birth control pills

Jeni’s Hair Loss Story

by admin on October 14, 2007

Jeni runs a great blog on beauty and skincare called “Savvy Skin” and has contributed several comments on The Women’s Hair Loss Project. Now she is sharing her story. Here it is:

I’m 28, and I used to have really thick curly hair up until recently, and now I have probably half as much hair as before. I first started noticing that my part was really thinning back in September and I freaked out. After doing research, I first assumed that it was from the pill (ortho tri-cyclen) and I stopped taking it shortly after. I had been off and on it for over 10 years, but never really noticed any hair thinning before, or even the few times I went off it. I always lose a ton of hair (people always comment about my hair falling out all over the place), and I guess my hair has decreased over the years, but I never saw any baldness before Sept. My dad’s hair is thin on top, and my mom’s hair is thin now (but she has diabetes, is hypothyroid, takes a lot of medications, and eats terribly, so I don’t know if hers is AGA).

I first went to a dermatologist who said it could be AGA but couldn’t tell, and he just recommended Nizoral since he saw dandruff. Then I went to a general doctor who had no idea about anything, but she determined I was depressed, and suggested anti-depressants. I actually was really depressed (even before the hair loss), so I started taking anti-depressants, even though I was afraid it could make my hair worse. She claimed my hair loss was probably just because I was depressed and that it would grow back. I asked for all the various blood tests, and everything appeared normal. I started using Nioxin shampoo, Nizoral weekly, started taking a better multi-vitamin, attempted to eat better, including more iron and protein. For several months I‚ve also been taking Evening Primrose Oil, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Iron, & Flaxseed on my food.

Things not getting better, I saw Dermatologist Dr. Richard Strick at UCLA in Los Angeles because he supposedly specializes in hair loss. He looked at my scalp and said I definitely have TE (telogen effluvium) and that things should just get better eventually. He said I could use Rogaine to speed up the regrowth, or just wait it out. He seemed pretty sure of himself and didn’t suggest anything else. The cause of the TE remained elusive.

A few months had passed and it was time for a visit to the endocrinologist because now I was sure I had a low thyroid [click to continue…]

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Hair Loss From Nuva RingI have noticed thinning of my hair around the crown over the past couple of months. I think I understand some or all of the contributing factors, but now I don’t know what to do to try and stop it. I had been on OrthoEvra (the patch birth control) for a few months, stopped it because it was giving me horrible anxiety, went on the Nuva Ring for the past three months, and finally decided today that the anxiety has returned as well as headaches, sleeplessness, and now hair loss. I didn’t know until I read things on this site that stopping the birth control might result in the hair loss getting worse, but I really don’t think I can continue on it because of the emotional/mood swing effects it has on me. I’m 30, and have had one child
(5+ years ago). I wonder if I can wait out the next 6 mos. while the birth control leaves my system and my hormones return to normal. I wonder if I should try Rogaine NOW, before it gets any worse (it’s really minor, but it’s starting to be noticeable enough that I try to style my hair over the thinning area or pull it back). I wonder if I should go back on birth control but I really shouldn’t do that. I wonder if this is permanent. HELP!

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Hi, thanks for writing. I always say this at the beginning of my responses to emails so that there is no misunderstanding. I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice, this is just my thoughts and opinions.

I did some searches in Google for “Nuva Ring and hair loss” and there are several cases of women who are experiencing the same thing as you. Since it is birth control, it does alter your own hormones, and anything that does that can cause hair loss. But you should realize everyone responds differently to the effects of the pill. For some women going on the pill can cause hair loss, which seems to be your case, and for others the hair loss begins when they discontinue the use. It sounds like you already made the choice to get off the pill and are currently not taking it due to the many unpleasant side effects you were experiencing. In my opinion that was definitely a good decision.

I think it is too early to tell whether or not your hair loss will simply be a temporary shedding or the onset of androgenetic alopecia. It would probably be a good idea to consult a knowledgeable physician in this matter. Experienced doctors can tell whether or not the hair follicle is miniturizing which is usually an indication of female pattern baldness. But it is very possible this will just be a temporary shedding (telogen effluvium) similar to the hair loss many women experience after having a baby. As mentioned in my response to Sarah’s story, I actually met a woman who had hair loss from going on the pill, she stopped taking it an told me eventually all her hair grew back. It all depends on the individual. [click to continue…]

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Hair Loss At The Age Of 20 - Veronica's Hair Loss StoryWow, I’m so happy I just found this site…I’m 20 years old, have had been genetic hair loss for four years now. About 2 years ago I had a biopsy done and my derm told me it was probably genetic, he put me on Rogaine, Spiro and Yasmin. I was on those meds for about a year… and they did absolutely nothing. Last year in the fall my hair loss was getting really bad and I was getting so desperate for something, so I spent over $1000 on getting Invisible Hair extensions. I was assured by so many people that they would be safe, and definitely the perfect solution. The extensions were great! I loved having so much hair and planned on having the extensions put back in. Well when I got them removed for the first time I was SO devastated, more than half of my already thin hair was gone.

