Can Birth Control Cause Hair Loss? Get Answers From Experts In [AU] 2023

Aura De Los Santos

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

can birth control cause hair loss
A woman concerned about hair loss.

Birth control is one of the most common methods of preventing pregnancy. Like any medication, it has side effects. It is common for women to wonder if birth control can cause hair loss, as several have expressed that this has been one of the adverse effects of taking them.

The type of hormones in birth control can influence hair loss. Several types of progestins are associated with alopecia, so it is important to know each individual’s medical history.

This article aims to explain whether birth control causes hair loss and, if so, what effective treatments are.

Does Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, birth control can cause hair loss due to hormonal factors. Genetics may also influence hair loss. The impact of some birth control methods on the hormones of those taking them can lead to weaker hair and easier hair loss. Genetic hair loss sufferers may experience volume loss and thinning hair due to over-sensitivity to the components of some contraceptives.

How Does Birth Control Work?

Birth control works by preventing fertilization by one of several methods.[1]

  • It can prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.
  • It may inactivate or destroy the sperm.
  • Birth control may alter the lining of the uterus so the egg cannot attach to the uterus.
  • It may thicken cervical mucus so the sperm cannot pass through it.

Hormonal birth control methods prevent the formation of the ovum. Implants for birth control may be placed in the arms, releasing progestin, which prevents ovulation and changes the cervical mucus, making it harder for the sperm to reach the egg. The IUD is a device that goes into the uterus and releases hormones that prevent the egg’s implantation into the uterus. The male and female condom is a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. 

How Birth Control Affects Your Hair

Birth control affects hair differently, impacting its thickness, texture, and growth.  Some women may experience thinner[2] and fragile hair due to the type of contraceptive they take.

Birth control pills may have two active hormones, estrogen and progestin. Progestin is a synthetic progesterone[3] that prevents ovulation and thickens cervical mucus. Progesterone[4] is a hormone that blocks the masculinizing hormone responsible for hair loss: dihydrotestosterone controls your period and prepares your body for pregnancy.

There are many associated causes[5] of hair loss connected with using birth control, such as genetics, environment, inflammation, and hormones. Birth control may contain progesterone and estrogen, estrogen-only, or progestin. Therefore, it may influence hair loss. But, like with any medication, there may be side effects. Hair loss can be a side effect in those who use hormonal contraceptives, but very few studies exist. 

It is known that estrogen promotes hair growth,[6] so hormonal birth control with only estrogen in it will not cause hair loss. Estrogen extends the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, thus preventing female pattern hair loss, so typical after menopause when estrogen levels fall.

However, some data has linked progestins with androgenic alopecia.[6] One case study involved a woman with hair loss and an IUD with levonorgestrel (a type of progestin); when the IUD was removed, hair started growing again, suggesting an association. In a study of 15,000 Finnish women with this IUD implanted, 15.7% reported hair loss. Few studies have evaluated the antiandrogenic progestin birth control pill unavailable in the U.S. for hair loss side effects.

Estrogen and progesterone combined birth control pill therapy has also been associated with unusual hair growth patterns,[7] including hair loss.

Other Side Effects Of Birth Control

Birth control side effects are present like in any medication. Some are milder, and others stronger. Depending on the type of contraceptive used, birth control methods affect those who use them differently, i.e., as a sponge, IUD, or pill.

Regarding hormonal contraceptives, one of the most common adverse effects[8] of combined oral contraceptives is breakthrough bleeding. This means that women experience bleeding on the days they take inactive pills. Other effects include nausea, breast tenderness, abdominal cramps, and headaches.

Irregular bleeding[9] is often one of the most common effects of those using birth control injections. Decreased libido is also another symptom because progesterone suppresses the effects of estrogen. Weight gain and headaches may also occur.

Intrauterine device users may experience abnormal uterine bleeding as one of the main adverse effects. The uterus can also suffer perforations,[10] but studies show that this effect is rare. Those who use barrier methods, such as condoms, may experience irritation or allergic reactions.[11] This is because of the type of material used in condoms or any lubricant used during intercourse.

How To Stop Hair Loss From Birth Control

When hair loss occurs due to birth control, it is essential to identify its components. Birth control contains hormones that produce changes in the body, affecting it both negatively and positively.

It is important for people suffering from hair loss to be aware of the type of hormonal problem they are dealing with in their contraceptive method. Progestin may be present in birth control, and some synthetically produced ones can cause greater hair loss.[2] The most common ones are levonorgestrel and tibolone.

When the influence of birth control is identified, one action to take to stop hair loss is to change the method. If hair loss occurs when you stop taking the birth control pill, it is likely because of decreased estrogen. Estrogens are present in many birth control pills, which is one reason why many women report experiencing shinier, fuller hair and better skin when using them.

At first, hair loss is normal if you stop taking birth control pills containing estrogen, which is no cause for alarm. This is a temporary problem, which usually resolves when hormone levels[12] return to balance.

Tips To Make Hair Grow Faster 

There are many ways to help hair grow faster, but it is essential to understand how this process works. Understanding the hair growth cycle may help understand the process.

The anagen phase is the phase of hair growth; 85% of hair is in this phase. This phase varies depending on where your hair is located. The anagen phase on head hair is longer as it takes longer to grow out of this stage. 

