Hair loss is commonly thought of as a male condition, although nearly 40 percent of women experience hair loss by the age of 50. While male pattern baldness may typically be more common and noticeable than female pattern baldness, women can experience additional hair loss following pregnancy. Hair thinning after pregnancy, known as postpartum alopecia, is a common and normal effect of pregnancy and rarely a cause for concern.
What Causes Postpartum Alopecia?
During pregnancy, normal hormonal changes result in an increase of estrogen and progesterone levels. This increase affects hair growth by placing hair in an ongoing growing or resting phase. Each hair follicle goes through four cycles in its lifetime: anagen (the growing phase), catagen (the resting phase), telogen (the resting phase), and exogen (the shedding phase). During pregnancy, hormonal changes cause hair to remain in a prolonged anagen or telogen phase, meaning hair that would normally have fallen out during the time of the pregnancy will continue growing or remain resting.
How Long Does It Last?
For women, losing 80 to 100 strands of hair per day is typical. During postpartum hair loss, women may lose up to 400 strands of hair per day. Postpartum hair loss can begin any time after childbirth but tends to peak around the three- to four-month mark. The majority of women experience ongoing hair loss for about six months, but it can last up to one year. Any hair loss continuing over one year after giving birth should prompt a consultation with a hair loss expert.
Postpartum hair loss is especially noticeable because pregnancy makes hair appear fuller and thicker due to increased volume. During postpartum alopecia, nine months of normal hair loss are essentially squeezed into a three-month period, making the hair loss more noticeable. Once estrogen levels drop and hormone levels begin to rebalance, new hair growth can begin.
What Can I Do About It?
Unfortunately, postpartum alopecia is simply a normal part of pregnancy and is not preventable. About 90 percent of women experience postpartum alopecia. In order to help disguise hair loss, some women opt to change their hairstyle or hair color in an attempt to adjust to their thinning hair. Using hair volumizing shampoos and products can also help minimize the noticeable changes in hair thickness.
If you are worried about imminent hair thinning following your pregnancy or have started to experience postpartum alopecia yourself, rest assured that your hair will come back and return to its prenatal volume. If you continue to experience hair loss over one year following your pregnancy, call Medikemos Hair Transplantation Clinic to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lupanzula, our hair loss expert. He will evaluate your hair loss and work with you one-on-one to determine a diagnosis and develop a solution.