Hair loss treatment: Anti-androgens ideal for women with polycystic ovaries – symptoms

Frankie Bridge says she’s been diagnosed with polycystic ovaries

Almost every woman will eventually develop female pattern hair loss, with some people more affected than others. The prominence of androgens – found in women with polycystic ovary syndrome – can accelerate hair loss. Classified as a hormonal disorder by the Mayo Clinic, women with PCOS have excess androgens (a male hormone). If the ovaries produce high levels of androgen, hirsutism and acne can emerge.

Hirsutism is the growth of dark, coarse hair on the face, chest and back – typical of where men have hair.

An additional sign of PCOS is infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual periods.

This can include fewer than nine periods in one year, more than 35 days between periods or abnormally heavy periods.

In PCOS, the ovaries in the reproductive system may enlarge and develop

numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) that surround the eggs.

As a result, the ovaries may not regularly release eggs, which can affect fertility.

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Signs of PCOS tend to emerge in puberty, but it can also develop in response to substantial weight gain.

For women experiencing hair loss due to excessive androgens, Harvard Medical School confirmed that anti-androgen medication called spironolactone (Aldactone) could help prevent further hair loss.

This is prescribed medication, which may have side effects, such as: weight gain, loss of libido, depression, and fatigue.

For women without PCOS, minoxidil is the most popular treatment method to address hair loss.

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Harvard Medical School noted research confirmed that “minoxidil directly applied to the scalp could stimulate hair growth”.

There are over-the-counter options of two and five percent strengths of minoxidil.

Although minoxidil can produce some new growth of fine hair, it can’t restore the full density of lost hair.

To see results, you must use minoxidil consistently for at least two months; the effects usually peak four months after use.

However it may take longer to work for some people, so Harvard Medical School advise trialling the hair loss solution for up to 12 months.

If minoxidil does work for you, you’ll need to incorporate it into your daily routine.

This is because you’ll start to experience hair loss again if you stop treatment.

Another cause of hair loss in women could be an iron deficiency, which can be addressed by taking a iron supplement.

Iron deficiency can occur in women who are vegetarians or have a history of anaemia.

If you have normal iron levels – which can be confirmed by a blood test done at the GP’s clinic – then taking iron supplements will only lead to side effects.

Side effects of excessive iron supplementation include stomach upset and constipation.

One other option to consider hair loss in women is having a hair transplant.

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