Its been since January now since I’ve had them out and I feel like I’ve hit the bottom. I’m in college and can’t concentrate on anything. I’m always way too focused on everyone else’s hair and I feel like I’ll never feel normal again…I haven’t been able to wear my hair down since I got the extensions taken out. My poor hair is
still falling out like crazy… it’s so thin I can’t even wear it in a ponytail, I feel like I will be bald soon.

I’m so scared, nobody seems to understand. My best friend and my family just tells me to cope with it like its no big deal. I feel like I have no where to turn. That’s why I was so glad I found this forum…I really sometimes feel like I’m the only one experiencing this and it’s comforting to hear everyone’s story. I’m not sure what to do with myself, I hate going out, even going to school because I just feel so ashamed…I don’t even know where to start looking for a wig around here (I’m from Portland, OR). And I feel like seeing another doctor would also be pointless. Anyways, Thanks a lot for listening to my story.

~Veronica

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Dear Veronica,

Thank you for writing and sharing your story, I’m so sorry you are having to go through this. It probably is of mild comfort, but know you definitely are not alone and there are A LOT of women who start to lose their hair at young age. Who knew? I definitely didn’t until I started going through it. Here comes my usual disclaimer I provide on every question I respond to. I am not a doctor and cannot provide medical advice or treatment, this is just my opinion. Ok…

After reading your story I have so many questions. Did your dermatologist put you on Rogaine, Spiro and Yasmin all at the same time? You said you are 20 and have been experiencing hair loss for 4 years, so you started losing your hair at 16 and saw your doctor at 18. Did he provide any explanation as to what might have trigged your hair loss at such a young age? You stated that after a year the medications did nothing, but you didn’t say whether or not you stayed on them or took yourself off. I’m curious because if you took yourself off after a year and the following year noticed a rapid decline in your hair, then perhaps the drugs were doing more than you thought. Sometimes all the drugs can do is slow the hair loss process down and help you maintain the hair you have,. Not all women experience a phenomenal regrowth after treatment. Even after I started treatment, I never regained the hair I had and was pretty convinced the treatments weren’t working so I eventually took myself off of aldactone around 2003… I think. The dates get fuzzy. Anyways, my hair loss increased dramatically. That could have just been from getting off the drug and it may have re-stablized eventually, but that scared me enough to get back on. Not only did I get back on aldactone, but when I got back on, I had my dose increased from 100mg to 200mg a day.

If you would have asked me then about my hair, I would have complained about the hair I once had and that it was so thin and continuing to fall out. But looking back it was doing fairly well after the 200mg increase. [click to continue…]

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Spironolactone – Hair Loss Story Question

by admin on October 6, 2007

Spironolactone - Hair Loss Story & QuestionHi! First of all I want to say that this is a GREAT forum/blog and I give you a lot of credit for starting it, sharing your stories, and wanting to help others. THANK YOU, and I really appreciate all you’ve done and gone through. Stay strong, continue helping others and you will get through this!

I want to ask you about your thoughts on Spirinolactone, but should provide you some context first. I am 28 years old and started losing my hair around August of 2006. I was under a lot of stress with my job and not taking very good care of myself nutritionally either. So, I started with a family physician and had blood work done. Everything came back fine. She recommended I take a daily multivitamin. She also recommended me to a dermatologist. I finally saw a derm in January of 2007 (it takes FOREVER to get in) and they did some additional blood work and told me to start taking biotin as well as the daily multivitamin. Again everything was “normal” and that was it. In March of 2007 my excessive shedding stopped and my hair felt better again. So I thought the vitamins and biotin were helping and
thought stress had a lot to do with it, too.

THEN, in August of 2007 I started losing a lot of my hair again and am continuing to shed excessively. This time around the hair loss is more noticeable and my scalp is much more noticeable than the first episode. I did just move to a new state, change jobs, sell our house, etc., etc. I thought maybe it was stress again but knew I needed to see a derm to be sure. I live in Winston-Salem, NC and they have an excellent dermatology practice at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Medical Center. They have doctors that specialize in female hair loss!! So, I finally went early this week (after getting an earlier appointment because of a cancellation). I saw 2 doctors that were fantastic. They spent a lot of time talking through everything and came to the conclusion that it’s likely androgenic alopecia. BUT, they had me take every blood test possible in case it’s related to low iron, thyroid, etc. I’m still awaiting those test results. They also think some stress could be involved, but when they performed the hair pull test on me it was positive in some areas and not in others, likely female pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia). I am supposed to start using Rogaine for men and they will prescribe Spirinolactone if all of my blood work comes back “normal.”

