Most women should witness hair growth during pregnancy. Pregnancy involves significant changes to a woman’s body. In this phase, more oestrogen, the “women’s hormone”, is released. The result is that hair grows more fully and appears healthier overall. This is because fewer hair follicles than normal enter the Telogen or the resting phase.
Post-child birth, the levels of oestrogen in the body return to normality and many of the above-mentioned “bonus” hairs fall out at the same time. Many women experience this type of hair shedding, known as postpartum hair loss.
Reverse can also happen i.e. severe hair loss can occur during pregnancy. There can be many factors causing this. Let’s explore:
Hormones can lead to hair loss
The hormone “progesterone” is suspected in increased hair shedding. This hormone works in tandem with oestrogen to regulate pregnancy.
This interaction can have a major influence, both positively and negatively, towards hair loss. For example, dry hair can become even more dry and break out easily. In addition, hair follicles could synchronise their growth phase in line with the influence of hormones. This way, too many hairs could enter the resting phase together and therefore fall out at the same time.
Hair shedding caused by contraceptive pills
Women who have discontinued taking the pill and then become pregnant quickly often have to deal with hair loss. This pill artificially retains high oestrogen levels. If pregnancy then occurs, the oestrogen level usually sees a decline. The hair can therefore fall out because, as we have already discussed, this hormone has a positive effect on the growth cycle.
Iron deficiency and hair loss
During pregnancy, the body needs around 50-60% more iron because so much of it is used by the growing child. But if not an adequate amount of iron is made available, then all the bodily functions that need iron (yes, including hair growth) stop working optimally. Other symptoms that can indicate an iron deficiency in the blood are pale skin, perpetual tiredness and high anxiety. The most common period for women to witness an iron deficiency is in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Stress can be a key factor leading to hair loss
Many expectant mothers put themselves under pressure, especially when it is their first child. This could have a negative effect on hair growth. In fact, prolonged stress causes diffuse hair loss even if there is no pregnancy.
Finally, a daily hair care routine has an adverse influence on hair growth. Normally, pregnant women do not have to change their hair care routine much. But, this does not apply to dyeing hair. While there is no scientific evidence that hair dyeing during pregnancy has a harmful effect on the foetus, doctors generally advise against it. However, if dyeing is imperative, we advise the use of natural hair dyes during early pregnancy.
In summary, hair growth should return to normal after pregnancy and the hair that has fallen out should grow back.
However, if it does not, this may be because the increased hair loss has revealed an existing type of hair loss such as Female Pattern Baldness or Alopecia Areata. In this case, a hair transplant is the only permanent solution to restore hair loss. However, no credible hair transplant surgeon will do a hair transplant without first fully dissecting the root causes of hair loss and making you undergo a series of diagnostic tests.