Approximately 90% of your hair is growing at any one time with the other 10% entering into a resting phase. Every two to three months, the resting hair falls out and allows new hair to grow in its place. Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. This is not uncommon, affecting somewhere between 40 to 50% of women; but like most changes that happen during pregnancy, it is temporary.
Is there abnormal hair loss during pregnancy?
Hair loss that is connected to pregnancy usually occurs after delivery. During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase, which is part of the normal hair loss cycle. This condition is not serious enough to cause bald spots or permanent hair loss, and should begin to diminish within 3-5 months after delivery. If you feel that you are experiencing unusual hair loss while you are pregnant, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Why do people talk about hair loss and pregnancy?
The most common period of hair loss related to pregnancy occurs approximately three months after delivery. The rise in hormones during pregnancy, keeps hair that would have normally fallen out. After delivery, the hormones return to normal levels, which allows the hair to fall out and return to the normal cycle. Unfortunately, the normal hair loss that had been delayed because of pregnancy tends to all fall out at the same time.
Up to 60% of your hair that is in the growth state may enter into the telogen resting state. The hair loss you may experience could worsen over the next four months and persist for several more as your hair follicles rejuvenate themselves. As noted before, this hair loss is temporary. Hair loss is usually replaced within six to twelve months.
Can hair loss be related to other reproductive health issues?
Hair loss can be triggered by anything that involves a change in the estrogen hormone balance in your system. Hair loss may result from any one or more of the following:
- Discontinuation of birth control pills or any other
- Hormonal type of birth control method
- Miscarriage or stillborn delivery
- Termination through abortion
- An imbalance involving the estrogen hormone
The Positive Side of Pregnancy and Your Hair
During pregnancy there is an increase in the level of estrogen hormones. The estrogen hormone causes hair to remain in the growing phase and stimulate the growth of your hair. While you are pregnant you should expect a full luxurious head of hair.
Recommendations for Your Hair During Pregnancy and After Delivery
There are a number of things that you can do to have a healthier head of hair and/or reduce the extent of some of the hair loss during pregnancy or after delivery:
- Consult with your physician to ensure a proper balance of hormones.
- Avoid pigtails, cornrows, hair weaves, braids and tight hair rollers which can pull and stress your hair.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which contain flavonoids, many of which are antioxidants that may provide protection for the hair follicles and encourage hair growth.
- Use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica.
- Hair is fragile when it is wet, so be gentle; avoid fine tooth combs
If you need to use blow dryers and other heated hair instruments, try to use the cooler, lower settings. Supplement your diet with the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin E
- Pygeum and Saw Palmetto
Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association