What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 April 2020
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In many instances, postpartum hair loss is a normal symptom of the postpartum period, and is directly related to a reduction of the more active growth phase of hair follicles during pregnancy. Women may start to notice more than expected shedding of hair within a few weeks after giving birth, and hair loss tends to revert to more natural patterns a few months later. There may be other reasons why excess hair loss occurs, and if hair truly seems to be thinning or severely shedding, a visit to a physician is recommended to determine the underlying cause.

The principal cause of postpartum hair loss is the end of pregnancy. Hair has both growth and rest periods, and during pregnancy, more hair follicles grow than are usual. In addition to noticing postpartum hair loss, many women notice that during their pregnancy hair grows more quickly and appears to be thicker. There is generally less hair loss than normal at this time. As pregnancy hormones decline, balance is reestablished and more hair follicles return to a resting state, resulting in a brief period of greater hair loss. It can seem like a lot, particularly when washing, combing or brushing the hair.

Most often, even with increased postpartum hair loss, hair won’t appear to be thinning and there shouldn’t be noticeable patches of missing hair. These are suggestive of other problems, and a few causes of seriously increased hair loss are most common in the postpartum period. One thing that may cause hair loss is severe malnutrition, which might result from crash diets to lose pregnancy weight, inattention to eating while caring for a newborn, or simply lacking enough calories and nutrients to support activities like breastfeeding. Doctors will want to rule out malnutrition when they’re asked to diagnose hair loss causes.

After pregnancy, some women are more likely to have trouble with the function of the thyroid gland, and an overactive gland, or sometimes an underactive one can cause loss of hair. There are other issues that may emerge in the postpartum period, coincidentally. Female pattern baldness could begin and trichotillomania, which can cause people to pull out their own hair, might develop. None of these conditions are really postpartum hair loss causes because they can occur at any time.

Especially with postpartum hair loss and a return to slightly thinner hair, women may feel a little cosmetically challenged. The rapid shed period doesn’t mean look of hair will change dramatically, but postpartum hair is not as lustrous or thick as pregnancy hair. A new haircut that builds texture into the hair can address any thinness. Many new moms also enjoy getting a haircut that is fashionable but easy to style because this gives them more time to spend with their babies.


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