birth control pills

Getting Off The Birth Control Pill After 13 Years - My  Biggest and Hardest Hair Loss DecisionI’m sitting awake in my hotel room in Florida. My mind flooded with thoughts and my fiancé snoring soundly beside me. I had no chance of sleep I tell ya… no chance.

As usual, Florida time means PRP time. I did have my 8th PRP therapy treatment with Dr. Joseph Greco yesterday afternoon. At first glance all seems the same, snoring fiancé, PRP, Florida, hangover…. but it’s not. About a month or so ago I made a very hard personal decision for myself, and  just to bring you up to emotional speed on this one, just starting to type the word “decision” started the tears rolling down face, because it’s a decision wrought with so many emotions and so much pain.

My hair loss started in 1999 (I was 21 years old) after the cessation of the pill Loestrin FE, dumb luck struck and that one act caused the following years of misery, sadness and self loathing as I tried to cope with losing my hair. I was so incredibly alone when this happened, I was desperate, beyond desperate and I was willing to try and do anything I could to just get the shedding to stop and hopefully get my hair to grow back, so I made a choice I have regretted ever since. At the suggestion of a physician I got back on the birth control pill. While the pill can be the cause of hair loss, doctors also use it to try and stabilize the hormones to treat it. I didn’t want to, I was so scared, but I did. Many times I’ve wished I was stronger and just said no. No to the doctor and no to myself. I knew what the pill did to me the first time, why get back on something I would forever be a slave to? Good question. Answer: Desperation and lack of foresight.

Getting back on the pill essentially meant never being able to get off it. The amount of shedding that occurred when I got off the pill the first time was INSANE, I’m talking about waking up to fist fulls of hair on my pillow. I had a ton of hair back then and while no one wants to loose their hair, looking back I had hair to spare. I have none to spare today I can assure you. Knowing this, I started to feel very trapped on the pill, how could I ever get off again? I was stuck on a medication I had so much animosity towards and worse my hair continued to decline so I had no way of knowing if it ever helped in the first place, and since we all know we just love to poke ourselves in the eye with our torture sticks, I’d constantly remind myself that I never really allowed my body the chance to heal on its own, to stabilize it’s own hormones without the use of any medication. Maybe in a few years time all would have resumed to normal, or maybe not, but I’ll never know. [click to continue…]

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I’ve seen enough fabulous hair pieces and wigs to know that it remains a very realistic, viable option for women who deal with hair loss. But the question always remains, where do you go? I know I’d definitely want to go somewhere that was caring, compassionate, patient, and a place that wasn’t pushy and truly had my best interest at heart. After all we aren’t buying iphones, we are buying something so intimately personal, I think a little TLC and hand holding is in order.

There is no question in my mind that a lot of women close the door to wearing hair because their first attempt turned out to be an awful and traumatizing experience, or the product was subpar, and from that they probably figured there was no point in continuing to try. Unfortunately, wearing hair isn’t really SO common that you can just turn to your girlfriend and say, “Love your hair, where’d you get it?” It’s also a completely different experience when you are buying hair because you NEED it, as opposed to buying it because you just think it would look neat with an outfit. One situation has deep rooted emotions and the other is really more of an optional accessory. For that reason, it is crucial to find a place that actually deals with women losing their hair and understands the devastation and feelings that encompasses it.

I think finding a good hair replacement salon is probably tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack, so I wanted to share the names of two shops that seem to truly be helping women.

I have heard several positive stories about:

Lee Anthony
1001 W. 17th Street, Suite H
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949-515-0631
leeanthony.com

One WHLP member stated that Lee actually told her that it was too soon for her to need to wear something, which I think definitely shows honesty and integrity.

The place I most recently heard about is:

Wigs Today
6338 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 9006
323-954-8809

If you make a visit here, make sure it’s the address I listed above. I did find another place in Los Angeles by the same name, which had horrible reviews, but I’m pretty certain this isn’t the same place. According to the listing I found on Yahoo: http://local.yahoo.com/info-20415634-wigs-today-los-angeles#overview this place was only recently established in 2009.