So, do you know much about this drug? Does anyone else on the site know? [click to continue…]

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Hair Loss At 20 Years Old, Sarah’s Story

by admin on October 4, 2007

At the age of 20 years old, I decided to go on birth control, so my doctor prescribed me to “Symphasic”. About 3 or 4 months later, I realized that my hair was thinning, I left it for about 6 months.. and then I went to my doctor, and she switched me to a different birth control – Yasmin. I thought it would be the answer, and I would be cured… but I was FOR SURE wrong. The hair loss got worse. Every month I lost a little more. It wasn’t until this past June that I decided to give up birth control all together and hope for the best. My hair loss began to stop a little, until around the middle of September, and that is when it started shedding more, and it continues to October, which is now. I keep hearing that it takes up to 6 months or more for birth control to get out of your system, and I HOPE that I will then grow my hair back, but what these women on the this site have to say is no hope.Does this sound exactly what you women have gone through? I am starting to get scared. I have had blood tests- and apparently there is nothing wrong with me. Should I be hoping that going off birth control was the best thing, and I will grow my hair back? I am so stressed about it, and like other women say… it takes up about 98% of my thoughts every day! I am crazy self conscious and i cant stand it any longer. if you could please write any comments or suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated!Thanks so much
Sarah

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Hi Sarah,

I read your story and I instantly was taken back to 8 years ago since your hair loss began around the same age mine did. I have to point out that I’m not a doctor, but here is my opinion on your situation. Honestly Sarah, I think you have a really really good chance of recovering from this completely, I’ll tell you why. The duration of time you were on the pill wasn’t very long, and also Yasmin is suppose to be a low androgen index birth control pill so I don’t think the damage it would cause would be as severe as say the pill I took, which was Loestrin FE, the highest (or at least was the highest) androgen index pill. I’m not sure about the Synphasic birth control pill because I’ve never heard of it, I tried to Google it and didn’t find much on it, however, on the upside I didn’t find anything good or bad on Synphasic, which I think is a good sign. When you type in the pill name I took “Loestrin” and “androgen index” or “high androgen” you’ll find TONS of stuff that point to women having hair loss problems, a lot of sites explaining it is a high androgen pill etc etc. I don’t even know why they prescribe it to women and I certainly don’t know why they had prescribed it me at 20 years old. I didn’t find anything like that about Synphasic, that’s not to say that the pill wasn’t bad for you, obviously it was, you had hair loss from it, but at least there isn’t an overwhelming about of negative stuff on it. I think that’s a good sign. [click to continue…]

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Will I Ever Have The Strength To Shave My Head?I talk so much more now about shaving my head with my fiance, he is all for it. If you are wondering why I would want to do that, please read my hair loss story. I cannot treat it anymore, my medications have stopped working, but yet I still am a prisoner to them. I fear if I remove myself from them I will experience greater shedding from a hormone shift. Shaving my head would free me. It would allow me to get off my medication now and not have to “see” the shedding. It is the shedding that tears me up inside, a constant reminder that very soon I’ll just have thin patches of hair around my head.

Talking isn’t doing, but that fact I am talking about shaving my head is really healthy. I am getting more comfortable with the idea each time I really try to envision it. I’m starting to believe that I will eventually be able to make that choice. Thinking about it makes me sigh a breath of relief… I’d be able to finally get off the aldactone and orthotricyclen I’ve been using to treat my hair loss. In my post titled “Regretting Past Decisions on My Hair Loss” I relay my regret about ever getting back on the pill to treat my hair loss, knowing it was the very cause of it. I didn’t really think it through. I didn’t realize that even if it worked I would have to be on it forever to maintain the hair that it saved. But what about children? I haven’t had kids and have felt that that option has been ripped away from me. How can I have kids on the pill? I can’t. But how can I get off knowing that I could have even more increased shedding that would depress me so much I couldn’t get out of bed. How would I be able to be a mother then? I wouldn’t. Not to mention who knows the damage of taking birth control pills and aldactone, an antiandrogen which is essentially a blood pressure pill, long term? I don’t have high blood pressure yet I agreed to take Aldactone for it’s antiandrogen properties, I didn’t think it all through.

