Pregnancy and Parenting Features

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) And Hair Growth/Loss

PCOS can be an extremely frustrating and troubling condition for a woman to have. In addition to being one of the leading causes of infertility, PCOS can have several other problematic symptoms, such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, and weight gain in the upper body. In addition to these symptoms, PCOS can cause a variety of difficulties with a woman’s hair.

When a woman has PCOS, her body tends to produce androgens. Androgens are a type of hormone that can cause a variety of problems, such as acne. Androgens can also interfere with ovulation, causing fertility problems. One of the androgens, testosterone, can cause unwanted hair growth when there is too much of it in the blood. Testosterone coverts into dihydrotestosterone, sometimes known as DHT. Body hair is affected by dihydrotestosterone more than the hair of the head. If a woman has a large amount of dihydrotestosterone in her system, the body hairs that are normally very fine will become coarse, and tend to grow toward the navel and on the face.

If dihydrotestosterone and other androgens are at very high levels, the head on the hair can actually react differently than body hair. It is much more sensitive to these hormones, and will fall out rather than growing. This can lead to male-pattern balding in women.

An excessive amount of androgens such as dihydrotestosterone can also lead to the deepening of a woman’s voice, and even enlargement of the clitoris.

For some women with PCOS, the increased levels of androgens are not necessarily from their ovarian cysts; rather, many women with PCOS also have trouble with their thyroid gland, which can contribute to not only hair growth and loss, but many of the other symptoms of PCOS, including weight gain.

Hair loss and unwanted hair growth can be a severe problem. Many women are greatly impacted in their self esteem, and this unwanted hair or lack of hair can cause them a great deal of social anxiety. There are some medications and procedures that may help with the unwanted hair or hair loss. If you have PCOS and are having problems with your hair, contact your health care provider to discuss what options are available to you.

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