In the catagen phase, the hair follicle rests and has no growth. In the telogen phase, the hair falls out, lasting about three months, and about 10% of your hair is in this phase. Knowing the hair growth cycle can help you understand what stages your hair is in and identify if a problem goes beyond its phases. 

Some hair treatments to stimulate hair growth tips are:

Eat A Healthy Diet

Hair is cared for from the outside and the inside. A balanced and healthy diet[13] can help hair grow faster and healthier. Eating foods containing protein, vitamins A, C, E, and B complex, iron, and zinc are beneficial. Some foods to include in the diet are meats, fish, eggs, carrots, oranges, lemons, tomatoes, almonds, cereals, salmon, nuts, beans, and seafood.

There are times when people, due to certain allergies or some foods that are not to their liking, do not consume them, so choosing supplements to boost your intake is an option.

Protect Your Hair From Damage By Heat Tools Or Certain Types Of Hairstyles

Constant use of heat tools such as straighteners, blowers, and curling irons can negatively affect the hair causing hair thinning. Hair exposed to heat without protection and care can break, making growing difficult. When using any heat tool, the hair should be prepared. Use heat protectors and reduce the use of heat tools. 

Try to use hairstyles that are not too tight, which can cause the hair to break more easily. Use hair bands that are not too thin, and don’t always wear your hair similarly or risk your hair thinning out.

Reduce chemical processes such as dyeing or straightening, contributing to hair thinning. Doing these processes constantly mistreats the hair and can cause breakage.

Invest In Products According To Your Hair´s Needs

Hair care is essential for healthy hair growth. Identify your hair’s needs and purchase the necessary products. If your hair needs moisture, focus on that problem. If your hair is weak and breaks easily, use products with protein to help strengthen it.

Sometimes people think their hair doesn’t grow like it used to, which is untrue. Hair grows at the same rate, but the changes will not be noticeable if you don’t take care of it.

Final Thought

The presence of some types of progestogens in birth control can cause hair loss. Contraceptives, genetic predisposition, and other factors cause hair loss. When considering birth control pills, you must express your concerns to your doctor and have a medical history taken to know which one is right for you.

Treating hair loss resulting from using or disusing contraceptives is only part of the process. To prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth, lifestyle changes such as improving your diet, protecting your hair from heat tools, and caring for your hair with products according to your needs must be done. If hair loss continues despite your best efforts, consult a dermatologist for expert advice. 


+ 13 sources

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  1. Mayo Clinic. (2022). Birth control options: Things to consider. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/birth-control/in-depth/birth-control-options/art-20045571
  2. Graves, K.Y., Smith, B. and Nuccio, B.C. (2018). Alopecia due to high androgen index contraceptives. [online] 31(8), pp.20–24. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/01.jaa.0000541476.24116.c4.
  3. Clinic, C. (2023). Progestin: Birth Control, How It Works & Side Effects – Cleveland Clinic. [online] Cleveland Clinic. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/24838-progestin
  4. Grymowicz, M., Rudnicka, E., Agnieszka Podfigurna, Napierała, P., Smolarczyk, R., Katarzyna Smolarczyk and Blazej Meczekalski (2020). Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles. [online] 21(15), pp.5342–5342. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21155342.
  5. Yasmeen Jabeen Bhat, Saqib, N.U., Latif, I. and Hassan, I. (2020). Female pattern hair loss—An update. [online] 11(4), pp.493–493. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/idoj.idoj_334_19.
  6. Desai, K., Almeida, B. and Mariya Miteva (2021). Understanding Hormonal Therapies: Overview for the Dermatologist Focused on Hair. [online] 237(5), pp.786–791. doi:https://doi.org/10.1159/000512888.
  7. Medlineplus.gov. (2015). Estrogen and Progestin (Oral Contraceptives): MedlinePlus Drug Information. [online] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601050.html
  8. Mayoclinic.org. (2023). Estrogen And Progestin Oral Contraceptives (Oral Route) Side Effects – Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/estrogen-and-progestin-oral-contraceptives-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20069422
  9. Millán, M. and Castañeda, S. (2015). Sex Hormones and Related Compounds, Including Hormonal Contraceptives. [online] doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.seda.2015.06.014.
  10. Xu, X., Ruan, X. and Rabe, T. (2021). Intrauterine contraception and menstrual bleeding. [online] 5(2), pp.66–69. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.glohj.2021.05.002.
  11. Marfatia, Y.S., Pandya, I. and Mehta, K. (2015). Condoms: Past, present, and future. Indian journal of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, [online] 36(2), pp.133–9. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7184.167135.
  12. Contently Integration (2023). What Is ‘Post-Birth-Control Syndrome’? [online] UPMC HealthBeat. Available at: https://share.upmc.com/2023/01/post-birth-control-syndrome/#:~:text=Treatments%20for%20Post%2DBirth%2DControl,back%20on%20hormonal%20birth%20control.
  13. Rajput, R.J. (2022). Influence of nutrition, food supplements and lifestyle in hair disorders. [online] 13(6), pp.721–721. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/idoj.idoj_175_22.
Aura De Los Santos

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Aura De Los Santos is a Clinical Psychologist and Educational Psychologist with more than nine years of experience in the mental health and educational field. She has experience working with clients that are looking for solutions to situations that affect their mental health like anxiety, stress, and depression. She also has experience working as a content writer. She writes articles and creates materials for workshops about mental health, education, and personal development.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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