Healing With and From Hormonal Hair Loss


“Dr. Aviva, I’m tired more than I should be, I’m not going to the bathroom, and I have this chronic low level  depression that’s just always there, like it’s nipping at my heels. I try to eat well, get enough sleep, and practice regular self-care. My periods are irregular and sometimes are real gushers. But can I tell you what? I would gladly just deal with all of that if I could just have one symptom go away: my hair is falling out and I hate that. It’s causing me a mild panic every single time I wash my hair and see it going down the drain, when I see how much is in my hairbrush, or when I just catch myself in the mirror. I’m really freaked out.” 



Hair loss. It fills our brushes, our sink drains, and for some women, it's the stuff of nightmares. It also brings a lot of women to my medical practice. Brittany is one. The first patient of the day, one fine spring morning, this 36-year old graphic designer by day and yoga teacher on the weekends was the epitome of NYC chic: cool, casual, elegant with shoulder length brunette hair pulled into a low pony-tail, rocking a crisp white tee, faded blue jeans, and ankle high “Docs.”  However, cool and casual isn’t at all how she felt.

She was painfully self-conscious, and was also experiencing new anxiety over whether her less abundant hair would affect her work and income – not an unrealistic concern in an appearance-driven world, including the yoga and women’s wellness worlds – so she decided to try inserts while working on it at a root cause level.

Bookending my day, that same day in my medical office was Kathleen, 51, a tall woman with sandy blond hair with threads of silver, wearing brown slacks and a light, blue sweater, who came in solely to discuss the hair loss she was experiencing – and that was devastating her, far more than recently becoming an empty-nester or the peri-menopause symptoms that were waking her up at night.

How Common Is Hair Loss in Women?

I’d say that for every day I’m in my medical office, at least one woman has hair loss on her list of symptoms. Here’s the thing: some daily hair loss is completely normal; we each lose as many as 50 to 100 hairs a day as hair follicles naturally cycle through periods of growth (the anagen phase) and rest (the telogen phase), during which some naturally sheds. But this type of hair loss is usually barely noticeable (for women with dark hair it may be more obvious as it’s easier to see on the bathroom or shower floor or on a white pillow), and doesn’t cause substantive visible changes in your hairline, how much scalp you’re seeing, or a shrinking pony-tail volume. That’s the type that strikes fear into the hearts of women experiencing it – and it’s not a small number of women; estimates are that up to 50% of women will experience some more significant amount of hair loss in their lifetime.

Hair Loss – A Quiet Personal Hell

Hair loss is both terrifying and devastating for any woman. The very word distress says it all: dis = not, opposite of, tress = a long lock of a woman's hair. Ever thought of that before?

But why are we so devastated about hair loss? Well, for one, we love our hair. For most of us, it’s a central part of our identity. It’s how we describe ourselves along with our height and eye-color. It’s also one our most public forms of self-expression. A short punk-styled undercut says something very different than a neatly coiffed bob – or at least so we usually think. But there are also deeply-engrained social beliefs and biases about women and our hair. Having a lush head of hair in our culture represents beauty and youthfulness. There’s also a terrible double standard when it comes to male and female hair loss. While 50 million men also lose their hair, mostly as a function of age, and while yes, it may cause men grief to lose hair, bald men have long been seen as desirable – even sexy – one study of over 20,000 surveyed individuals found that (completely) bald men are perceived as more intelligent, bigger, stronger, and more masculine. Another study (conducted by a bald, male researcher – no bias there, ahem) found that bald men are perceived as more dominant and successful.

Not so much for women at least from a cultural stereotype perspective. We’re either seen with sympathy because it must have been cancer, right? Or we’re just not seen at all. It’s no wonder, then, that hair loss causes embarrassment, shame, and even anxiety and depression. One study found that at least 70% of women experiencing hair loss feel very angry or disturbed by it, and in another nearly 90% of women experiencing hair loss also experienced negative body image, poorer self-esteem, loss of a sense of control over their lives, and decreased quality of life. For some women, it leads to suicidal thoughts.

