birth control pills

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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Jeni’s Hair Loss Story

by Y 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 & 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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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 Y 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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