Hair loss

As one parent writes the group: "I'm dealing with postpartum hair loss. Someone mentioned being evaluated for hypothyroidism. Has anyone here tried treating postpartum hair loss this way? What doctor did you see? Did it help?" Here is advice from over the years.



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Check with your doctor:

“I suggest you get your thyroid checked. My hair did pretty much the same thing and after months of being tested for everything else, it turned out I am hypothyroid. It is super-common for levels to go a bit crazy after giving birth.
Hope your mane is soon back to its full glory!”


If you think it’s hypothyroidism, check for other symptoms:

“It is entirely normal to have quite a bit of postpartum hair loss. There is really not anything you can do to "treat" it because it is a normal physiological process - there is nothing to treat. That said, hair loss is *also* a symptom of hypothyroidism *and* it is not uncommon to develop hypothyroidism for the first time during pregnancy or postpartum and it often goes undiagnosed for quite a while. So, if your hair loss is accompanied by other symptoms of hypothyroidism (such as fatigue/sluggishness, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, cold hands/feet or coldness in general, depression/low mood, "foggy" cognition, hair loss specifically of the outer halves of your eyebrows in addition to general hair loss) then you might suspect hypothyroidism. Of course many of these symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from common postpartum issues, and some people have hypothyroidism without obvious symptoms so it can be challenging, but if you are in doubt or suspicious of a thyroid issue then just have your doc run a full thyroid panel. Do not let them simply test your TSH and T4, make sure they run a full panel (TSH, free T3, free T4, TPO antibodies, thyroglobulin antibodies, and reverse T3). I have worked with clients with postpartum hypothyroidism who have reversed these numbers with dietary changes as sometimes this can be caused by food sensitivities triggering an autoimmune reaction and the postpartum period is a sensitive time for this (these dietary changes can only reverse this if it is caught early before the thyroid is destroyed by the immune system). Anyway, just wanted to put all that out there because you asked about thyroid testing, but keep in mind: most likely you are just experiencing the totally normal and healthy postpartum hair loss and it will return!!”


Check your hormones:

"Hair loss is often a symptom of a loss or imbalance of hormones, which most traditional doctors don't think of as a serious problem. I would check into someone who does a full hormone panel blood test and can prescribe natural supplements (including bio-identical hormones.)  One place to start is Rachel Koenig, acupuncturist in the Slope.  If she thinks it's a good idea, she'll send you a wonderful woman in Baldwin, New York, Jeanette Breen, who can prescribe bio-identical hormones.  There are many other excellent nutritionists and naturopaths in Brooklyn and Manhattan who could check this out for you."

 “I went through this recently and I totally feel your pain. For me, it was hormone-related. I went off birth control and my hair started falling out in clumps. I expected it -- it's happened every time I've gone off hormonal birth control as well as after I gave birth to my daughter -- but it seemed worse this time, as well as more emotionally fraught.”


Check with a dermatologist:

“I don't know anything about hypothyroidism and postpartum hair loss, but I had what I thought was severe postpartum hair loss for several months after giving birth. It was really scary to lose so much hair, everyday. At 6 months postpartum I talked to my OBGYN and he recommended seeing a dermatologist. The dermatologist said it was completely normal and that it should end a year postpartum and if it didn't that I should come back. It ended a few months later. I found getting a haircut was helpful and also just made me feel like I wasn't losing so much hair.”

“You may want to see a dermatologist instead.  They can help with hair loss.”


Check with an endocrinologist who might be able to prescribe medication:

“I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism this summer following the birth of my second baby.  I didn't think I had bad symptoms - I mostly went to see an endocrinologist because I knew I had a family history and I started losing hair.  She put me on synthetic thyroid and suddenly I felt so much better in almost every way because my mood swings and fatigue, which I had attributed to my baby rather than thyroid issues, significantly decreased.”

