Pregnancy is a changing phase in a woman’s life where she undergoes numerous bodily, hormonal, and psychological transformations. Some of the major visible changes include changes in hair growth pattern and volume.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can be diagnosed with a spectrum of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, fatigue, frequent urination, and many others. Even the skin and hair conditions change. The skin can get sensitive, while the hair can grow thicker or thinner than normal hair growth.
Thick, lustrous hair growths might be more common during pregnancy. However, hair fall or telogen effluvium during pregnancy, though less likely, is caused by a spectrum of changes in the body, hormones, medical conditions, and stress.
This article discusses everything about hair fall during pregnancy with tips and safe treatment options for pregnancy hair loss.
In this Article
- 1 Hair changes during and after pregnancy: What to expect?
- 2 What causes hair fall in pregnancy?
- 3 How to regrow hair after pregnancy?- Tips and treatment
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 FAQs
Hair changes during and after pregnancy: What to expect?
During pregnancy, the pregnancy hormones trigger an array of changes in a woman’s body, such as acne, skin sensitivity, and thicker hair growth. Hair thickness with additional hair growth is more common during pregnancy. However, these changes get back to normalcy after pregnancy when women likely observe postpartum hair loss.
Pregnant women often experience changes in hair growth and hair texture. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG), hormonal variations during pregnancy may lead to additional scalp and body hair growths.
Hair growths during pregnancy can typically occur in areas like the face, chest, abdomen, under arms, arms, and others. Hair growth gets thicker approximately 15 weeks into pregnancy.
The hair growth cycle typically has three phases, namely:
- The growth phase or anagen,
- The shedding/ degradation phase or catagen
- The resting phase or telogen
The oestrogen increase in pregnancy makes the hair follicles stay longer in the anagen phase. And hence it is seen that one is more likely to have increased hair growth during pregnancy.
However, some people also experience hair fall during pregnancy. Medically termed telogen gravidarum, postpartum hair loss can be due to an oestrogen decline as a result of:
- Discontinuation of oral contraceptive pills,
- Imbalance of hormones,
- Early pregnancy loss due to blighted ovum or other conditions,
And some women experience post-pregnancy hair fall or postpartum hair loss anytime within first three months of childbirth.
Even after childbirth, the woman experiences continuous hormonal changes that can contribute to bodily changes, such as hair fall. Here, the changing levels of pregnancy hormones- progesterone and oestrogen are to be blamed.
The excessive hair shedding post pregnancy is due to the fall in hormones like progesterone and oestrogen that halts the hair growth cycle in the growing phase. As the pregnancy hormones get back to normalcy, the hair growth cycle reverts to the timeline of the former growth cycle.
Though a woman post pregnancy observes hair fall, she can have her regular hair grow back within 6 to 9 months of childbirth.
What causes hair fall in pregnancy?
Men and women typically lose 100 to 150 stands a day. Hair loss is a part of the hair growth cycle that eventually promotes hair regrowth.
Hair loss during or after pregnancy is majorly attributed to hormones. However, other contributing factors that can cause hair fall includes:
Shift in Hormones
Telogen effluvium affects a few during pregnancy. Stress or trauma during pregnancy can cause hormonal shifts that are essentially required to support the growing foetus. This shift can push the hair growth cycle into the resting phase of the hair growth cycle where women can expect hair loss of more than 300 strands a day. Visible thinning during pregnancy is seen after two to four months. However, hair loss during pregnancy is temporary or transient.
Thyroid issues– hyperthyroidism (excess thyroid hormone) or hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone), vitamin deficiencies, and iron deficiency are conditions that can lead to hair fall during and after pregnancy.
Statistics show that almost 20% of women may experience thyroid problems postpartum (after childbirth) that can lead to postpartum hair loss. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing essential vitamin and Iron deficiency/ anaemia that can contribute to temporary hair loss during or after pregnancy.
Genetic and autoimmune conditions
Hair thinning with telogen effluvium is typically uniform. If you are experiencing pattern hair fall or balding, it can be due to the predisposed genes or any autoimmune conditions, including:
- Androgenic alopecia or female pattern baldness: It is one of the most common hair fall causes characterised by shortened growing phase and a lengthened resting phase.
- Alopecia areata: It leads to bald patches on the scalp causing unpredictable hair growth cycles causing extreme hair loss.
However, hair regrowth treatments can help treat and control such extreme hair loss conditions.
Stress and trauma
Sometimes, non-genetic factors such as stress or accidental trauma- tight hairstyles and harsh hair care products, can cause traction alopecia. Swelling of the hair follicles in traction alopecia can cause temporary hair fall in the early stages but can lead to permanent scarring and hair loss in the long run.
Stress can negatively impact the health of an individual, especially during or after pregnancy. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), chronic stress can impair the hair stem cells, causing hair loss.
How to regrow hair after pregnancy?- Tips and treatment
Although hair loss in pregnancy is transient, one may need to follow certain tips to control excess hair loss and promote hair regrowths. Here are some hair care tips for pregnant women, as suggested by the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD).
- Switch to a volumizing shampoo and conditioner
- Avoid shampoos and conditions having labels “conditioning shampoo” and “intensive conditioners”
- Apply conditioners only to the hair ends and not the scalp.
- Use conditioners formulated for fine or thin hair.
- Do not pull your hair too much or have tight hair pulling styles.
- Avoid the use of hair irons and harsh hair care products that can aggravate hair fall.
- Have nutritious foods that can ensure proteins, essential vitamins, iron, and calcium during and after pregnancy.
- Take nutritional supplements- vitamin D, B12, iron, and calcium as recommended by your doctor during pregnancy and nursing.
- Try to de-stress with recommended exercise, meditation, yoga, hobbies, books, and music that can positively improve pregnancy and postpartum health.
Hair thinning or hair loss, termed telogen effluvium, is more common among women post pregnancy or childbirth. Owing to the increased oestrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy, many pregnant women commonly experience thick, lustrous hair growth on the face, scalp, and body.
However, hair loss during or post-pregnancy is mediated by hormones, and other factors, including stress, trauma, genetic, autoimmune, and medical conditions. However, hair fall during pregnancy and postpartum hair loss is temporary and gets back to normal usually after 12 months of childbirth.
If you are experiencing excessive hair fall or delayed hair regrowth post-delivery, you may consult your doctor or dermatologist for solutions and treatment.
Also Read :
Hair loss during or after pregnancy is temporary, and you can observe hair starts regrowing within 12 months of childbirth. Though hair loss during pregnancy is nothing to worry about, you can consider speaking with your doctor about excessive hair loss or delayed hair regrowth post-pregnancy.
The hair fall after pregnancy is normal and temporary that starts within the first three months and stops after six months of childbirth. Within a year of delivery, one can notice the usual hair growth thickness.
According to the Trichological Society, the following foods can help promote healthy hair regrowth:
- High protein foods like lentils, beans, cooked fish, soy products, and dairy,
- Healthy fats- nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oils, or vegetable oils,
- Fresh green leafy vegetables and fruits.