I am super cautious about ever recommending a product or service provider, but I feel confident that the experiences I have heard about regarding these salons are from real women who have been a part of the site for quite sometime with no ulterior motives.

As a final note, I’d also run (not walk) from any place that asked you to sign a contract, gave you a hard sell or made you feel uncomfortable in any way whatsoever.

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I Will Beat This – Jessica’s Hair Loss Story

by admin on September 11, 2009

I had written awhile back but wanted to send you my story again, and this time post some positive updates.

One thing that I noticed way back when my hairloss journey started, was that the negative posts and testimonials by far outweighed the positive ones. My fear was that most women were losing this hairloss battle. My hope was that once they solved their hairloss nightmare, they were too busy not worrying about their hair to post their updates. I want to submit my story because I am having positive results as I attempt to figure out what has happened to my hair and how to stop the cycle of loss.

It was 2004 when my life changed. It was 3 months after I had stopped taking birth control (alesse) and my hair was coming out in ropes. I’ll never forget taking a shower before going out one Friday evening, and my hands were covered with hair. At the time, I had no clue that it was related to the cessation of using birth control. I thought I was dying, from cancer, from something. I stayed home that night and didn’t go out, I’ll never forget sobbing the whole evening, scouring the internet trying to figure out what was going on. My vanity was bruised. I remember feeling too ugly and embarrassed to be social or even go to the gym. I took a 3 week leave of absence from my job to go be with my then-boyfriend (now wonderful husband!) in Europe where he was for work. I needed his support and he was truly there for me no matter how embarrassed I was. I had extensions put in after much research, just to make me feel like I had hair again. I did everything I could to mask what was going on with my hair, while I devoured information to figure out what happened to me. It was then that I realized it was the birth control pill.

I made the mistake of jumping back on birth control because doctors told me that I might be responsive to a hair-friendly pill like Yaz or Yasmin. I chose Yasmin and figured I would just stay on it the rest of my life if I had to. Back then, all I cared about was how I looked, not about my health. I kept the extensions in for about 2 years. One day I went into the salon to get them done and my stylist said – “You know you don’t need these anymore. They are just your security right now. Your hair is fine.” What?? My hair was fine?? I was so used to the weight of the extensions that I didn’t believe her. She washed my hair and cut it without the extensions, and we blowed it dry. She was right, I looked totally normal. I was ELATED. I don’t think I stopped touching my hair for days. It was all mine, and I looked absolutely normal. It had thin spots, sure, but I could wear it up or down and it had body and I looked like me again. It was not nearly as thick as it was before the loss, but it was enough. [click to continue…]

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Three Minutes of Freedom

by admin on March 6, 2009

Get Out and Start Living

I got up this morning, walked the dog, came home, fed the dog. Threw on some workout clothes and hopped down to the gym (garage). I put my earphones on, I turn the ipod on, and I started the treadmill. The first song queued up is one of my favorites, and it just puts my mind at such ease and makes me smile. The song only lasts three minutes and thirty five seconds, but that’s enough. Enough to put my mind in the right mood and enough to set my day up with possibility. I of course played the song over and over since I wanted to draw out as much serenity as possible :) I jogged along and felt content and… dare I say… happy. Sure my hair is falling out, it fell in the sink, it fell in my coffee, stuck to my sweatshirt, but I was happy. In that moment I felt right.

I think we need to take more time for ourselves, to do the things we enjoy and remind ourselves of living. It’s way to easy to obsess about our hair loss and worry about the future, but in doing so, we so frequently miss out on today, the beauty around us, the beauty within.

So now I know you are dying to know what song I was listening to. Well here it is for your listening pleasure (just click on the play button below) and your three minutes of freedom:

“Put Your Records On” By Corinne Bailey Rae – Best 0.99 cents I ever spent on iTunes!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Wishing you all a beautiful and HAPPY Friday!
Enjoy life, enjoy freedom, enjoy being you.