This leads to a culture in which so many women – including those we see every day in movies, on television, in magazine ads, and even some of the ‘gurus’ in the natural health and wellness space, wear inserts, weaves, and hair pieces, and where celebrities commonly wear wigs; we really don't have a clue whose hair is real or what normal hair variation even looks like. An article during New York Fashion Week in 2019 showed us the extent to which models wear hair that’s not their own – it's practically ubiquitous. The pictures in the article are worth a peek – I personally found it revelatory and it actually gave me a sigh of relief as I have also experienced my own crises with hormonally and stress-related hair loss; I know personally just how much of a panic it can cause – and how embarrassing it can feel.

I Feel You – My Own Brush with Hair Loss

My first ‘brush” with hair loss (apologies for the pun- totally accidental but too good to delete!)  was around 4 months postpartum with my second child. The fact that my hair is black as a raven’s feathers made it that much more noticeable as strands (or gobs) ran down the drain in my shower, littered my bathroom floor, or were scattered on my pillow in the morning. It was truly frightening and my midwives had no idea what was causing it, so I had to do the research myself, and discovered that telogen effluvium is a common occurrence at around this time post-birth and that my hair would grow back. Sure enough, between pregnancies it did, and during my pregnancies each time it got even thicker. But then, like clockwork, at 4 months postpartum again, with each of my next pregnancies (I have 4 kids) it would fall out again. And believe me, knowing it was ‘natural’ didn’t stop me from having that nagging worry: what if this time it isn’t temporary. Of course, it always was, and my hair would level out again, but I know that overall, it did become a bitter thinner than before having babies.

More recently, at 52, I experienced hair loss again – a noticeable amount and I wasn't be hypercritical of myself – the difference was obvious to me.  It occurred at the end of a particularly stressful 3-year run of big things happening in my life consecutively or simultaneously, culminating at the time I also began to experience peri-menopausal hormone shifts (skipped periods and some hot flashes). This time it was just plain scary because I had no certainty that it would grow back, and like my patient Brittany, my work involves seeing myself in print, online, and in video almost daily. So I had a constant reminder of it – and also the very real fear that my changing appearance would affect me professionally. Sounds like vanity, but as women in wellness, we are heavily judged by our appearance. Hell, where in life aren’t we? My hair stylist definitely noticed the hair loss (and I truly appreciated her being honest about it when my family was telling me I was ‘crazy’ or that it really wasn’t that much). That said, she said she sees this all the time in women ‘my age’ and that the only answer is hormone replacement therapy. It’s amazing how free we all are these days with dispensing medical advice! I knew that the risk of HRT wasn’t something I’d want to take – even for the sake of my hair – and that androgen therapy is not a long-term solution; the hair-growth benefits last only for as long as you’re using the treatments.

At my daughter’s urging (thank you, my girl, for reminding me to take a dose of my own medicine!), I turned to the help of a prenatal vitamin (imagine explaining the prenatal on the counter to my other adult kids over the holidays!) and importantly I began a new path in my life – one of prioritizing a strong commitment to self-care and fewer projects on my plate at any given time, with clear work hours, and clear stopping hours. I can happily say it’s taken about 6 months, but my hair is growing back. And on top of that, I’m sleeping better and de-stressing has also stopped the hot-flashes almost 100%. My hair stylist has noticed the regrowth, too, and said, “See, I told you it was the stress you were under!” I laughed and agreed. But it’s not all the way there, and may never be. And I do feel self-consciously hyperaware of my hair in photos, and as a medical doctor helping other women with hair loss, sometimes a feeling of embarrassment. Of course, I know that’s almost silly, and I’m doing my inner work about it, but it’s real.   The pressures we feel in our culture to appear a certain way are very, very real.

