Why Does Hair Loss During Pregnancy Happen? Part 1

Jun 15, 2020Hair Loss Conditions

Pregnancy brings a number of changes to your body, including your hair. Your precious locks can become thick and lustrous or fall out excessively.

Most pregnant women experience the former – a full head of hair. During pregnancy, you are going to have high levels of oestrogen. The increase in oestrogen slows down shedding and as a result, women lose less hair during their pregnancy.

However, this excellent “hair state” does not last forever. After giving birth, everything goes back to normal and you’d start shedding the excess hair on your scalp. This is what they call post-partum hair loss.

Meanwhile, for other women, what happens is the opposite – their hair falls off during their pregnancy. This is an unusual thing because, as mentioned earlier, the most common scenario is for hair loss or alopecia to happen after the pregnancy.

Hair Loss During Pregnancy: Is It a Cause for Concern?

Hair loss is a common occurrence in both men and women. On a daily basis, you lose an average of 100 hairs. So, just because there are strands on your brush or shower drain, it does not mean that there is something wrong with you.

But when you are losing more hair than usual, then you may be suffering from hair loss. There is no need to panic though as excessive hair shedding during pregnancy is rarely due to a condition that can put you or your unborn child at risk. In most cases, it is just a physical manifestation of internal bodily changes.

Just a reminder:

If you are worried that you are losing too much hair, see to it that you tell your healthcare provider about it. This way, tests can be done to determine if the issue requires intervention or not.

Causes of Hair Loss During Pregnancy

Telogen Effluvium

Alopecia during pregnancy is usually due to a condition called telogen effluvium. This hair loss problem can be triggered by different things – hormonal changes, stress, medical conditions and nutritional deficiency.

In this hair loss condition, the normal hair growth cycle becomes disrupted. The number of hairs that enter the resting phase (telogen) increases from 10% to 30%. Telogen is the final stage of the hair growth cycle. Strands that are in this phase fall out in two to three months.

So, when you are suffering from this condition, you may end up losing around 300 strands per day instead of 100.

Hormonal Changes: As we’ve mentioned earlier, during pregnancy, hormonal changes happen, especially during the first trimester. These unusual and sudden shifts can shock and cause stress on the body, affecting other internal processes including the hair growth cycle.

Take note:

In telogen effluvium, hair loss doesn’t happen at the same time the hormonal shifts are happening. The excessive shedding takes place two to three months after the “trigger”.

Health Issues: Telogen effluvium can also be brought about by health issues. The two most common health problems women experience during pregnancy are iron deficiency and thyroid disorders.

Iron is essential in the production of red blood cells which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues and organs. Low iron levels can lead to fewer red blood cells as such certain body parts like the hair follicles don’t get enough oxygen.

Lack of oxygen can prevent your hair follicles from functioning properly. When this happens, hair strands fall out.

Your risk of developing iron deficiency goes up when you are pregnant. During this time, your body needs to produce more blood to supply oxygen to your baby. Iron is needed to make the blood. If you do not have sufficient iron stores, you may end up having iron deficiency anaemia.

Pregnancy can also trigger thyroid problems like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions can cause hair loss. Of the two, hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, is more common, affecting 2 to 3 per cent of pregnant women.

Hypothyroidism can be challenging to spot in pregnant women since its usual symptoms are similar to pregnancy symptoms, e.g. weight gain and fatigue. To accurately diagnose the condition, a blood test is necessary.

Telogen effluvium may be the most common hair loss condition during pregnancy, but it is not the only reason behind excessive hair shedding in pregnant women. In our next blog, we will talk about the other possible causes of pregnancy hair loss.

Are you experiencing pregnancy hair loss? Talk to our experienced trichologist to find out what you can do to keep your hair healthy while you are pregnant. Call us today on +353 (0)1 6793618 and schedule an appointment with our specialist!

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