Even more reasons for your hair loss part 2: Birth control that can promote hair gain

As mentioned in part 1 of this mini-series, birth control pills have the potential to promote hair loss or hair gain. The likelihood of each option depends on multiple factors including the combination of hormones in your particular brand of pill and your own body characteristics.

Hormones are an essential part of many of the processes taking place throughout the body. Androgens are hormones which can lead to the development of body and facial hair, oily skin, acne and pattern baldness. An overabundance of androgens can sometimes lead to androgenisation, which may result in any of the above symptoms, or a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is also possible1. Likewise birth control containing hormones with androgenic properties can promote these symptoms such as hair loss2.

Alternatively, there are birth control options which contain hormone combinations that result in anti-androgenic properties1,3. By suppressing the effects of naturally present androgens, some hormone combinations can encourage hair growth and are used to treat androgenisation1. Anti-androgenic birth control such as options that contain progesterone in the form of drospirenone and estrogen in the form of ethinylestradiol are examples that can lead to hair gain1.

The downside to these types of birth control pills is that they come with a higher risk of serious side effects including blood clots. Health Canada estimates that the risk is 1.5 to 3 fold higher than that of other types of birth control pills; however the overall risk is still small and lower than that associated with pregnancy4–8. Those who smoke, struggle with obesity or have a family history of blood clots may be at a higher risk for serious side effects.

Taken together, the choice to use the pill as contraception can be a substantial decision. There are many benefits but you should also clearly understand any potential side effects. Your doctor can help to assess your individual situation.

Article by: Dr. J.L. Carviel, PhD, Mediprobe Research Inc.


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