Women Speaking Out

As with so many areas related to our bodies, beauty, and health, we’re set up to compare ourselves to standards that aren’t even always humanly achievable for average mortals. Few women are whipping off their wigs (or pulling out their inserts or weaves) the way Samantha, post-chemo bald, famously did in Sex and the City. I say Brava to those few who are speaking up about their experiences, for example, former talk show host and filmmaker (The Business of Being Born) Ricki Lake recently ‘went public’ about her struggles with hair loss, posting images of herself on Instagram proudly, bravely, and sexily rocking a Demi-Moore-as-GI-Jane-buzzcut. I for one consider buzz cuts and bald heads on women brave and badass – a total bust out and F#c! you to expected cultural stereotypes that to me speaks power. But choosing a buzz cut or bald head is different than having to have one because of hair loss.

And I have to hand it to Rachel Hollis (of Girl, Wash Your Face, fame) for being open about getting bonded hair extensions. When wellness and lifestyle celebs rock their perfect hair on their perfect Instagram pages, it can leave the rest of us feeling less than. Her transparency about this is refreshing.

I think we all need a dose of reality when it comes to social media, and media in general. I recently saw an uber-famous-celebrity in a shop in NYC and I really had to check twice (with discretion; I have full respect for celebrity privacy, which is why I'm not dropping a name) to see if my eyes were seeing correctly – she looked like any woman and startlingly different than she does on film or in print. She had no make up on, clearly struggled with acne (the things a doctor notices), and barely looked like the person we'd all recognize in a heartbeat in a movie. I really respected her for being so real in public. I think we all need to see more of that not just to live more comfortably in our own skin, but so that we stop being judged by prospective partners, employers, and others based on our appearance. Even the medical profession, which you’d think would select medical residents based on medical school performance, altruism, and skill, to name a few important attributes for a doctor, is selectively biased to choosing more ‘attractive’ students.

More than Skin Deep: Getting to the Roots of Hair Loss

While I’d love us to rise up together, sing ‘Kumbaya,' and say F#@! Off to worrying about hair loss, it’s obviously not that simple (though I think that should be part of the plan for sure!). Though the cosmetic and social issues are what most commonly drive the high level of distress hair loss causes, it’s also an important message from our body that warrants a look under the hood. Hair loss is absolutely a signal that that something is impacting your body. That something may be temporary and related to a natural, biological hormonal shift, for example, postpartum hair loss, it may be the symptom of a nutritional deficiency or stress, it can be due to something you’re being exposed to (i.e., a damaging hair dye or other product, or a styling technique), or it can be due to a medical condition.

In the remainder of this article, I’m going focus on the most common hormonally-related causes of hair loss, and what you can do to reverse these and take back your hair health! Keep in mind that these natural approaches I share are based on taking what I call a total ecosystems approach to your health. While western medicine sees our bodies as separate parts, which is why medicine is compartmentalized into silos – you see a gynecologist for lady stuff, a psychiatrist for mind stuff, a gastro for digestive system troubles, and you get a diagnosis and treatment that relates to just that system – symptoms and health conditions don’t arise in silos. Everything happening in your body is the result of a constellation of factors that, all together like a recipe, create your experiences.

So for example, if you have celiac disease, eating gluten can be causing hair loss – as can hidden gluten in thickening shampoos! If you have leaky gut and aren’t absorbing iron, this can play a role in hair loss. In Brittany’s case, hypothyroidism was the underlying cause, and once she got onto the right dose of the best thyroid medication for her, and removed gluten from her diet, which for her was an inflammatory trigger, her hair loss slowed down, then stopped, and in about 6 months her hair started to thicken up again, and eventually her hair grew back again. In Kathleen’s case, peri-menopause was the culprit, and based on my more recent experience, stress seemed to have been the biggest precipitating factor, with hormonal changes.

When approaching hair loss in my patients, I get a complete history to understand when it began and what was happening in my patient’s life at that time and in the six months prior, whether there are other symptoms also occurring that can clue me into the cause – for example, are there symptoms of PCOS, peri-menopause, or an autoimmune condition – and I always want to know how hair loss is affecting her sense of self and how we can support that along the way.

