Hair loss in men is a common and reasonably well understood phenomenon. More importantly, it is now more socially acceptable for men to go bald, with the ‘shaven’ look garnering general acceptability. This is certainly not the case with hair loss for women. The emotional and psychological impact that hair loss has to a female is extreme and unfortunately, is commonly a conversation that is neglected.
Studies have shown that 50-60% of pregnant women experience some degree of hair loss in the months following childbirth. This Post-Partum hair shedding is generally hormonally mediated. The hormone in question is Oestrogen. During pregnancy, the body massively increases its production of Oestrogen which along with a myriad of other functions, has a protective effect on the hair follicle. You may have heard the term “pregnant women have wonderfully luscious hair”? That’s Oestrogen. It results in a thicker hair shaft and also reduces the normal rate of shedding that the hair would normally undergo. Thicker hairs that hang around for longer.
Immediately post delivery (with delivery of the placenta), the production of Oestrogen suddenly drops. It usually takes a few weeks for the levels in the body to drop, and with the lack of the protective effect of the Oestrogen; the hair undergoes a ‘shedding phase’. Whilst this is extremely distressing for every woman concerned, on the plus side; it is usually temporary. As per the normal hair cycle, the hair normally starts to regrow within the next 3 months. Since hair grows at an average rate of 1cm per month, in many cases it can take up to a year for a woman to feel that they have returned to their ‘normal’ hair state.
Treatment during this time is generally not required as the hair usually returns back to normal. In some cases, use of hair stimulators such as Low Level Laser Therapy and Minoxidil have the potential of increasing the rate of regrowth in the growth phase of the hairs.