Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hormones and Hair Loss

Hair loss occurs among both men and women due to several reasons, and hormones play a key role in this problem in many cases. On a number of occasions, it is the hormones that are the sole reasons for hair loss. For example, as far as male pattern hair loss (MPB) is concerned, the main reason is hormonal imbalance, which could have a hereditary origin as well. In the case of women too, hormonal imbalance is a frequent cause for losing hair, more so during the menopause and pregnancy, when considerable hormonal changes take place in a woman’s body. One thing should be noted here is that the hormonal imbalance, and not the lack of hormones, that is usually responsible for hair loss. Put differently, hormones and hair loss are likely linked when the correlation between the key hormones deviates from the normal levels.
Thyroxin, which is produced by the thyroid gland, is one of the hormones in hair loss research. This hormone controls how your body utilizes food. If thyroxin is produced in excessive amounts, this could result in hair loss via hair shedding. When the thyroid gland is under-active, one’s hair becomes brittle leading finally to loss of hair. In case one suspects the hands of hormone behind his/her hair loss, it is better to have thyroxin levels checked by a doctor.

Two other hormones, androgens and estrogens (the male and female ones respectively), are also capable of affecting our health. Here too, the hormonal imbalance rather than the lack of hormones is the root cause. Whenever the balance between the necessary hormones is destroyed, this causes loss of hair. Typical examples are the menopause in women, when ovaries stop working and the level of the male hormone testosterone rises considerably. At the same time, there is a drop in the estrogen levels which leads to hair loss because estrogen essentially resists the negative effects of androgen on your hair.

The DHT factor

With men, the hormonal hair loss factors are rather different. Men begin losing hair when their scalp is too sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a derivative product of testosterone that makes the hair follicles shrink, and thus stops the growth of new hair. This sensitivity to DHT is hereditary and can be treated if detected early. For women also, DHT is a major reason for losing hair, though the pattern of female baldness is different from the male one.

Apart from thyroxin, estrogen and testosterone, there are many other hormones that can cause hair loss. FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone) stimulates the production of estrogen and GnRH (Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone) in turn stimulates the production of FSH. In fact, the human body produces about 50 hormones and as their interaction is highly complex, it is difficult to guess right away what in the hormonal imbalance causes hair loss.