Irregular Periods May Signal Reason for Suboptimal Hair Growth
Not all women with irregular menstrual cycles have hair loss. But one fact is often missed by clinicians when evaluating hair loss: if cycles are irregular and the female patient with hair loss is not on any type of hormonal contraception and the patient is 18-40 years then at least one of the causes of hair loss is fairly likely to be the same cause as the cause of the irregular periods. It might not be the only cause … but it’s often a contributor in some way.
I define irregular periods as cycles more than 35 days apart or less then 21 days apart or cycles that are very, very different month to month (especially those of very different length or those that are unexpectedly lighter and lighter) or cycles that are repeatedly missed altogether. I actually don’t fuss to much about strict definitions: women who feel their cycles are very different than they used to be need careful consideration for potential reasons why this might be.
If the body’s delicate hormonal and metabolic machinery is not able to produce regular menstrual cycles, it is often not able to properly grow hair. The regularity of menstrual cycles is a key parameter to evaluate in all pre-menopausal females. I will emphasize again that not every time is the cause of irregular periods the cause of the hair loss. But the connection is often much, much closer than many realize.
It is job of every hair loss expert to answer these two questions when evaluating a premenopausal female patient with hair loss and irregular periods: a) what is the diagnosis of hair loss? b) what is the cause of irregular periods? c) is the cause of irregular periods linked in any way to the cause of hair loss? If the cause of irregular periods is unclear, referral to endocrinology or gynecology expert colleagues often proves very helpful to understanding the potential causes of hair loss.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss.
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