Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. It commonly produces symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue and increased facial hair. But it can also cause excessive hair shedding and hair thinning in those with a genetic predisposition and follicle sensitivity.
POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS) AND HAIR LOSS
PCOS can cause hyperandrogenism – where your body produces too many androgens (male hormones). Androgens are naturally found in all women. They affect the degree and frequency of bleeding during your menstrual cycle and can also cause acne and oily skin. However, if your hair follicles are sensitive to androgens they can also decrease the growth of hair on your scalp and increase the growth of hair on your body. This is especially true if you have excessive amounts.
Follicle sensitivity is not simply ‘caught’ or randomly acquired. It’s genetically inherited and has been there since birth. If you have little or no hair follicle sensitivity, your hair may not be very affected by extra androgens. But normal or even sub-normal amounts of circulating androgens can cause hair loss if your follicles are very sensitive to them.
TREATMENT FOR HAIR LOSS CAUSED BY PCOS
Treatment for PCOS can be complicated, depending on symptoms other than thinning hair. However, if hair loss is the only or predominant symptom, it’s relatively straightforward. Hair thinning from PCOS is treated by orally and/or topically taking anti-androgens. Topically applied solutions usually contain an anti-androgen as well as a stimulant. The most common oral anti-androgens used for hair loss are combination oral contraceptives such as Spironolactone or Dianette, but oral and topical solutions used together are most effective.