I also make sure my patients are supplementing with a prenatal vitamin – even if they’re not in baby making mode. Prenatal vitamins have a bit of a bump (no pun intended) in their nutrient levels over other daily multi’s, and getting a bit of extra iodine, selenium, zinc, B12, and iron can support hair health and growth.

Causes of Hormonal Hair Loss and What You Can Do

So what are the most common causes of hormonal hair loss?

  • Stress/Illness
  • Female Pattern Hair Loss
    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
    • Hyperandrogenism +/– insulin resistance
    • Perimenopause
  • Postpartum (telogen effluvium)
  • Thyroid dysfunction (hypo/hyperthyroid)
  • Iron deficiency +/– anaemia (i.e., from frequent or heavy periods, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, pregnancy/birth)
  • Caloric restriction (fasting, cleansing, under eating, no carbs, anorexia nervosa)

Let’s explore these – and what you can do for each.

Stress

Common things being common, let’s start with stress. It’s easy to forget that stress is not just a life issue, or something that makes us feel like we want to pull our hair out, but it’s also a hormonal issue (think cortisol) with very real physical responses – and stress can definitely make your hair fall out. A period of significant stress, or a major life event can cause your body to save on ‘vanity expenses’ like hair growth which requires a surprising amount of cellular (mitochondrial) energy, keeping your hair in the telogen phase for a longer period of time. This is called telogen effluvium. It might not kick in until a few months even after the high stress time and is temporary. In addition, when we’re stressed, we tend to eat and sleep less well, and stress itself causes us to use up more nutrients including the B-vitamins and zinc important for hair growth.

  • Hair Repair Rx: During times of high stress, buffer with plenty of self-care, and build resilience with good sleep support, a healthy diet, and nutrients and adaptogens to support your stress response. Do what you can to roll back the stressors in your life – is there something you can take off of your to-do list? A way to reprioritize? Someone who can help you manage your responsibilities? Also nourish your adrenals with a daily meditation practice – even if it’s just 5 minutes a day, deep breathing practices which can quickly reset your nervous system and make a big difference over time, and possibly additional nutrients and herbs including nervines and adaptogens which you can learn all about  here.
  • Additionally, my book, The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution, provides a deep dive into healing your stress response and adrenals.
  • If you’ve been ill or under serious stress, it’s important to allow yourself a time to recuperate, repair, and replenish. It’s especially important to try to get extra rest, replace possible nutrient loss – make sure you’re getting adequate protein, carbs, and healthy fats from salmon and other fatty, low mercury fish – and to get enough healthy, complex carbohydrates in your diet, something women are all too often cutting out but which are important for healthy hair growth. I also recommend taking a multi-vitamin, or consider a prenatal vitamin.

Dramatic Weight Loss and Extreme Cleanses

Your body reads a dramatic weight loss as stress and can lead to temporary hair loss. What counts as dramatic? A  5% or more weight loss, (about 7 lbs. if you started at 150 pounds) particularly over a relatively short time of 6 to 12 weeks or less. One common reason I see for hair loss in my practice is in women who have done an extreme cleanse, fast, or diet. This is not a healing response – it is a stress response, sometimes a function of the thyroid slowing down in response, and can also be related to nutrient depletion. Illness and extreme stress can also cause sudden weight loss and with it, hair loss.

  • Hair Repair Rx: If you’ve been doing extreme fasting or cleansing, you may need to bring your body weight up to a normal, healthy range to halt the hair loss and nourish regrowth. One way to determine your best weight is to simply use an online BMI calculator and make sure you’re not below the underweight range, and ideally are at least 5% above that range, or no lower than a BMI of about 20. Please recognize that frequent or extreme fasting and cleansing are not healthy sustainable approaches to healing and wellness. I discuss this at length in my podcast here, sharing a case review of a woman who experienced hair loss after a cleanse. There are safe, more nurturing ways to achieve your health that don’t put your body under extreme stress. And follow the steps I’ve just mentioned for replenishing your nutrients.

Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL)

This is the most common form, is non-scarring, and typically affects the crown of the head and hairline, but rarely causes complete hair loss there. It affects some 30 million women in the United States. It is largely attributed to elevated androgen levels due to it being a common feature in PCOS with higher testosterone levels. Dihydrotestosterone, a potent testosterone metabolite, binds to androgen receptors in hair follicles, resulting in the up-regulation of genes responsible for the gradual transformation of terminal hair follicles to miniaturized hair follicles. 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) is the enzyme that converts testosterone into the much more potent androgen, DHT. If 5-AR levels increase, more testosterone will be converted into DHT, and greater hair loss will result.

However, this is not the whole story, as androgen levels are normal in most women with FPHL. The theory on this is that women with normal androgen levels  but FPHL have an increased sensitivity of hair follicles to androgens, so even at lower levels of androgens, hair loss might occur. Additionally, a new study has found that women with FPHL have a form of dysbiosis in their hair follicle, with the same types of bacteria that cause inflammatory acne. The inflammation in the follicle causes hair loss. This may explain why antibacterial shampoos are sometimes effective for hair loss.

  • Hair Repair Rx: Topical minoxidil is approved by FDA for the treatment of androgenic alopecia in women – another term for Female Pattern Hair Loss – however, the active ingredients have limited efficacy and can involve adverse effects, and any gains are lost when the treatment is discontinued. Spironolactone, a blood pressures medication, is commonly used because it slows down the production of androgens. A 2015 study found that almost 75% of participants with female pattern hair loss noticed an improvement in their hair loss after taking spironolactone. However, this is an off-label use, and does have some side effects ranging from fatigue to irregular periods, breast tenderness, low sex drive, and depression, to gastrointestinal bleeding and about 10 others. It usually takes about 6 months to see significant effects, so you’re on it for a while.
  • Alternatives to consider: Zinc and green tea extract have both been shown in small studies to reduce 5-reductase leading to increased testosterone levels. Melatonin in a topical spray, which a review of five small studies concluded might be effective for reducing local oxidative stress and androgens, and reduce hair loss not just with FPHL but possibly from other causes as well – and given its safety – is worth trying. Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) inhibits 5-alpha reductase which is the enzyme that converts testosterone to the more potent DHT hormone. Reishi has many other health benefits including immune enhancement and stabilization of the HPA (adrenal) axis.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a condition that affects as many as 1 in 8 women. Its hallmark hormonal imbalance is elevated testosterone, which in turn causes FPHL in an estimated 20% of women with PCOS. The hair loss associated with PCOS, as for other women dealing with this symptom, is alarming for most women and devastating for a subset with significant loss. But what is it that causes elevated testosterone in PCOS? Insulin resistance is the culprit in a significant number of women with this condition. Oddly, however, in women with PCOS, insulin resistance isn’t always evident on lab results. Why? Because in this case the insulin resistance may be causing problems at levels that still fall within the normal range on labs – so your doctor may not even be able to detect it. What can you do?

  • Hair Repair Rx: Many women can achieve dramatic improvements in PCOS – and even reversal/remission. I’ve seen great success with the basic protocol I share here as an excellent starting place. PCOS does carry potentially serious health consequences if not properly treated, so it’s also important to follow this plan in conjunction with a skilled licensed women’s health care provider. Additionally, it’s important to know that hair loss is often one of the last areas of improvement noticed – it can take months for your hormones to rebalance, hair loss to stop, and regrowth to occur. So be patient to the extent you can muster, waiting for results, which should start to be noticeable in 3 to 6 months.