“I have Hashimoto's too, and I've been on Levothyroxine/Synthroid for fifteen years. I'm not an advocate for medicating when it's not necessary, but I've found--and again, this is just me, personally--that the medicine in my case has been tremendously beneficial for my health, and therefore my quality of life. I'd suggest following your doctor's advice and seeing an endocrinologist, and then getting a second opinion. If it's recommended that you try medication, you can always try it for a few months and then go off if you're not comfortable with it or if you're not seeing results.”


Check vitamin levels:

“Try having your vitamin D level checked. The normal range is usually listed as 30-100, but optimal range is 70-100. If your level is below 70, supplement with a very high quality vitamin D and vitamin K2.  Take 1,000 iu vitamin D per 25 pounds of body weight (5,000 iu or more is usual), and check your level again in 2-3 months.  You may see improvement in hair loss much more quickly. Of course, a full work up, including magnesium level and cortisol levels would be helpful.  And good nutrition…”

“I've experienced a great deal of hair shedding issues over the past 5 years between Hashimoto's thyroiditis and two pregnancies, and even before the pregnancies I also dealt with D deficiency and low iron. If there's a reason to have your hair fall out, I've pretty much had to deal with it. Not counting the pregnancies, I'd say that taking D supplements (and we're talking 2000u a day to get me up to low-normal levels) as well as iron (both in a multivitamin AND as a separate supplement) helped tremendously. I don't know that I would ignore the low ferritin, but I'm not a doctor. Also, I'd been told that it takes up to 6 months for hair loss for these kinds of reasons to level out/start to regrow. (3 months to show all the trauma and for loss to peak, and then 3 more months to get back to level.)”


Check with a holistic practitioner, and think about changing your diet:

“I found that changing my diet really helped and I've seen re-growth. I eliminated sugar (that was the big one, it's in everything), gluten, dairy (except eggs and butter), organic meat only (no pork), caffeine, and alcohol (except vodka). Basically I only ate whole foods. And believe it or not, my hair started growing back after a couple months. I have times when I'm under heavy stress that it falls out again. I will say that I found the holistic doctors to be more helpful than the medical ones. But they are also much, much more expensive as they do not take insurance. I can certainly empathize with how hard it is to be a woman losing hair. I've had a few people gasp when my hair shifts and there is a bald patch. I inevitably break down into tears.  I try to remind myself that this is primarily a vanity issue but it's still hard.”

"I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I was diagnosed with hashimotos related hypothyroidism a few months ago, though I am asymptomatic and my t4 is still at the very lowest end of the normal range. My tsh is through the roof though, meaning my body is working extra hard to maintain normal levels. I am trying to avoid medication if at all possible and feel that my diagnosis is from years of sleep deprivation and poor stress management. I am seeing an endocrinologist for the first time on Monday so will see which camp they are in (pro/anti medication).  So far, my doctor is ok with me trying some nutritional stuff on my own and having my blood work checked every 3 months. I am doing A LOT of different food and Ayurvedic herb things everyday as well as getting regular acupuncture. I consulted with an amazing [My nutritionist] . I did just the food treatment for 6 months and my numbers didn't get any better. I've now been doing weekly acupuncture [and they] do something called nutritional response testing to find out if there are any blocks in my body that may be keeping me from absorbing what I need to be getting from my food. The weekly sessions are also so relaxing that they fall into the stress management category and I'm making an effort to keep things like that as a priority. To give you an idea of the food things I'm doing:
Brazil nuts
Small oily fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel
Sesame seeds or tahini
Lots of vegetable and minimal (high quality) meat
Nettle and tulsi tea
Goat milk yogurt and goat cheese
Minimizing/eliminating processed food
Black strap molasses
There's plenty more, all suggestions from [My nutritionist] . These foods all either boost the thyroid, settle the adrenals, balance your hormones and supplement things that may be low and affecting the functioning of these systems. I still don't know if it'll work but want to try it while I can. Kids can really deplete you and it's so hard to have regular time for ourselves. [My nutritionist] has urged me to think of "me" time as necessary self care and not a treat.”