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The other day I posted the listing of certain birth control pills androgen index which I found on The American Hair Loss Association website. Later that day I received an email from Gracie pointing me to a great resource that provides more in depth knowledge about the hormonal components of various birth control pills. She also mentioned that in her own research she found out that most women seem to have more problems on lower estrogen pills, i.e. 20mg. I didn’t ask, but I think she meant mcgm (micrograms). Glancing over at the list I am about to provide you with, I found that the pill I took, Loestrin FE is among the lowest estrogen pills, listing at 20mcgm along with Aleese, Levlite, Micrette, and Ortho Evra patch. The pill I take now, Ortho-Tri Cyclen is 35/35/35 mcgm with a different type of Progestin (norgestimate) than the one used for Loestrin (norethindrone acetate).

The pills listed as likely to cause worse acne and hair growth side effects (obviously not hair on the head, but perhaps your chin) are those pills high in androgenicity and low in estrogen content.

Such pills might include:
Loestrin® 1.5/30
Loestrin® 1/20 Fe
Estrostep® Fe
Levlen®
Alesse®
Ovral®
Norlestrin® 1/50
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American Hair Loss Association Androgen Index List of Birth Control PillsI get a lot of emails regarding the specific androgen index of birth control pills. I haven’t found the full and complete definitive list available online, however, the American Hair Loss Association lists a small number of pills from lowest androgen index to highest. The list is as follows:

Desogen, Ortho-Cept, Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Micronor, Nor-Q D, Ovcon-35, Brevicon/Modicon, Ortho Norvum 7/7/7, Ortho Novum 10-11, Tri-Norinyl, Norinyl and Ortho 1/35, Demulen 1/35, Triphasil/Tri-Levien, Nordette, Lo/Ovral, Ovrette, Ovral, Loestrin1/20, Loestrin 1.5/30.

Of course very last you’ll see Loestrin listed has one of the highest androgen pills. It wasn’t until recently it all clicked, loestrin sounds like LOW ESTROGEN. That is the pill of doom that I took that started this whole hair loss process for me. I suppose it is all luck of the draw. Many women have probably taken that pill and never had the hair loss troubles I have been dealing with for the past 8 years. But there is no denying the hair loss birth control pill connection, messing with hormones can results in some unpleasant occurrences. Depending on the doctor, some will openly admit that hair loss can occur from taking the pill, others will dismiss it as merely coincidence. The packet insert of all the pills that I have seen clearly state it as a possible side effect. Women of all ages need to be aware of this before considering taking any pill, don’t expect to hear that little tid bit of information from the doctor prescribing it to you.

Low androgen birth control pills are also commonly prescribed with the anti androgen spironolactone as a treatment for women losing their hair.

I would love to find a complete listing of all birth control pills and their androgen index. If anyone knows of any please send me an email so I can post it on the site.

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Seasonique Birth Control Pill Commericals

by admin on November 19, 2007

Seasonique Birth Control Pill CommercialsLately I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials for the Seasonique birth control pill. The commercial advertises to young women that with this new pill you can have fewer periods, only 4 a year I believe. I just don’t know how that can be considered a good idea, that isn’t how we were made. Women were made to have periods. I am not necessarily trying to just single out Seasonique, but really all birth control pills commercials in general. Young girls watching these commercials are going to be lured by all the positive things they claim to provide… clearer skin, less bloat, less cramps, fewer periods, less moodiness. Who wouldn’t want to get on the pill? A lot of young and older women who get on the pill are going to experience hair loss, it is even listed as a side effect right in the pamphlet provided with the pill pack. Obviously everyone isn’t going to be affected, but I’ve heard countless stories, including my own, from women whose hair loss began by taking the pill, or getting off it. In my opinion it has ruined many women’s lives. The hair loss and the devastating effects it causes to us emotionally, last far longer than that commercial will air on TV. Thats the truth, but they don’t tell you that when you see the young girls smiling, jumping up and down on TV shouting to the world how wonderful being on the pill is. There really should be better education about the reality of birth control pills and hair loss. Since I doubt the pharmaceutical companies are going to add hair loss to their brief warning disclaimer at the the end of the commercials, the responsibility falls on the physicians who prescribe it. I’m not telling women not to take the pill, everyone is free to make their own decisions. For me, it was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life. I wish I had a do over for that one.

Incidentally I typed in “seasonique and hair loss” into Google, and wouldn’t you know it, there are women complaining it caused their hair to fall out. Women who choose to take the pill need to make sure that it is at least a androgen index pill.

