Does Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?

When it comes to birth control, it's sometimes safe to expect the unexpected. While hormonal birth control has been available since 1960, it doesn't mean it's not without its side effects (via Planned Parenthood). Although those side effects vary from person to person, and some people never have an issue, the fact remains that when hormones are pumped into the body, problems can arise. One of those problems can even be hair loss in some people — because weight gain, libido interruptions, acne, nausea, risk of blood clots, and irregular periods wasn't enough (via American Family Physician).

The reasons for potential hair loss from birth control use can be blamed on progestin, a form of progesterone. Certain types of progestins can cause the same effect as androgens, a hormone that can disrupt the hair growth cycle (via Medical News Daily). "Some progestins are more androgenic, and it seems that the more androgen effect it has, the more likely it would cause hair loss," Sophia Yen, M.D., M.P.H., the co-founder and CEO of Pandia Health, tells Shape.

If you think you're experiencing some level of hair loss, it might not all be in your head. It might, in fact, be your birth control.

What you can do about hair loss

As is the case with all hormonal birth control, it's a trial-and-error process. Sometimes you need to try more than one birth control before you find the hormonal method that's best for you and your body. Not every birth control is compatible with everybody; that's why there are so many options out there.

If you want to avoid the possibility of hair loss or have noticed your hair getting thinner, talk to your doctor about being prescribed a hormonal contraceptive that contains low levels of androgens. Even if you haven't lost any hair, at least not a noticeable amount, contraceptives high in androgens can also force hair into a resting phase where it just doesn't grow anymore (via Healthline).

If you try a variety of hormonal contraceptives, even ones with a lower index of androgens, and the hair loss issue isn't remedied, you still have other options. For example, corticosteroid injections, Rogaine, and light therapy can help with hair growth or retaining the hair you have (via Verywell Health).

What you should know about hair loss from birth control

It's worth noting that those who have a history of hair loss in their family are more likely to experience hair loss from birth control. But, on the flip side of that, some birth control pills are actually used as a hair loss treatment (via Everyday Health). Hormones really are an interesting part of the body.

When it comes to actual hair loss treatment, the following pills are the ones you'll be prescribed if hair loss becomes a problem for you: Desogen, Ortho-Cept, Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and Micronor (via Everyday Health). If you are experiencing hair loss, it's important to keep in mind that it doesn't necessarily mean it's your birth control or your genes, either.

"Stress, genetics, trauma, childbirth, excessive dieting, any viral illnesses — including, in current pandemic times, Covid — can contribute to hair loss," Dj Singh, M.D., an OB-GYN, tells Shape. "Sometimes it does take a team of specialists along with your primary physician, such as endocrinologists, OB-GYNs, dermatologists, and/or rheumatologists, depending on the underlying medical condition, [to find the right] treatment."

So don't fret. You're lucky enough to live in a time where things like hair loss have multiple solutions. In other words, you don't have to give up your dreams of being Rapunzel one day. There are medications and treatments out there to keep those locks of yours growing and flowing.