 But note that diet might not be the cure-all fix: “Go get a second opinion. With Hashimoto's your Thyroid is under active. Gluten free is not going to fix this, and the medication (Synthroid or the generic) has no downside or side effects.”


Try acupuncture:

“I was diagnosed with PCOS several years ago, which is due to a hormonal imbalance. I knew something was wrong for years but it took numerous doctors and TONS of googling to be diagnosed - and only because I was the one who specifically requested the specific blood (simple!) test from a doctor. So google can be scary, but I am a huge believer in nobody cares about your body more than you and you can indeed be more capable (sometimes) to diagnose yourself! All that to say - the doctor suggested a daily medication which I did not want to do. I went to acupuncture. After not having my period for literally an entire year, I had my period after 4 weekly acupuncture treatments. I was skeptical to try acupuncture, but there was no denying that it was acupuncture that helped me."

"I encourage you to try acupuncture. I don't believe it would solve all ailments, but after my experience, I believe in it for anything related to endocrinology/hormones. An acupuncturist can also advise on diet, which could be useful too.”


It could be stress:

“I know really well what you're experiencing because I'm in the same boat. It did not happen with my first child, but with my second. It has been 2 years now and I'm still losing tons of hair ( fistful everyday!). I even had alopecia ( when you lose all your hair in one place, a bald spot). My doctor says it's fatigue ans stress, I have a 4 and 2yrs old, so resting is not an option! My hairdresser, says that hair age like the rest of the body and it's normal to have less hair. Also there's cycles of 7 years when the texture and quality differ. I might be in a bad cycle! Some pills and treatment exist, I've tried some and honestly didn't see any difference. The good news is that I still have hair, obviously not as much as before but somehow it's still growing!”


Try Rogaine, Biotin, or Toppik:

“I have a good friend (female) who has thinning hair. She is pretty sure it's a family trait as her mother had the same problem. She buys the generic version of Rogaine at Costco for a very reasonable price (much cheaper than the brand name at a chain pharmacy) and it does the job. I agree that it's a good idea to check it out with your doctor, especially since it may be symptomatic of some other problem. But just in case there's no medical solution, I hope this is helpful.”

“In addition, I use Toppik to fill in the bald spots (it's really great stuff! and I take biotin religiously so that the hair that grows back in will be thicker and stronger.”


It happens, and it gets better:

“I had the same thing with both my kids. I was evaluated for hypothyroidism but it was negative. My primary care doc just ran some tests. Turns out that some women experience this after childbirth and some don’t (or those that don’t perceive it occurring probably have a lot of “hair to spare”- someone told me that once.). My hair has always been fine so I really really noticed the hair loss. It came out in the shower in handfuls! Not fun to experience at a time when your body image is probably a bit low combined with sleep deprivation! Regardless, all I can say is that by the time my kids were about 4-5 months old, I had very little hair! I got a good hair cut and hoped for the best.
My kids are 3 & 6 now and my hair is all back in. It’s really the same as it was before I had kids, but it took a while to grow in...
So, while I have no magic bullet for you, I can say that it does get better!”


“Hi! I too recently went through a bout of mysterious hair loss. My youngest is three and a half. The hair loss started in early July, escalated through August, and continued alarmingly in September. Then it began to abate; I noticed I was losing fewer hairs in the shower. And now it's close to normal again. Over that period, I visited a regular MD who did blood tests and I think a thyroid test and suggested B vitamins, a dermatologist who looked to see if it was a scalp problem, and my gynecologist. I feel that this was caused by a switch in birth-control pills earlier in the year, and I've switched to a new brand, but I don't know exactly what caused it. I'm sorry I don't know what is causing this to happen to you, but I've learned that this can be a mysterious thing that comes and goes. It's so scary when it's happening--I remember counting hairs after a shower, reaching 100 and estimating there were still at least 100 more there--but that doesn't mean it'll continue forever! I'm happy to talk more! Hope this helps!”


Further resources:

"Suzanne Somers has written quite a number of books about this.  I've only read most of one so far, but there's lots of great information in them."


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