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Stacey's Hair Loss Story - Searching For AnswersStacey had posted this story as comment on this post, but I felt it should be a post of it’s own so I’m reposting her story here:

Hi, I found this web site today. I came in tears when I read this. I have finally found people who are going through the same similar problems as I am in my life right now. I am a beginner on this Hair Loss Adventure. Let me tell you my Story and maybe since you all been through more doctor experience then I have. You might be able to give me some Advise and Tips. At least, I hope you will be willing to help. Ok, Here it goes. :)

I was diagnosed with PCOS in Nov.of 2005, As well with border line Diabetes. ( Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) I was 23 years old. I am now 25. Doctors don’t know much about PCOS. They are still doing research on it. I did some looking up on it. ( Let me tell you what it is for those who don’t know: It’s where you have tumors that grow in your ovaries and can block and prevent your eggs from going through your tubes to make you become pregnant. As well as your body produces too much androgen and Hormones and your body could produce too little Thyroid Hormone as well. Which can cause you to have many Symptoms such as ad normal periods, No periods, No pregnancy, Diabetes, Heart disease, Heart attacks, High blood pressure, Excess hair, Acne, Skin tags, Early Menopause, Cramps from your ovaries, unexplainable weight gain, trouble losing weight, and so on and so on. There’s so far No Cure, Some Doctors say losing 20 to 30 pounds to get rid of the belly fat that maybe causing PCOS Or taking birth controls to help control the symptoms. (Which means slow down the process.) People can’t catch this by people who have PCOS. Everybody with PCOS are different. So, You may not get all the above symptoms. Doctors told me that the only way is to control the symptoms is through birth control pills and if I wanted to try to become pregnant is to take Metformin, If I have trouble getting pregnant. At that time, My hair was starting to receive in the front and lightly shedding.

Now, I have very little bangs And my hair is thinning from my bangs all the way back on top. [click to continue…]

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A Bittersweet Light At The End Of The Tunnel? Anrea's Hair Loss StoryHi girls,

I wanted to write with regard to all the women on this forum, and specifically because of a recent post I read from Rosalinda. Her story sounds similar to mine, and I recently had an eye-opening dermatologist appointment that I haven’t had time to write about until now.

Let me start out with my hair loss story:

I first noticed my hair loss when I was 18 years old, 4 months after I started taking ortho-tricyclen lo. My hair had been coming out quite a bit in the shower but I didn’t think anything of it because I had incredibly thick hair. You know, hair so thick it makes the hairdressers cringe when they have to blow dry and style it because they know it will take like, an hour. I wish more than anything I could say the same about my hair today! One night as we were about to go out my boyfriend said he was a little concerned that he could see parts of my scalp through my hair, and asked whether it could be due to my pill. Well I became alarmed by my hair loss and began researching it extensively. I got bloodwork done at two different clinics with everything being normal, but I asked them to switch my pill anyway. I picked Yasmin because it is supposed to have anti-androgenic effects. That was 3 years ago. The hair loss never stopped, and my diffuse thinning kept progressing. I have probably lost 2/3 of the hair I used to have… when I put my hair in a ponytail it is barely the size of a sharpie marker. I have been hesitant to quit my pill altogether because I’m afraid I will go through the “dread shed” telogen effluvium and lose even MORE hair. I also get terrible cramps, heavy, long periods, and acne (my face is pristine when I’m on the pill though). However, I’m not really sure if it was my pill that caused it because I do distinctly remember mentioning in the past that my hair felt thinner and easier to manage than usual (this was when I was about 17, as I was getting ready for a homecoming dance). It is all so confusing and difficult to pinpoint. As trivial as most people think hair is, this has been the most traumatic and challenging experience of my life. Sometimes I have to stop myself and thank my lucky stars that I am healthy and I have a good life and my hair isn’t everything. But some days, hair really does feel like everything.