Insulin resistance

Either on its own, or in conjunction with PCOS, this hormone imbalance may lead to hair loss. Restoring blood sugar balance and reducing inflammation are keys to reversing insulin resistance – which can absolutely be done in most women by following a Mediterranean-style diet, sometimes by using intermittent fasting for a short period of time, and if needed, supportive nutritional supplements. This is important not only for reversing hair loss, but for long-term health in nearly every aspect of your well-being. Insulin resistance untreated can lead to Type 2 Diabetes and wreak havoc on your life. I discuss insulin resistance in my article on PCOS here and provide an extensive plan in The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution, as well as in my forthcoming book on women’s hormones (December 2020).

Thyroid Problems

Both Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease are notorious causes of hair loss, particularly a form called alopecia areata. In fact, nearly 25% of new cases of this form of hair loss are associated with the presence of anti-thyroid antibodies and thyroid dysfunction. Of note, not only is zinc important for healthy thyroid function, but healthy thyroid function is necessary for zinc absorption. In one study, supplementing zinc along with thyroid medication led to hair regrowth after loss.

  • Hair Repair Rx: Get a complete thyroid panel test; consider iodine, selenium, zinc, inositol, and other thyroid care supplements in addition to thyroid medication if needed. See my website for articles and podcasts on thyroid health, and grab a copy of my book, The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution for a comprehensive plan.

Postpartum hair loss

Having a baby is a major life event – and usually, even in the best of circumstances, a stressful time. It causes your follicles to go into a resting phase (at least some part of you is resting – LOL!) and after a few months, typically around 4 months after a baby’s birth, your hair can seem like it’s falling out in gobs. Hang in there – it stops on its own within a few months. This same kind of hair loss can also occur after illness,  a trauma, or surgery.

  • Hair Repair Rx: Give it some time, continue to take your prenatal vitamin, and bone up with a rich nettles infusion daily to provide minerals and support your adrenals. Thyroid problems are also super common even up to a year post-baby, so if you have thyroid-related symptoms, get a complete thyroid panel tested.

 


How to Make Nettles Infusion

  • In a mason jar or French Press, steep 2 TBS of organic dried nettle leaf  in 2 cups boiling water for 1 hour.
  • Optionally add 2 tsp red raspberry lead and 1 tsp peppermint leaf for a delicious uterine tonic!
  • Strain and drink hot or iced.

I love making plain nettles infusion and adding a dash of umeboshi plum vinegar, 1 tsp of miso paste, or a low-sodium natural bouilion cube and enjoying as you would bone broth. It's a mineral rich tea that some herbalists also consider to be a mild adaptogen, support the adrenal stress response.


Low Iron

How is low iron a hormonal issue? Heavy periods, bleeding from uterine fibroids, etc., can all cause you to get low on your iron stores, and this can lead to hair loss. In one study, over 80% of women affected by hair loss were found to have ferritin levels of less than 70 µg/L. Other nutritional insufficiencies, including protein, EFAs, and trace vitamins and minerals, can cause hair loss. Zinc and Vitamin D status also appears to play a significant role.

  • Hair Repair Rx: Get your ferritin levels checked – it’s the best way to detect low iron; make sure to increase your dietary iron intake and take 30 to 60 mg of iron + 500 mg Vitamin C to aid absorption, daily for 3 to 6 months, then recheck levels. The goal is a ferritin level of at or slightly above 70 µg/L. Also take a multivitamin.

The Mirena IUD (and Other Hormone Treatments)

While the statistics are still limited due to lack of research on the association between the Mirena and hair loss, it is a known side-effect. Other hormone treatments, for example, aromatase inhibitors and GnRH analogues used to treat endometriosis, uterine fibroids, progestin-only birth control, and drugs used as part of some chemotherapy protocols may also cause hair loss. This may not be evident at first, so you might not connect hair loss that starts months later with a medication you’re currently taking, or took for a short time in the recent past. But if hair loss starts within a few months of using any of these, or other medications, that could be your cause, and usually discontinuing the medication will stop hair loss, and growth will resume. Of course, check with your medical provider before you discontinue any medications.

