Of the myriad of PCOS symptoms, I find hair loss to be the most difficult to cope with. Thick, radiant hair is a symbol of beauty and femininity. When it seems like you see more hair in your hairbrush and in the bathroom sink or tub than on your head (okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit here) it can be really depressing.
The medical term for PCOS hairloss is androgenic alopecia. Androgenic alopecia in women is due to the action of androgens which most of us with PCOS have an excess of. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a derivative of the male hormone testosterone (an androgen) is the enemy of hair follicles on your head. DHT appears to be at least partially to blame for the miniaturization of hair follicles in women suffering with androgenic alopecia. Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase, which is held in a hair follicle’s oil glands. Scientists now believe that it’s not the amount of circulating testosterone that’s the problem but the level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles. DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.
I have spent countless hours researching PCOS hair loss solutions. After trial and error, here is what works for me. I just want to preface with the fact that you don’t want to use/take any of the following if you are trying to conceive.
- Nizoral Shampoo- a potent anti-dandruff shampoo, also helps to block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). I use this to shampoo most days and leave on for a few minutes before I rinse. You can get this at any drugstore for around $10.
Spironolactone (Aldactone) is a potassium-sparing diuretic used to treat high blood pressure and swelling. Spironolactone slows the production of androgens in the adrenal glands and ovaries. It prevents DHT from binding to receptor sites in the hair follicles. You will need a prescription for 100mg 2x day from your doctor. You also periodically need to get potassium levels checked while you are taking this drug. This is the only prescription drug that I take to help my PCOS.
5% minoxidil My naturopath recommended that I use the men’s formula as the women’s 2% is not effective. I have been using this for a year now with no side effects. Minoxidil stimulates hair growth. I purchase mine at Walmart - 3month supply for $19
Natural progesterone cream days 14-28 of cycle It inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which prevents excess DHT from being produced from testosterone. By ensuring that your progesterone levels are balanced you can ensure that your body is not producing too much DHT. I use 1/4tsp of Emerita Pro-gest 2x days 14-28.
Saw Palmetto blocks the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). I take 320mg a day.
Next time I’ll share my favorite hair products that help thin hair look a ton thicker. In the meantime, I encourage you to do your own research into remedies for androgenic alopecia and please post a comment if about what works for you.