Hair loss and oral contraception

Discussion in 'Contraception' started by KMPRN, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. KMPRN

    KMPRN New Member

    HI. I am 27 years old and have been on the pill for about 9 years. I started on Ortho-Tri-Cyclen and then a few years ago was switched to the generic Tri-Sprintec. I have never had any side effects of the pill and it has actually made my periods so easy that I don't even feel like I have it. I have always had fine hair but not really thin. In the last year or so I have noticed a huge increase in my hair thinning. I am really stressed about it and it is something I think about everyday. I recently began trying to find information on possible links between hair loss and oral contraception. I was wondering if any of you have experienced the same thing and if it took 9 years like it did for me. I am kind of hoping that my hair loss is due to the pill because at least I can put an end to it and keep the hair that I have hopefully by quitting the pill. But I have also heard of women having increased hair loss after stopping the pill. I am so confused on what to do and I just started the sugar pills so I want to decide by next Sunday if I am going to start a new pack or quit taking them. Any advise will be greatly appreciated.


    FLOWERPOWER New Member

    This is a repeat of a posting I did on Yasmin and Hair Loss but is equally applicable to any steroid sex hormone drugs.

    All external steroid sex hormones can cause hair loss. If you look at the manufacturer's leaflets which accompany the pills (or jab, implant, or patch), you should see that hair loss is noted as a possible side effect. In practise this tends to take a number of forms:

    1) an immediate allergic or autoimmune type reaction where the hair falls out suddenly.

    2) Hair thinning over several years especially with the androgenic progestagens which are more akin to bodily testosterone than progesterone. But since the steroid sex hormones in the Pill are related to anabolic steroids they can all have the same effect as anabolic steroids. Hair goes through a cycle of growth lasting a few years, so it may be quite gradual and a woman may not realize her hair is gradually getting frailer and frailer and then finally may fall out.

    3) Hair thinning relating to lack of nutrients, especially iron and vitamin Bs.

    4) All steroids, being immunosuppressive, can introduce an overrun of internal fungus which can also cause hair loss.

  3. KMPRN

    KMPRN New Member

    Thanks for the info. Does your hair grow back after you stop taking the oral contraceptive pills or is the hair gone forever???

  4. Kawaii

    Kawaii New Member

    I experienced some hair loss when I went off the pill but now it seems to have gone back to its normal state. It might take a while but I certainly think it's possible that your hair will grow back. I recommend taking a multi-vit, if you're not already, to get those B vitamins & such back where they should be.


    FLOWERPOWER New Member

    It depends. It's quite individual, according to why you've lost it.

    If the hair loss is purely due to iron/vitamin B/zinc deficiency (forgot to mention the zinc), it is possible for it to come back. Fungal and hair thinning due to the steroids is another matter. But it is possible to stop the process whatever and get the remaining hair in as good a condition as possible.

    You're still young, so hopefully it will be ok.

    I have found that the staple nutrients of an ordinary dose multivitamin/mineral, a vitamin B stress complex (vitamin Bs plus added C), zinc with copper tablet, a magnesium tablet and an essential fatty acid mix of Omega 3s and Omega 6s are all helpful. There are non constipating irons as well, but I should put the proviso that apparently it is possible to overdose on iron, although I've been taking it for six years now with lots of benefits (I haven't gained back my former thick locks but the hair I have got is in better condition).

    If you ask your doc to do an iron test, make sure he or she tests your serum ferritin levels - not just the ferritin levels but the serum ferritin levels.

    This is the iron store. The haemoglobin is the circulating iron and when it falls low it draws on the iron store. So just measuring the haemoglobin can be misleading because the iron stores are being depleted. It's a good idea to get a photocopy of the results and also to know if the results are on the low side of "normal", it is still possible to benefit from iron supplementation. It is possible to get non constipating iron (do a google for "non constipating iron").

    All nutrients need at least several months to build up if not more. This isn't a ploy to keep you hooked on nutrients! It's just true. They need to build up and the body's processes need to assimilate them again.

    Some women may have a natural deficiency even before going on these drugs but the drugs can also change the body so nutrients aren't absorbed so well, as well as the drugs lowering nutrient levels. The body is a complex, delicate creature and external steroids are a very blunt weapon.

