Be Hair-raising - Dealing With Hair Loss via PCOS

Hair loss is no joke. Whether hormone or hereditary, it doesn't matter how it creeps up on you, it's something which can severely affect your confidence. We spend so much time using hair as part of our identity, whether through cuts, colours or styling, and to have that changed with seemingly little control can really shake you up. As someone with PCOS, the symptom I find most difficult to deal with is hair loss from the front. I'm lucky that the placement doesn't make it too obvious because I can style my hair to cover it, but I know the two small patches are there, and fear for them growing every time I wash or brush it. But what can you do? Well, I've found a few things which help...

Hair loss from PCOS is caused by something called hyperandrogenism which is where the body produces too many male hormones. There is also a genetic element to it as well, with those who have follicle sensitivity in the family being hit much harder. Some have had success with products containing anti-adrogens such as Dianette or other oral contraceptives, but it's not a given that it'll work. For me I found that it solved over PCOS related issues, but it never really made my hair bounce back.

I tried some minoxidil based products to see if they'd help stimulate my scalp, and the only real difference I noticed was how much deeper I was getting into my overdraft thanks to the expensive costs. Someone else recommended that I try a hair growth shampoo and conditioner combo such as the Watermans brand, and I found that this genuinely helped. The bottles are huge, and despite the initial outlay, I probably ended up spending less than I usually would on my usual, smaller go to brand. The Watermans conditioner also left my hair shinier than any other conditioner I've ever used!

Over the years, I've made a lot of changes to how I treat my hair. I very rarely use dry shampoo unless it's for styling / texture purposes as it can cause hair loss by blocking the follicles. I also don't use heat on my hair, opting instead for wet set curls. It's amazing the flexibility you can have depending on what size and style roller you use, and what way you roll your hair onto the roller, and my three go to products are Curlettes Curlers for tighter curls, Boots Medium and Large Foam Cushion Rollers for classic waves and Sleep In Rollers for huge, blow out style bombshell hair. I tend to prep my hair the day before I need it to look good, and either sleep in the rollers overnight with a silk headscarf, or brush them out and repin into large pin curls to keep the shape and tame the frizz.

Soft 70s waves with my crochet Curlettes Curlers.

Sleep In Rollers for Volume

Forever hiding my foam rollers underneath a headscarf!
The other issue I have is that I like to colour my hair. However the idea of putting bleach anywhere near my roots terrifies me, so over the last few years I've gone for a balayage option where I've lightened the ends and then opted for ammonia / bleach free semi-permanent colours which coat and condition more than they harm. This has meant that the worst thing my scalp has to deal with is a barrage of bobby pins, which I honestly think has made a lot of difference.

My iron levels are always ludicrously low which is another hair loss high risk factor, and despite constantly stuffing my face with spinach, my body just can't seem to retain it. Whenever I remember I try to top it up with vitamin supplements, but I've given up reading articles about it on the internet because what I'm told isn't very helpful to a vegetarian lifestyle (in short it's mean good, soy bad!)

Nutrition is a key part in having a healthy scalp and whilst sometimes I'm left feeling hopeless by my doctor (according to her my PCOS would be managed so much better if I wasn't overweight... I felt like I had to literally explain to her what PCOS was and how it affected my body!) it IS encouraging how far medical science has come in finding alternative ways to treat it. Whilst I seem to just about have it in control for the time being, I'd definitely take a look at advanced tricho pigmentation around my hairline if it got worse. It's a bit like microblading for your scalp, and essentially fills in the gaps with natural looking strokes.

I feel like these sorts of things are something which people are often too embarrassed to talk about, but with so many women suffering from PCOS, it's a big thing. I get complimented on my hair a lot because of how I style it, and it always makes my day because it makes me feel like I'm doing something right. I'd shed so many tears seeing patches get more visible and being terrified pulling out literal handfuls of hair when washing it, but a few small changes and being a bit more careful have helped immensely.

Until next time,

Diana x ❤ x

(All photos (c) Diana Thompson / Fashion Loves Photos unless otherwise stated. Please do not reproduce without written permission.)

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