I suppose my feelings would be all different if the treatments continued to work warding off impending hair loss, but it isn’t. Not after 8 years it isn’t. It did help me before (I think) although I never will really know what would have happened if I just decided to let be what would be 8 years ago. Would my hair loss have stopped on it’s own? Would my hormones or whatever was causing the extreme loss after getting off the pill rectify by itself? Maybe. Maybe not.

Part of healing will be accepting the decisions I made. Accepting myself. Once I’ve done that, I think I’ll be ready to shave my head and start living again. I look forward to that day.

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Julie’s Story

by admin on September 12, 2007

Julie has left some incredibly wonderful, helpful, heartfelt comments on this blog and now she is sharing her story. Here it is:

For 10 long and arduous years, I’ve suffered from female pattern baldness. At 17, the pain of looking at myself in the mirror caused major depression and my health continued on a downward spiral. My gynecologist prescribed some birth control to regulate my periods and my acne, but the condition worsened. Soon, I was also put on anti-depressants, because I got depressed from the acne and hair loss…then, I couldn’t sleep at night because of the medication that I had to take for my hair loss and acne, and the depression because of my hair loss and acne! Phew! breath…so you see! After 10 years of tests and the determination I had in figuring out my problem, I figured the problem was bad practice of medicine. Well, 10 years ago is different and 10 years from now, answers will be different.

Working in retail with spotlights gleaming on my shiny scalp resulted in stares and inspections from nosy customers. No one understood the shock and devastation of losing clumps of hair. [click to continue…]

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SynthroidAs many of you already know from reading my story, I am currently taking the medication synthroid for low thyroid. Recently I’ve been seriously looking towards that as being the cause of my excessive hair loss, and what seems like an endless hair shedding that has been going on for years non stop. Let me first clarify that I know for a fact that isn’t what initially started my hair loss. What started my hair loss was from stopping high androgen index birth control pills, however, I think that synthroid may be exacerbating the situation.

When I first started losing my hair approximately 8 years ago I would notice that my hair shredding would sort of go in cycles, there would be 4 months of a crazy shed and the next 4 months it would seem to slow down tremendously. That break in shedding would would allow for some hair to grow back. But, as of the last couple years I’ve been shedding non stop with a recent tremendous increase this year. My thyroid medication dose has been raised this year and last year as well. I don’t know if that is just a coincidence or it that level is too much for my hair.

I came stumbled across a website today where people were sharing their experiences with hair loss and Synthroid. The stories were very mixed, similar to what you will find in any forum, which is precisely what my gripe was yesterday when I was talking about my issue with hair loss forums. But, I still find myself scanning various internet sites in hopes to find something… anything that may help me. I do think that certainly enough people complain that they believe it is the cause of their hair loss, that I should start looking into another medication to treat my hypothyroidism.

It is always scary switching any medication when you are suffering with hair loss, at least it is for me. I want to try and find a local thyroid doctor who believes in treating his/her patients with a natural thyroid.

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As I write this I can barely see the screen becaue I am flooded with saddness. I rarely surf the internet anymore for help with women’s hair loss because I found that whatever I would find would only made me feel worse about myself, since I always ended up in the same place I started, only more confused. I don’t know what possessed me today to start poking around some old forums I used to visit frequently… I wish I hadn’t. I remember why I stopped going. I found a story of a woman who made the decision to stop taking her birth control pills and just ride out whatever shedding would ensue, and she said after two years her hair came back. (If you are confused about what I’m talking about read my hair loss story here) I always regretted getting back on the pill as part of my hair loss treatment, I always wondered if I left everything alone 8 years ago I would be back to normal today. I am so trapped, I can’t make that decision because I don’t have enough hair to withstand the enormous shedding that could happen from stopping taking a pill, I’m already shedding so much. [click to continue…]

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women's hair loss, - what's in the waterMy mom made a comment to me earlier today that it seems that nowadays everywhere she looks she sees people losing their hair. She says it’s much more prevalent nowadays than when she was growing up. Well, I have a different take on that. First, let me go off on a tangent and say that my mom is also experiencing hair loss, hers started after menopause. I only wish I was that lucky to have made it past 50. I would seal that deal today if you told me I could enjoy the next twenty one years of my life with a full head of hair and then at the stroke of midnight on my 50th birthday all my hair would fall out. I realize it’s devastating at any age, whether you are in your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and beyond, but I feel its harder when you are in what is suppose to be the “prime of your life” and instead you spend your days locked away in your house because you feel ashamed of how you look.

Anyways, back to what I started to talk about regarding my mom’s beliefs that nowadays hair loss is more prevalent in women than back in “her time” as she puts it. I think that is partially true. [click to continue…]

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