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PCOS and Hair Loss: Causes and Treatment

PCOS is one of the most common hormonal and lifestyle disorders in women that cause a range of symptoms. While some women face excessive hair growth on their bodies, some of them experience hair loss or hair thinning. Thus hair loss also referred to as Alopecia, is one of the other manifestations of PCOS. The prevalence of women having PCOS suffering from hair loss is comparably low, which is around 27%, but it significantly impacts the quality of life of those women, the research says.
Predominantly, the primary trigger for hair loss or hair thinning is excessive circulating androgens like testosterone called as hyperandrogenism in the body which, in some cases, may also lead to partial baldness. This excess androgen binds to those follicle receptors on the scalp which cause them to shrink, making them weak, more prone to break, and making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.

Can reversing the PCOS grow back the hair?

YES! Reversing PCOS can help with the lifestyle balance. It would especially enhance Insulin sensitivity; decrease its resistance which would ultimately decrease hyperandrogenism– the root cause. This will prevent further damage and will promote new hair growth.

The approach toward managing PCOS should include:

  • Enhancing insulin sensitivity and reducing the levels of the high circulating insulin (hyperinsulinemia) as Insulin along with Leutinizing hormone(LH) makes more testosterone. One can do so by following a proper diet regimen. The proper diet should be high in fiber and should include low-carb sources(mostly complex), high protein, moderate fat (omega 3s, MUFAs), and an adequate amount of water intake. Foods high in sugar, salt, saturated, and transfat, processed and packaged foods are highly discouraged as they may aggravate and worsen hair loss.
  • Losing weight– Reducing weight has been shown to improve insulin resistance and indirectly the androgen excess in the body. The focus should not be only on reducing the overall calorie consumption but one must also increase Fiber (whole fruits, salads, whole cereals, pulses, seeds, etc.), Protein (pulses and legumes, soybeans, tofu, egg, meat, dairy products like curd, paneer, etc.), complex carbs (whole cereals, millets, lentils, beans, green leafy vegetables, etc.), and good fats like omega 3 fatty acids (walnuts, flaxseeds, fatty fish) and MUFA (avocados, groundnuts, olive oil, etc.)
  • Including at least 45- 60 min of low to moderate-intensity of exercise. It will also enhance insulin sensitivity, reduce hyperinsulinemia, and thereby will promote hair growth.
  • Stress management– Chronic stress has been shown to lead the hair loss. Research has proven that stress increases the production of androgens in the body which can trigger hair loss.
  • Including the foods like apple cider vinegar, ghee, and cinnamon that would also help improve the sensitivity.
  • Moreover, one can also include a few functional foods like Fenugreek seeds, drumstick leaves, guava leaves, jamun seeds powder, Ashwagandha, and Turmeric which would help manage Insulin Resistance.
Another reason for hair fall is micronutrient deficiency. The deficiency of certain micronutrients like Vitamin B2, Vitamin B7 (popularly known as Biotin), Vitamin B9 (Folate), Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D and Zinc may also trigger hair loss. Therefore, one must correct these nutritional deficiencies as well.

Other ways to manage hair loss are:

  • Drug therapy like Metformin, OCPs (Oral contraceptive pills), and Oral antiandrogens.
  • Hair transplant
  • Low-dose laser treatments.
  • Platelet-rich plasma treatment.
To conclude, hair loss is one of manifestations of PCOS severely affecting the quality of life of many women suffering from the same. Androgen excess being the main cause should be addressed by reducing the insulin resistance which can be done by following a healthy lifestyle, healthy balanced diet (low carb, high protein, moderate fat and proper hydration), and well planned exercise regimen.
Micronutrient deficiences like deficiency of vitamin B2, B7, B9,B12, Vitamin D and Zinc also has to be corrected as they too aggravate the symptom.
Further, one can also consume some functional foods like Fenugreek seeds, drumstick leaves, guava leaves, jamun seeds powder, ashwagandha, and turmeric which helps in increasing the sensitivity thereby reducing the resistance.

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