    What happened to me is that my hair thinned over several years. I didn't really realize what was happening but now, with the benefit of hindsight, I realize the hair was thinning with every hair cycle growth and I changed my perception of what my hair was. Once it was thick and wavy. Then I began to think that actually it was fine but there was a lot of it and it was unruly. Then it became more and more difficult to manage (as the hair weakens it also becomes more curly) and I kept it short. I came off the drugs. Three years later (I guess after another hair cycle of growth) I had a sudden hair fall out. It's still there and people who didn't know me before don't realize the difference. It more or less covers my head but on my scalp especially every second hair is missing and the hairs are fine.

    So I can't give you the definitive answer you want, I'm afraid and I'm not trying to scare you. It may not happen to you. I do know the feelings you are experiencing so well! It's a question of just wait and see and do the best for yourself in the meantime.

  6. tinak

    tinak New Member

    KMPRN - Hi there. It is no uncommon to lose hair from the pill. I started with really thick hair (thick strands and lots of them). I've been on OTC and generic versions since 20 (now 26). Using hindsight I now realize I noticed a change right away in my hair. It became dry and mousy and hard to manager within in a couple months. There was also increased shed then.

    Then the shed went back to normal, but my hairs became thinner and drier and I was shedding in a diffused manner. Because I had so much to start with, I didn't notice. I eventually convinced myself that my hair was always thin and that I just had a lot of it.

    Because of money I switched to a generic version Tri Nessa. Man did my hair decrease after that. Strands continued to thin and shed increased dramatically. I went to doctor and derm to see if I had prob with head or thyroid. I was told that it was from stress and/or family history. Neither of these made sense so I stopped smoking, started working out, eating right and taking prenatal vitamins. None of this helped. The only medication I've ever taken was the pill.

    Well I know this is long, but then I found this site while researching on google -

    Because of this site I made the connection and I am now 3 weeks off the pill. My shed hasn't stopped, but I'm hoping that once my body balances and I give myself enough time (at least a year) for recovery, that I will see improvements.


    FLOWERPOWER New Member

    "I eventually convinced myself that my hair was always thin and I just had a lot of it".

    Yes, it was the same with me. As I also said in my previous posting, "Then I began to think that actually it [the hair strands were] was fine but there was a lot of it and it was unruly." This was the explanation I also gave myself.

    It's gradual hair thinning with each cycle of hair growth lasting several years so it's quite insiduous and of course it's not something you're expecting to happen. The doc who said it was "stress". In fact, the steroids in the Pill cause extreme stress - they affect the stress hormones. This kind of disingenous and ambiguous vocabulary is often used by docs without real explanation. If you see my previous posting, it may be that something in it will be helpful for you. You're right to give yourself time. Nutrients have to build up and it doesn't happen overnight.

  8. tinak

    tinak New Member

    Thanks FlowerPower. It's reassuring to hear that all I need is time. I started taking the B's and Iron that I see you also listed in your post. I'm going to have to look into the Zinc and and Omegas.

    I have a question for you. Did you ever feel a soreness on your head, or tingling feelings? I tried to convince myself that it's akin to the pins and needles you feel when your leg wakes up after sitting on it. I just want to make sure it's not something bad I need to worry about.

    thanks again.


    FLOWERPOWER New Member

    I think at one time I used to have a feeling of a tight cap on my head. It was uncomfortable rather than full blown pain. From what I know now, I think it was probably to do with the blood vessels. I think you can get all kinds of sensations and sore veins are not an uncommon side effect of these sort of drugs. And the circulation as a whole can get affected as well and get sluggish.

  10. Anjelina

    Anjelina New Member

    I too have hair loss from using Aviane (generic Alesse) but never had it with Ortho tri cyclen or OTC Lo. I just stopped the Aviane and am waiting to see where to go from here but it is so scarey! I do get painful spots on my head where hair is coming out too [​IMG]

  11. americangirl

    americangirl New Member

    For me I had a thyroid problem (Hashimotos) which was masked when I was taking the pill. After about a month of taking my thryoid med the hair thinning stopped. My boss and I were discussing this today and she came across an article about taking two evening primrose oil caplets a day (once in the morning, once at night) and this also helps with hormonal hair loss. It's certainly worth trying, I would think, as evening primose helps stabalize the hormones after birth control.


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