This month, I hit a major turning point. I had a scalp biopsy done by my dermatologist, expecting nothing to turn up. When I walked into his office 2 weeks later for the results I got a diagnosis I had never dreamed of or never researched. Scarring alopecia, due to Lichen planopilaris. My heart hit the floor. SCARRING… seemed so final, like the death sentence for my hair. My dermatologist seemed a little more optimistic though. He said it’s an infection of the scalp, no one knows how you acquire it, it’s just kind of a freak occurrence (why me??). My scalp hadn’t looked inflamed at all, but he said it showed mild inflammation under the skin when the biopsy was analyzed. Even weirder, lichen planopilaris normally presents itself as a patch of hair loss, rather than diffuse. I am still a little skeptical about my diagnosis, but I am following the protocol: antibiotic (minocycline) and topical steroid (olux foam). Together these are supposed to reduce the inflammation under my skin and help stop the hair loss. My derm also said I could try the Rogaine 5% once per day to try and revive some of my recently attacked follicles. He wasn’t sure if it would work though because I don’t have androgenic alopecia. We shall see. When I left the dermatologists office I just broke down and started bawling. Partly out of relief that I could possibly control the fate of the rest of my hair, and partly out of extreme frustration. I had been shouting from the mountaintops about my hair loss to every doctor that would ever listen, and none of them did anything until now. I shudder to think this could have been prevented.
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Losing My Hair... Am I Vain? Rosalinda's Hair Loss StoryHi, my name is Rosalinda and I have been losing my hair since I was 17 years old. I am now 22 years of age. I started out with a huge thick mane and now I can pin everything up with two bobby pins. Sad! I dread taking showers or brushing my hair. I close my eyes when I take my hair out of my brush. I’ve heard from doctors that stress can cause hair loss and I stress about my hair loss all day long. I went to see a movie this weekend and I spent half the time looking at Eva Mendes’s full head of hair. I feel vain for thinking about it so much, it’s driving me nuts. I am on Yasmin and have been on it since I was 19. My hair loss started before I began the pill and I have been assured by many doctors that Yasmin wouldn’t make my hair fall out. I don’t want to leave the pill because my cramps are so severe I can’t function when I have them. I have had blood work and I am “fine” thyroid and anemia wise.

I don’t even remember all the tests the doctors ran. The three doctors I have seen have attributed my hair loss to stress and genetics. The dermatologist recommended dandruff shampoo and rogaine. Rogaine helps keep my hair from falling out, I do notice a difference when I try to get off of it. I am currently using extra strength for men (dermatologist said to do so) but it makes my scalp very itchy and full of dandruff. Does anyone else experience this? So I have a choice…head full of dandruff or a head with some hair, *sigh*. I am going to see a doctor again on Wed. to do blood work again, since the tests I took before were two years ago. I am also thinking of buying the laser comb. It is pricey $395-$500. Yikes! I laugh to myself because I just paid $700 to do laser hair removal surgery on my legs. Ack!

I’m trying to rearrange all of my hair situations my body has. Too funny. I noticed that no one on the blog site really had anything to say about the laser comb. Perhaps I can be the guinea pig for all of you. Take pictures and what not. What do you all think? Should I do it?

-Rosalinda

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Dear Rosalina –

Thank you so much for writing and sharing your story. I know the exact movie you made reference to, “We Own The Night” because I did the same thing as you. I couldn’t watch anything else other than Eva Mendes hair during the entire film. I’ve had that problem for quite sometime now, I actually wrote about that in this post titled “Hair Loss Can Quickly Become An Obession

Are you Vain? I don’t think so. I think you react in a very normal way to a disturbingly uncontrollable situation. Reading your email was like reading my own thoughts on paper. Trust me when I say I know exactly what you are going through, you used the words “thick mane” to describe your hair. I would as well to describe my former tresses that have since been replaced by thin fluffs of wispy hair. I actually use to get my hair thinned out at the hair dresser! Can you believe that??? My heart weeps when I think about that.

Since your hair loss started 2 years prior to you getting on the pill surely it cannot be responsible for the onset of your hair loss. In my opinion a doctor cannot state definitively whether the pill will make your hair fall out or not. Do they have a crystal ball? Likely not, and since most educated physicians know the possibility of hair loss occurring from the treatment of any synthetic hormones, they shouldn’t state things as facts that they have no way of knowing in advance. It really bothers me when I hear things like that. [click to continue…]

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