
Many people then ask, “Can you have periods while on hormone replacement therapy?” According to Mayo Clinic, yes, you can have light or heavy bleeding as a result of this. However, it doesn’t always happen due to HRT. If it’s concerning, you should see your doctor.
Low levels of oestrogen can increase the risk of stroke and cause high cholesterol, so your doctor might recommend this treatment to you for that too. However, not everyone is suitable for it.
If a person’s blood pressure is not normal, they cannot undergo HRT as it can increase the risk of breast cancer. Moreover, it is not suitable for those who have a history of cancer or blood clots. Women who are pregnant can also not have HRT. If a person has liver disease, they, too, cannot have this therapy.
HRT for Transgenders
Hormone therapy is given to those who are transitioning from one gender to another. One case study showed that a transgender woman who was on “hormone therapy with oral estradiol and spironolactone” experienced increased hair growth. The reason behind it is that the levels of testosterone and resulting DHT decreased.
DHT hormone is directly responsible for causing pattern baldness in males. People who are transitioning from males to females might notice that their hair growth has gotten better. They might notice an increase in overall hair density and thickness.
What Are the Signs that You Need Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy?
Women stop having periods as a result of ageing (menopause). Their reproductive system will slowly stop working as they are getting older. The hormones their body produces will decrease. This process can cause some changes in their body, such as hot flashes, excessive sweating, and red skin.
Also, many women may experience a degree of female pattern hair loss. If there’s a genetic predisposition to hair loss, they’ll notice more pronounced hair loss.
The anagen phase of the hair growth cycle will continue to decrease. Follicular miniaturization starts occurring when thin, terminal hair is replaced by short, thin vellus hair.
Other than hair loss, many women also experience drastic mood swings, anxiety, and depression during this time. They may also experience trouble sleeping. It can also cause urinary incontinence. The drop in oestrogen levels increases bone loss, so bone and muscle weakness are also common.
Post-menopausal women might also have to deal with high cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease. That’s why in some cases, women consider getting menopausal hormone therapy as it can offset the unpleasant effects of ageing on their bodies.
How Quickly Does HRT Work?
According to the NHS, it can take a few weeks for you to start experiencing the effects of the treatment. You can also go through some side effects in the beginning.
It can take as long as three months for you to see the full effects.
What is the Link Between HRT and Hair Loss?
A decrease in the production of oestrogen and progesterone is what happens before menopause. But there are also androgens in the mix, the sex hormones that are responsible for sexual development and regulating the growth of the hair.
Androgens are also responsible for causing pattern baldness in the first place. Their activity increases as women age, which is why many women notice their hair falling.
Usually, women have diffuse hair loss where the hair loss is spread throughout the scalp. Unlike in males, hair loss is not happening in just one or two areas of the scalp. The thinning and shedding are happening all over.
The hormones oestrogen and progesterone both play a role in the development of hair in women. Many women notice that their hair gets thicker and stronger during pregnancy. This occurs due to an increase in the levels of these hormones.
Their low levels will make the hair fall out more often, though. The fallen hair won’t get quickly replaced by new hair. The growth of new hair also slows down. Therefore, in theory, increasing the level of progesterone and oestrogen should work. Women should start noticing hair growth as a result of it.
Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Always Work for Hair Loss?
Research on the link between hormone therapy and hair loss is still ongoing. Getting HRT to treat hair loss while being unaware of its effectiveness can cost you in the end. You might get an expensive procedure only to learn that it is not working for you. Moreover, hormone therapy can increase the risk of uterine and breast cancer.
Initially, it can also cause vaginal bleeding, tenderness in the breasts, stomach pain, headache, and indigestion. Before getting HRT, you need to consult with your doctor about other treatment options.
Should You Get a Hair Transplant or Hormone Therapy?
The problem with HRT is that it has its risks. It can have serious health consequences. Moreover, we don’t know for sure that it will work. Research on it is still ongoing, so there is no definitive answer to this question.
One problem with menopausal hormone therapy for hair loss is that it works as long as you’re on the therapy. That’s because that will maintain the normal levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body. However, without HRT, your hair will not grow.
On the other hand, this isn’t the case with hair transplant surgery. Once you have it done, your hair will continue to grow. Keep in mind that it only works for women whose hair loss is not diffuse. That’s because they’ll have areas on their scalp where hair follicles are not affected by hormones.
A hair transplant is a surgery, while hormone replacement therapy essentially balances the hormones in the body and restores them to their previous levels.
A specialist in hair and scalp, known as a trichologist, may recommend hair transplant surgery. On the other hand, since hormone therapy deals with hormones, an endocrinologist will guide you about it.
Once you get a hair transplant, your hair won’t fall again. The surgeon transplants those hair follicles in the regions that are resistant to the effects of DHT. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about losing your hair again. Women rarely completely lose their hair, but they can also get hair transplants if they’ve experienced extensive balding.
Is Hair Growth from Hormone Replacement Therapy Permanent?
In the case of HRT, once the therapy stops, your hair loss will resume. This is presuming that hair loss is occurring because of low levels of oestrogen and progesterone. For continued hair growth from HRT, you will have to continue the therapy, which comes with its own health concerns.
Therefore, getting hormone therapy solely for hair growth may not be a good idea. This is especially so when you can achieve similar and better results with a hair transplant.
A hair transplant doesn’t have serious health consequences for the patient undergoing surgery. It simply involves the relocation and redistribution of hair follicles. This makes hair transplant surgery a far better hair loss solution than hormone replacement therapy.
In A Nutshell
If you’re dealing with permanent hair loss, it’s better to get hair transplant surgery than have postmenopausal hormone therapy. Of course, before anything, you should consult a doctor or a trichologist to determine the cause of your hair loss.
HRT is used for dealing with many unpleasant symptoms that come with menopause, one of which is hair loss. But the problem is that research on HRT for hair loss is still in its infancy.
If you’re solely taking HRT for hair growth, you’ll have to be on it continually to maintain the results. However, since this treatment also increases the risk of cancer, this might not always be a suitable option.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.