Pregnancy and Hair Loss

Approximately 90% of your hair is growing at any one time, while the other 10% enter a resting phase. Every two to three months the resting hair falls out and allows new hair to grow in its place. Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. This is not uncommon, affecting somewhere between 40 to 50% of women; but like most changes during pregnancy, it is temporary.

Is there abnormal hair loss during pregnancy?

Hair loss that is connected to pregnancy usually occurs after delivery. During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase, which is part of the normal hair loss cycle. This condition is not serious enough to cause bald spots or permanent hair loss, and should begin to diminish within 3-4 months after delivery. If you feel that you are experiencing unusual hair loss while you are pregnant, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Why do people talk about hair loss and pregnancy?

The most common period of hair loss occurs approximately three months after delivery. The rise in hormones during pregnancy keeps you from losing your hair. After delivery, the hormones return to normal levels, which allows the hair to fall out and return to the normal cycle. The normal hair loss that was delayed during pregnancy may fall out all at once.

Up to 60% of your hair that is in the growth state may enter into the telogen resting state. The hair loss usually peaks 3-4 months after delivery as your hair follicles rejuvenate themselves. As noted before, this hair loss is temporary and hair loss returns to normal within six to twelve months.

Can hair loss be related to other reproductive health issues?

Hair loss can be triggered by anything that involves a change in the estrogen hormone balance in your system. Hair loss may result from any one or more of the following:

The Positive Side of Pregnancy and Your Hair:

During pregnancy there is an increase in the level of estrogen hormones. Estrogen causes hair to remain in the growing phase and stimulates the growth of your hair. While you are pregnant, you should expect a full luxurious head of hair.

Recommendations for Your Hair During Pregnancy and After Delivery:

There are a number of things that you might do to have healthier hair and/or reduce hair loss during pregnancy and after delivery:

  • Consult with your health care provider to ensure a proper balance of hormones
  • Avoid pigtails, cornrows, hair weaves, braids and tight hair rollers which can pull and stress your hair
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may provide protection for the hair follicles and encourage hair growth
  • Use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica
  • Hair is fragile when it is wet, so be gentle; avoid fine tooth combs
  • If you need to use blow dryers and other heated hair instruments, try to use the cool setting
  • Supplement your diet with the following nutrients:

    • Vitamin B complex (Category A)
    • Biotin (Possibly safe; orally and appropriately)
    • Vitamin C (Category A)
    • Vitamin E (Likely safe if amount does not exceed the RDA; possibly safe if it does)
    • Zinc (Likely safe when used orally and appropriately; likely unsafe when used orally in high doses)
Last Updated: 03/2007

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Ch. 15.

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, http://www.aocd.org/index.html

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, http://www.naturaldatabase.com/

American Academy of Dermatology, http://www.aad.org