Can Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?

Losing more strands than normal? Your hormonal contraceptives could be the culprit. Here's what you need to know about birth control hair loss.

At one point or another, particularly during reproductive age, many people begin to notice a few extra strands of hair slinking down the drain after a shower. At first, you might not think much of it. But if you're consistently seeing lots of extra hair fall loose when you brush or wash your hair, it's understandable to become concerned.

There are multiple reasons for excess hair loss, including iron deficiency, which research shows is a common issue for people who menstruate. But birth control pills can also contribute to changes in your hair, including how much is falling out.

Losing fistfuls of hair might happen due to adjusting to the hormones in birth control pills. In fact, some people lose more hair while taking oral contraceptives, while others notice an uptick in hair falling out after coming off the pill. Here, we'll explain why birth control pills can contribute to hair loss, when to be concerned, and what to do about it.

The Link Between Birth Control and Hair Loss

Birth control pills can certainly cause a bit of extra hair loss, says Michele Green, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. To understand why, it's important to know how hair grows.

Essentially, hair, which is made of keratin, grows in phases and goes from growth to transitional to resting stages. During the resting phase (which can last a few months), the hair eventually falls out. This process happens in a cyclical fashion, with each hair moving through the stages before shedding and beginning to grow again.

Normally, there is always hair in each of these stages at any one time. But you typically won't notice a ton of them falling out at once because most of the surrounding hair is in the growth or transitional stages. However, changes in hormones (such as the estrogen and/or progesterone in birth control pills) can disrupt this cycle, leading to more hair falling out at once.

"The reason that hair can fall out as a result of taking birth control is that the hormonal oral contraceptive can encourage hair to remain in the telogen (or resting) phase for too long," Dr. Green says. "During the telogen phase, hair is shedding anywhere from 25 to 100 strands a day and is not actively growing, meaning that we're losing hair for an extended period of time. Sometimes, when women experience hair loss from birth control pills, the body just needs a chance to readjust hormones to regular levels."

Should I Worry About Excess Hair Loss?

Most of the time, birth control hair loss is both harmless and temporary—and it typically resolves on its own. In some cases though, especially if there's a family history of baldness, thinning hair can be concerning. Note, however, that it's very common for people who menstruate to experience some hair thinning as they age, particularly in the years when perimenopause nears and beyond. In fact, research shows that around 25% of women are affected by age 49.

In order to solve the problem, it's important to understand exactly what's going on so that your birth control method can be adjusted, if needed. Or other appropriate treatments can be used. So, if you are noticing extra hair loss, definitely consult with your doctor.

Causes of Birth Control Hair Loss

The first thing your doctor may want to know if you're experiencing birth control hair loss is whether you're losing hair while taking the pill or after you've stopped it. That's because these events point to two different issues. We'll take a look at both in greater detail below.

Hair Loss While On Birth Control

Losing hair after starting birth control is less common than losing a few extra strands after coming off the pill. Nevertheless, when this happens, it's likely because your prescription contains a progestin that has androgens (male hormones), says Dr. Green. The increase in androgen receptors in these pills can contribute to hair loss.

But here's where things get confusing: Some birth control formulations can actually be helpful for hair loss. "The estrogen they contain can suppress the ovaries' production of androgens and increase a protein called sex-hormone binding globulin in the blood. This protein binds free testosterone in the bloodstream, so less testosterone is available to cause hair loss," says Hadley King, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

So, if you've recently started taking oral contraceptives and you're losing more hair than normal, you may want to consider switching to a different type or brand. "Drospirenone is a progestin that has particularly high anti-androgen activity, which is why oral contraceptive pills with this progestin, including Yasmin and Yaz, tend to be particularly helpful for decreasing hair loss," Dr. King says.

Additionally, the American Hair Loss Association "recommends that all women interested in using oral contraceptives for the prevention of conception should only use low-androgen index birth control pills and if there is a strong predisposition for genetic hair loss in your family we recommend the use of another non-hormonal form of birth control."

An image of a hair brush.
Getty Images.

