Androgenic alopecia is one of the most frequent hair loss types affecting both men and women. People who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome are at an increased risk of developing this condition (PCOS).
A hormonal condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is responsible for the growth of fluid-filled cysts in addition to the swelling of the ovaries. As a result of an increase in male hormones, women with PCOS frequently experience additional symptoms, such as acne, weight gain, hirsutism, and hair loss.
The healthcare professional will be able to assist you in determining whether PCOS is the cause of hair loss and how to manage it. This page discusses the signs and symptoms of androgenic alopecia and the potential causes of the condition. It also includes some drugs to address hair loss in patients with PCOS.
Androgenic Alopecia Signs in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Patterned hair loss in both sexes can be attributed to androgenic alopecia, also called androgenetic alopecia. PCOS patients typically exhibit a pattern of hair loss that is distinct from that of men who suffer from male pattern baldness.
The hair loss associated with male pattern baldness often begins at the top frontal region of the scalp and progresses gradually toward the neck’s nape and the head’s rear. When a woman experiences hair loss, the pattern might develop in any of these two ways:
- The thinning will begin in the middle of the scalp and progress outward in a round pattern over time.
- It is uncommon for androgenic alopecia to occur by itself in patients who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may also suffer from the following:
- Gaining excess weight or becoming obese
- Abnormal or irregular menstruation
- No periods
- Problems with acne and oily skin
- Hirsutism mainly on the chest, buttocks, and face
- Fertility problems
The PCOS-Related Roots of Androgenic Alopecia
There is no clear understanding of what causes PCOS. It is assumed to entail a combination of environmental and genetic variables that cause an imbalance in male and female hormones. These factors can be inherited or acquired from the environment (called androgens).
When everything is normal, both males and females have a specific ratio of estrogens to androgens in their bodies, which determines how well their bodies work. When the equilibrium is disrupted, various hormonal issues may manifest themselves.
Testosterone is the hormone essential for male sex traits such as facial hair, larger stature, muscle development, and a deeper tone in males. In addition, the transition of testosterone into the androgen, called dihydrotestosterone, is another factor that leads to hair loss.
Around ten percent of testosterone in males and females is turned into DHT throughout this process. After being secreted into the bloodstream, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can bind to receptors on follicles, causing those follicles to become smaller. The hair can grow noticeably thinner even if it does not fall out.
How To Approach the Treatment of Androgenic Alopecia When You Have PCOS
People with androgenic alopecia can benefit from some over-the-counter remedies, prescription drugs, and procedures performed by specialists, even if the effectiveness of these treatments can vary.
Medications Available Without a Prescription
In the United States, Rogaine, an over-the-counter topical medication, is the only product allowed to treat female hair loss (minoxidil).
Rogaine will not reverse the hair loss caused by PCOS, but it can help you manage it. It is important to note that if you stop taking Rogaine, your hair loss could start again.
Iron supplements are another alternative that you can purchase without a prescription. Iron deficiency has been linked to female pattern hair loss, and some research suggests that taking iron supplements could help prevent this type of hair loss.
More drugs function directly on the hormones that are involved in sexual activity. They might be recommended to you if Rogaine doesn’t work for you or if blood tests suggest that you have abnormally high levels of androgen in your system. There is only a small amount of evidence to support their utilization. The results may be different. The following are examples of many of the prescription drugs that are used to manage female pattern baldness:
- Spironolactone: Women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) take spironolactone in conjunction with birth control tablets. The oral diuretic, also known as a “water pill,” possesses anti-androgenic features. Additionally, it is compatible with the Rogaine treatment.
- Finasteride: The oral medication, which you can purchase under brand names such as Proscar and Propecia, is often prescribed to treat enlarged prostates. People with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may benefit from using it even though it is not approved for that usage. Due to the possibility of congenital problems, you should combine it with another method of birth control.
- Flutamide: The medicine, once marketed and distributed under the trade name Eulexin, is most frequently employed in the treatment of prostate cancer but possesses anti-androgenic properties. Despite this, it is linked to a significantly increased danger of liver toxicity and liver damage.
The Methods Used to Identify PCOS
There is not currently a test available that can conclusively identify PCOS. It is necessary to rule out all possible alternative explanations when diagnosing PCOS. In most cases, the inquiry will begin with the tests and procedures that are listed below:
Pelvic exam: This is a physical checkup of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, and other pelvic parts.
Blood tests: Anti-Mullerian hormone testing, blood glucose screening, and other hormone analyses are all standard ways to diagnose PCOS.
Ultrasound examination of the cervix: A hand-held instrument is placed into the vagina to obtain images of the ovaries. Ovaries that are 1.5 to 3 times bigger than average are typically seen in people with PCOS.
If you are experiencing significant distress due to female pattern hair loss, speak with your primary care physician about the possibility of being referred to a medical expert called an endocrinologist. These are medical professionals who have received specialized training in the treatment of conditions affecting the endocrine system. They can recommend the most current and cutting-edge therapies for illnesses such as androgenic alopecia.