Baldness - Hairloss & pregnancy

Hairloss & pregnancy

Women who have been through pregnancy will recall how they are told that they will "bloom" and their skin and hair will be "radiant" etc. Most women have one or two other things on their mind at this time! However, many women do notice their hair is thicker i.e. it has more volume. Some report stronger nails and fewer spots and blotches on the skin.....others don't. The changing hormonal environment during pregnancy has effects on skin and hair. These are poorly understood. It seems a cruel trick of nature that in the first three months after delivery, when some women are at their lowest following sleep deprivation, the typical parental anxieties and trying to keep up with all the usual domestic chores, that their hair starts to fall out.

It is estimated that up to 50% of women are affected, some who have had no problems following previous pregnancies can be affected in subsequent ones. Again the exact causes are unknown, but it is known that during pregnancy the hormonal environment affects the anagen/telogen (A/T) ratio. This keeps more hairs in the anagen phase so their are more hair follicles than normal actively producing hair fibre. After birth the hormones return to normal and the A/T ratio falls to below normal. Hairs that should have been in telogen during pregnancy go into it in a synchronous fashion. This synchrony means that more hairs than normal are in the resting (telogen) phase.

With time the A/T ratio returns to normal and hair volume increases. As the duration of telogen is typically about 3 months it will take this long to return to normal. So even once signalled to re-grow there is a delay in growth as the fibre has to grow up through the skin and emerge from the surface. This can take 3-6 weeks.

This pattern of retaining follicles in anagen and then having hair fall when the stimulus is removed is similar to the effects of the drug minoxidil. This hair loss can be a major concern to women, better education is the only treatment. Unless there is an underlying disease process (which is rare) normal hair, if not life, will be restored following pregnancy.

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