PCOS Hair Loss: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a common hormonal condition that develops in some women during the childbearing years. PCOS affects 27% of women during this period. It is a common medical condition that involves increased levels of male hormones, irregular menstrual cycle, and cysts in the ovaries.
The term “polycystic” means “many cysts”. These cysts found inside the ovaries are small sacs filled with fluid that contain immature eggs. In PCOS, the ovaries are unable to release eggs for ovulation. That is why some women who have PCOS may have fertility issues. 
Who is affected by PCOS?
Women in their childbearing years are affected by PCOS, especially between 15 and 44 years old. Usually, women in their 20’s or 30’s find out they have PCOS when they encounter problems of getting pregnant, and they set a doctor’s appointment.
Regardless of ethnicity and race, women of the childbearing age are placed at risk of developing PCOS. Women who are obeyed or who have a family history of PCOS have an increased risk of developing the syndrome.
Causes of PCOS
Genetics: It has not been established if what is the exact cause of PCOS. Medical experts link it strongly to the role of genetics. If your mother, sister, cousin, or aunt, you are at a higher risk of developing PCOS.
Overproduction of Male Hormones: Normally, women produce small amounts of male hormones in the body, called androgens. Women who have PCOS produce more male hormones than usual, which causes the male traits to appear (e.g., facial hair or male-pattern baldness). Increased levels of androgens prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs and thus initiate conception.
High Insulin Levels: The hormone insulin is an essential component in helping the food coming in the body to be converted into energy by the body’s cells. The insulin helps in regulating the blood glucose levels. When the body is resistant to insulin, the body’s cells do not respond the way it should; this results in high blood sugar levels.
Most women diagnosed with PCOS has insulin resistance and tend to become overweight or obese. With the combination of insulin resistance, unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, and family history may lead to type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of PCOS
The three primary PCOS symptoms that women should look out for are; irregular periods, excess male hormones, and polycystic ovaries. If you have two out of three of these symptoms, you need to consult with your healthcare provider to confirm the PCOS diagnosis.
- Irregular Menstrual Cycle: Since there are a hormonal imbalance and the ovaries’ inability to produce eggs, this leads to an irregular menstrual cycle. Women with PCOS will miss a few periods (or fewer than eight periods in one year). Some do not even have their menstrual periods anymore.
- Increased Male Hormones: The increased androgen or male hormones will produce male traits. This will manifest as facial hairs (or hirsutism), body hair, male-trait baldness, hair thinning, and hair loss.
- Polycystic Ovaries: The ovaries will become enlarged and will contain fluid-filled sacs. This can be confirmed through a diagnostic procedure like ultrasound.
- Other symptoms: acne on the chest, face, and upper back. Difficulty in losing weight and weight gain. Darkening of skin, especially in the groin, neck creases, or under the breasts. Skin flaps or fragments in the neck or armpit area.
PCOS Hair Loss
The excessive production of androgens in women with PCOS is the major reason for hair loss. The extra androgen results in virilization, which refers to the outcome of masculine features like hair loss.
The hair, especially in front of the scalp, will start to thin, known as androgenic alopecia (the female pattern PCOS hair loss). Unfortunately, any hair loss during PCOS won’t grow back without any intervention. Luckily, there are treatments and home remedies that can stimulate new hair growth. There are even some tips for women to mask any hair loss. 
PCOS Hair Loss – Treatment Options
Since hair loss in PCOS is caused by hormonal imbalance, the treatment goal for hair loss in PCOS is hormone regulation. A few medications can be tried on a trial and error basis and a combination experiment to see what works best for hair growth. Here are some of the medications that physicians will recommend for hormone regulation when it comes to hair growth issues.
Oral Contraceptive Pills
Most physicians will recommend birth control pills that contain the female hormones estrogen and progestin. It will help in the production of female hormones so the male hormones will stop overproducing.
The intake of oral contraceptive pills will manage symptoms like hair loss, acne formation, menstrual irregularities, and excess body hair. The birth control pill will also work by preventing ovulation and reducing the ovary’s existing cysts.
Another medical drug that can help in the hair growth related to PCOS is the topical medicine Minoxidil. This is applied directly to the scalp daily to promote hair growth and thickness. It is proven to be useful in male pattern baldness.
However, the effects of Minoxidil will take 4-6 months before it comes to noticeable. The secret is consistent and regular use to appreciate the results long term.
Spironolactone is classified as a diuretic drug to promote urination. It is indicated for many uses lie low potassium levels, edema, heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, and hyperaldosteronism.
As mentioned earlier, there is an excess production of androgens in women with PCOS. Off-label use of Spironolactone is to treat androgenetic alopecia. The Spironolactone will work by excreting the excess androgen levels in the body. This will result in lesser hair loss and prevent acne formation. The low to normal levels of androgen in the body will also help in hair growth. It works best in combination with oral contraceptives.
Finasteride and Dutasteride
Both Finasteride and Dutasteride are FDA-approved drugs to treat male pattern hair loss. There are inadequate studies to prove that it also helps in female pattern hair loss, but doctors usually prescribe them to address hair loss in women with PCOS. It is best to consult with your doctor before the intake of these two medications.
Lastly, there is the surgical procedure where you can have a hair transplant implanted on your scalp. The hair and hair follicles from the scalp’s part where there is abundant growth will be removed. It will then be transferred to the area where there is evident balding or thinness.
This is not a one-time procedure, and it requires several trips back to the surgeon. This is considered a cosmetic procedure that can reach up to $15,000 but does not guarantee that it will work.
PCOS Hair Loss – Home Remedies
Of course, there are home remedies that combat hair loss caused by PCOS. Just like the medical approach’s goal, the target is to reduce the androgen levels in the body so it won’t lead to any PCOS hair loss. Here are some of the home remedies you can try. They may help to avoid costly hair transplants and medication.
Zinc is an essential vitamin in the growth and repair of the hair tissue. It keeps the oil production in the hair to work appropriately and hair follicles to function well.
When the body is deficient in zinc, it may cause hair loss. That is why it is recommended to take zinc supplements with at least 50 mg content daily. Try this supplement for eight straight weeks. Zinc is beneficial for hair-loss related to PCOS, promotes hair growth, and to prevent facial and body hair growth.
Biotin, a part of the Vitamin B family, most commonly called Vitamin H, plays an important role in hair growth and hair loss prevention. It is suggested to 2 to 5 mg of biotin daily to notice results.
The intake of Vitamin H. can address any hair loss or thinning related to PCOS. It can also improve the overall look and quality of the hair, thickness, and shine.
Unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity may lead to weight issues and obesity. This then leads to increased production of androgen in the body, PCOS and hair loss. To avoid all this, it is suggested to lose weight to prevent any signs and symptoms of PCOS like hair loss.
Even a small weight loss, like 5-10% of the current body weight, has significant impact in reducing the symptoms of PCOS. There will be average male hormone production, prevent the body and facial hair growth, acne formation, irregular menstruation, and hair loss.
Hair Extensions and Other Remedies For PCOS Hair Loss
If you’re looking for a faster home remedy alternative, wearing a wig to mask hair loss is another way to go. Before that, you can experiment with how you part your hair or use a cover-up powder. You can wear a partial weave to cover thinning areas or use volumizing hair products to make your hair look fuller.
You can conceal with a hat, a ribbon, headband or scarf. Try tying your hair in a ponytail, or wear a wig or weave to cover areas affected by thin or bald patches.