As men, we attract a lot of our self-imagine to our hair. It’s frustrating getting a bad haircut, waiting for it to grow, watching it fall out, or not growing at all. Our beard, head, and body hair all have a strong relationship with our hormones and genes. Plenty of internal changes can turn a head full of hair to a loss of follicles, so it’s essential to learn the link between them.
The Sex Hormones and Hair Growth
Testosterone regulates hair growth by affecting the follicles and producing different types of hair, like in the public, facial, and scalp regions. Follicles will change and affect the growth phase of hair and can take as long as 7 years to complete. What’s interesting about testosterone is that it can increase hair growth in one area while inhibiting it in others.
There are two types of hair follicles in our bodies: Terminal and Vellus. Vellus hair follicles exist as they are and produce colorless hair throughout the body. Terminal adds color and thickness using androgens (testosterone and androstenedione), which is added during puberty. As we age, terminal follicles can turn into Vellus follicles and create bald patches throughout the body.
A testosterone booster with estrogen blocker can help stimulate hair growth in some areas, but neglecting estrogen entirely could also lead to hair loss.
Both sex hormones play a significant role in hair production, and estrogen can determine the hair follicle’s growth. Estrogen increases the amount of time hair spends in the growing phase. When this sex hormone declines, hair loses these protective effects and could start to fall out. Without the hairs’ ability to thrive, it’s unlikely those follicles will come back in the future.
While testosterone’s metabolite dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the main culprit of genetic hair loss, there’s a distinct link to hair loss progression and low estrogen levels. To keep your hair happy and healthy, you must walk the fine line of keeping testosterone levels high while not hammering down too hard on the estrogen. Both need balance for a healthy lifestyle.
The prolonged release of stress hormones is terrible for your overall health, including, but not limited to, your hair length and texture. Stress makes your hair fall out because it puts your body into survival mode. While your body is in a “Fight or Flight” response, your hormones will divert resources away from skin health, sleep, digestion, and growth into your muscles and reflexes.
Cortisol targets and damages hair follicles, but most hair loss from stress will grow back healthy as long as you stay calm – literally. Incorporate stress-reduction strategies in your life, like yoga and exercise, to reduce your cortisol levels.
We often underestimate the importance of the thyroid. Thyroid hormones regulate most of our body’s processes, including our metabolism, but hypothyroidism doesn’t show itself in our waistline first. Your skin and hair will become dull, brittle, dry, and thin if your thyroid hormones aren’t at normal levels. Many Americans have to take medication to fix this problem.
Along with diminishing locks, your thyroid hormones will also affect your mood and energy levels. Hypothyroidism often leads to depression, fatigue, constipation, sleeping problems, anxiety, and irritability. As a positive, hypothyroidism is easily treatable. Once thyroid hormones become stable, your hair will grow back.
Ferritin (Blood Protein)
While ferritin isn’t necessarily a hormone, it does screen your body for possible hormonal issues related to iron. Iron-deficiency anemia does affect your hair growth and can lead to hair loss if it progresses because hair follicles hang to ferritin for support. When iron is low, the body will pull ferritin from hair follicles for red blood cell production and other essential functions.
Similar to stress and thyroid complications, your hair will grow back once iron-deficiency is treated through supplementation. Before supplementing, take a blood test to ensure anemia is the issue, or you could stress your system.