Posted by: Amy | November 14, 2010

PCOS AND HAIR LOSS – What Works for Me

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.

  1. 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.



  1. […] My hair has grown back and  hair loss now is minimal a result of the regime I described in my last post. But, if you are still really struggling with PCOS hair loss, you don’t need to suffer, you […]

  2. Thank you so much, this helped tremendously. I’m headed to the store right now. Hair loss didn’t start out as a symptom that I was concerned with, but it has certainly become one now…that needs immediate attention for sure. Thanks again! I really appreciate it. GREAT GREAT GREAT and VERY HELPFUL POST!!!

    • Thanks Robin-
      Give it some time. It will probably take about a month for the hair loss to subside. Let me know how it is going!

  3. I was wondering if you have dealt with the facial hair problem or if had any information/advice?

    • Hi Jessie-
      The saw palmetto and spironolactone should help. Laser hair removal is wonderful. If you can afford it do it!

  4. Do you still follow this regiment? How long before you seen results? I have pcos but not as severe. i have always had regular periods the only syptoms I have is severe hair loss especially after the birth of my children and excessive unwanted hair. My Dr. recommended Minoxidil with Finestride.

    Last Q how do you use the natural progestrone cream. Also is it available otc?

    • Yes I still follow this. It takes about 6 months to really notice your hair getting thicker. I noticed that the hairloss subsided after about a month. You may ask your Doc about spironolactone. I purchase Pro-gest cream from Emitra at my drugstore but you can get it online as well.

      • Thanks for your reply. I noticed you have 2 shampoos mentioned Nizoral & KM. So do you use both of them on alternate washes or one for a periosd then the other? Also how often do you wash you hair. I have recently (in the new year) taken up walking on the treadmill for 30 min (M-F) as my exercise regime and I sweat. I am fearful to wash my hair too often though because it makes it very dry and brittle. Also I color my hair to cover the greys so washing often would mean coloring more. Right now I stick to twice a weak.

        Also q regarding your earlier post. Why is dairy bad for pcos? I drink 2 glasses of milk + a calcium vitamin every day to get my daily dose of calcium. Is that bad?

        Thank you the site, please keep posting.

      • I have read that it is helpful to wash your hair everyday because it washes away the DHT, so I do wash my hair everyday and use the Nizoral and KMS conditioner. In regards to milk, and calcium you can get calcium from sources that are dairy-free like dark leafy greensl like kale and sea vegetables. Many are lactose intolerant as well. Dairy can also mess with our hormones because of the hormones of the cows. These hormones in cow’s milk are particularly high in pregnant cows, which make up 75%-90% of the dairy milk market. High milk intake has been shown to increase blood levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). High IGF-1 levels are believed to promote acne. Cow’s milk contains 5 alpha-reduced steroids and other hormones that can be broken down to DHT. I would suggest eliminating the milk for a while and try to get your calcium from other sources.

  5. Hello Amy!!
    I also suffer from PCOS. I love your blog because is soooo helpful!! I have a question. Have you experienced facil hair growth due to the usage of minoxidil 5%? I’m currently using the 2%. Im afraid to use the 5% minoxidil because I read in a couple of places that can increase the growth of facial hair in women.

    • Dolly-
      Thanks so much for your nice comments. I was concerned about the 5% minoxidil too. My naturopath was the one who suggested trying the 5%. She said that the 2% was basically useless. I have not had any side effects and am very happy with the results.

  6. Amy-

    Thanks for replying! I also wanted to let you know that I’ve been using this product and is working for me. If you want to take a look..

    Thanks again 🙂

  7. It’s good that you have been lucky with these treatments. I’ am desperately trying to find other ways to treat hair loss, but I think that since spironolactone makes me develop stomach ulcers, 5% minoxidil made me grow hair everywhere (even my eyelids), and it’s getting way late for me to close the door on fertility with birth control pills… I’m pretty much doomed.
    I’m trying to rely on saw palmetto, DCI, low carbing, exercise and weight loss (I don’t have a lot to lose, only a little), and medicated shampoo (Nizoral once or twice a week, Selsun Gold the rest of the time). But I doubt these things will make make difference without the big guns, which I just can’t take. I am on Metformin, but have been for years, it’s good for other things but has done nothing for my hair.

  8. Hi Amy

    Firstly I would like to say thanks, you have given us hope regards to PCOS and hair loss. I love this blog. Just 2 questions though, once our hair grows back using the monoxidil, do we have to continue using it?

    And Questiong number two: If one does ovarien drilling to eliminate high testosterone (which means no DHT) and insulin levels, will hair grow back?


    • Ludifyya-
      Yes you have to continue with minoxidil. Also, I understand that ovarian drilling is not permanent fix to PCOS hormone imbalance. Diet, exercise and supplements are the best option.

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