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What Causes Hair Loss After Pregnancy?

Experiencing a sudden increase in hair shedding or noticing areas of thinning hair can be very worrisome for any woman, much less one who has just given birth. Hair loss after pregnancy is not unusual, however. Typically, a woman will experience thinning or excess shedding about two to three months post-partum.

There are three main causes of hair loss after pregnancy, none of which are permanent.
While you were pregnant, you may have noticed that your hair seemed thicker and lusher. This is due to the hormone, estrogen, which increases during pregnancy.

The growth cycle of a hair consists of three phases: the anagen phase, which is the growth phase of a hair; the catagen phase, which is a transition phase that prepares the hair for the resting phase; and the telegon phase, which is a resting phase during which time the hair follicle remains dormant. During any point in time, approximately 15% of the hairs on your head are in the telegon phase. During this phase, the hair is not growing, but it is still attached to your scalp. After two to four months, the anagen phase will begin in the hair follicle, and the new hair will push out the old one, causing shedding.

Estrogen causes hair follicles to remain in the resting phase longer than normal, which accounts for the increase in hair thickness. Once you have your baby and your estrogen levels begin to fall to normal levels, the extended resting period is over, and the anagen phase will begin. This means that a larger than normal number of hairs will be shed over a short period of time as the old hairs are pushed out of the hair follicles. Once all of the old hairs are shed, hair may be noticeably thinner for a short period of time. Fortunately, after a few months you should see your hair beginning to return to its normal thickness.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium, or TE, is another cause of hair loss after pregnancy.

TE occurs when something occurs in or to the body that essentially shocks some of your hair follicles into the telegon, or resting, phase. Rather than the >normal 15% or so of hair follicles resting, a much larger percentage of resting follicles occurs. With TE, the length of the telogen phase is not affected, so when the anagen phase occurs within two to four months, the old hairs are pushed out or shed. Because so many hairs were in the telogen phase at one time, the shedding can cause a noticeable hair loss. Pregnancy is one of the causes of shock to the body that can cause TE. Once the hair has been shed, new hair is already growing to replace those that were lost, and hair thickness should return to normal after several months. New hair growth can also be encouraged by using a topical treatment with Minoxidil similar to Follinox 5.

Iron Deficiency

It is not uncommon for women to be slightly to moderately anemic post-partum. Anemia refers to a low level of red blood cells in the body, and iron is crucial in preventing anemia. Iron is important for keeping cells oxygenated, which gives them energy. If iron is deficient, it can affect the efficiency of oxygenation throughout the body.

As the body will automatically oxygenate the cells of organs and other crucial systems first, hair cells can be deprived of oxygen, which can cause hair loss. Your doctor can test your blood to determine if your iron level is deficient. Restoring your iron level will help return your hair growth to normal. Generally a regimen that includes post-natal vitamins is sufficient to ensure new hair growth.

Vitamins for hair growth such as Growth & Strength and shampoos and conditioners with Trichogen help stimulate scalp circulation and provide balanced nutrition (including iron supplements) and focus on those vitamins most critical for healthy follicle development.