Hair Loss After Stopping Birth Control

The most common type of hair loss after birth control is called telogen effluvium. "This is a kind of hair loss that takes place after a person undergoes a stress to the body or mind, such as loss of a loved one, loss of a job, a high fever, a surgery, or an abrupt hormonal change—like after childbirth or stopping an oral contraceptive," says Dr. King. This causes hair to remain in the dormant phase longer than usual, which can lead to more hairs falling out at one time than normal.

For most people without other complicating factors like a family history of baldness or a weakened immune system, telogen effluvium isn't anything to be concerned about. Eventually, your hair will move out of this phase, and you'll start to notice a decrease in the number of strands you're losing to the shower drain each morning.

How to Treat Hair Loss from Birth Control

Even though hair loss from birth control usually isn't concerning, it can be stressful to see all those hairs in your brush or accumulating by the shower drain. You're probably wondering how to treat it, or at the very least, how to prevent it from getting worse.

The key is focusing on supportive care for your hair while it's stressed, says Dr. King, and that starts with paying attention to your body as a whole. Below, we've listed some hair-supporting actions you can take to ensure a quick return to a thick, full mane.

Take vitamins

Take a multivitamin to stave off the impact of possible vitamin or mineral deficiencies, which can make hair loss worse.

Eat a healthy diet

Eat lots of fresh, whole food, like vegetables and fruits. "A well-rounded diet with sufficient protein, calories, vitamins, and minerals, and no crash restrictive dieting is best for hair growth," says Dr. King.

Minimize stress

Aim to relax and reduce stress or worries. "Stress can trigger the end of anagen—or growth—phase," Dr. King reminds, "so developing stress management techniques can help stimulate hair growth."

Cut down on styling

Skip the blowdryer, straightening iron, and curling iron. Limit harsh heat, chemical styling, or other practices that can damage the hair.

Be gentle on your hair

"A hair care regimen that allows the protective layer, or cuticle, to remain intact for as long as possible will decrease breakage and drying out of the hair strands," says Dr. King. "So, keep your hair moisturized with hair conditioners, creams, and oils that help to avoid dryness and therefore decrease the risk of damage and breakage."

Products and Procedures to Support Hair Growth

If you're dealing with hair loss from birth control that hasn't yet resolved on its own, there are a variety of things you can try that may help. Always consult a doctor before trying any of these treatment options to ensure it's the best approach for your specific type of hair loss.

Ginseng Root

"Ginseng root is an ingredient to look for in hair products," Dr. King says. "Ginseng stimulates scalp microcirculation and helps to inhibit the production of DHT, the main hormone responsible for androgenetic hair loss." Dr. King recommends trying a product called Activating Serum from Collective Laboratories.


Minoxidil is a topical hair treatment that is used daily to help encourage hair follicles to enter the growing phase of the hair growth cycle. It's widely available in stores and online (look for Rogaine for Women) and can be applied as a foam. This treatment is simple and relatively inexpensive. However, it needs to be applied regularly for improvement to last.


Dr. Green recommends Nutrafol, an all-natural supplement, to assist with hair regrowth. It comes in pill form, just like vitamins, and as an oil that can be applied to your scalp. Ingredients like ashwagandha, marine collagen, and curcumin stimulate hair growth and promote whole-body wellness.


This hair growth serum is specifically designed for people who menstruate who are going through any type of hormonal hair loss, including from birth control. With biotin oil and Redensyl, daily use of Actsyl-3 is said to produce results in as little as 60 days.


Spironolactone is a drug that decreases hormone levels that contribute to hair loss. "Oral medications may be recommended depending on your medical history and the severity of your condition," says Dr. Green. Talk to your doctor to get their opinion on whether this could be a good option for you.

Platelet Rich Plasma

Dr. Green says platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy can be used to treat hair loss. "This minimally invasive cosmetic procedure utilizes growth factors and is designed to stimulate new hair growth while strengthening existing strands," Dr. Green says. The procedure involves producing a highly concentrated plasma with a sample of the patient's blood, which is injected directly into targeted areas of the scalp. The injected PRP stimulates hair follicles of the scalp to generate hair growth.

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