Peri-Menopause and Premature Menopause

Some amount of female pattern hair loss or thinning is very common in perimenopause, affecting about 6% of all women. Estrogen helps to keep hair follicles healthy; as it declines the hair follicles may shrink and hair may fall out as a result. A relatively higher androgen state leads peri-menopausal hair loss to fall into the category of Female Pattern Hair Loss, discussed earlier.

The commonness doesn’t make it any less disconcerting, but it’s important to know that for some women, this is the cause, and we can either accept it or do something about it – which usually means some form of attention to your hormones. It’s also super important to note that if you’re experiencing hair loss and possibly other symptoms of perimenopause, but you’re under 42 years old, this can be a sign of premature menopause – in which case it’s super important to consult with an MD, NP, or CNM who can do a proper workup to help you either restore ovarian function, or if needed, help you create a plan that’s bone, heart, and brain protective.

  • Hair Repair Rx: Follow the recommendations above for FPHL, and use supplements and herbs to revitalize ovarian function (more to come in my next book, due out December 2020, and forthcoming articles on my website).
  • There’s also a limited repertoire of herbs, but some may be helpful, for example, adaptogens, Puereria mirifica, or nettles infusion may be worth a try.
  • As perimenopause is also often an emotionally stressful time as we navigate this new stage in life, and may be accompanied by sleep challenges as well, consider a holistic plan to restore healthy sleep and adaptogens to support stress resilience.

Don’t Miss Other Medical – and Non-Medical Causes

The most common non-medical cause of hair loss is actually styling. Some hair dyes and other products and even certain hair styles, can cause hair damage and loss. Traction alopecia can occur as the result of hair styles that pull on your hair roots, including tight ponytails and buns, or corn rows. If your hair follicles are damaged, this can even lead to permanent hair loss. So loosen up on your styles.

One of the most common medical causes of hair loss to consider is autoimmune disease. Alopecia means hair loss;  alopecia areata and alopecia universalis are autoimmune conditions in which hair loss is the main symptom. It’s estimated that about 6.8 million Americans are affected; it’s also more common with autoimmune thyroid disorders. Hair loss with autoimmune alopecia can also include loss of eye brows, eye lashes, and in alopecia universalis, total loss of body hair. Model Jeana Turner, who suffers from autoimmune alopecia, did a power reveal on America’s Top Model, showing us how emotionally painful it is to not only live with this condition – but how both terrifying and liberating it is to stop hiding it.

Genetics also play a major role. Disappointingly,  if the women in your family have largely experienced hair thinning, or, believe it or not, the men in your family have early baldness, this can play a role in determining your own hair thickness – or thinning and loss over time. When genetics play the most significant role, a natural approach may help, but hormonal therapy may be needed.

What You Can Expect

None of us wants to lose our beautiful, luscious hair. It’s devastating. Getting a clear understanding of what’s at the root of hair loss is key because some root causes are readily reversible, and though hair regrowth may take months to be noticeable, it can definitely happen and avoiding that trigger may prevent It from ever recurring. But I’m never going to mislead you – for some women a natural approach isn’t enough if the causes are autoimmune, involve scarring at the hair follicles, or is deeply woven into your genes. If you’re experiencing hair loss that can’t be explained by the common hormonal causes, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis, and regardless of the cause, working with a skilled integrative practitioner, or team including a nutritionist, and if needed, someone for mental health support to cope with the deeper emotional and psychological experience of hair loss can help you to find the root cause, heal, and find resilience in the process.

There are so many ways we give up on ourselves, our power, and our belief in our beauty. This is a really important time to find the best ways for you to feel your best in the world. There’s no shame in hair loss, and it’s more common than any of us can see on the surface. There’s no shame in inserts, wigs, or anything else that makes you feel your most powerful and comfortable. There’s no shame in trying a natural approach or using medical options (as long as you’re aware of any risks). If you’re able to regrow a luscious head of hair – I’m so happy for you because I know how great that will feel. And if you aren’t, and decide to go GI Jane, sister, we’ll be cheering for you, too. Wherever you land with this, may you feel BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL.


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