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Postpartum Hair Loss; Why Does It Happen?

By MomMed | 22 July 2022 | 0 Comments


Pregnancy is one of the most overwhelming experiences especially when you are a new mommy-to-be. Your body goes through several changes while going through the 9-month pregnancy journey. However, you would be startled by the fact that there are much more physical and emotional changes you are going to experience even after having the baby.

Yes, it is exactly how it sounds!

Post-partum hair loss is one surprising and quite unacceptable change for new mothers. Most of the women get depressed and scared about the fact once they start to notice it.
Before talking in detail about the causes and reasons for post-partum hair loss let's first discuss the post-partum period?


What Exactly is The Postpartum Period?

The word post-partum refers to "after child-birth”. The post-partum period is considered as short as six weeks to as long as eight months after giving birth. Hence it is the duration when you are done with the pregnancy phase and enter into the mommy phase.

Postpartum period no doubt is challenging and taxing for the new mothers out there. Your body goes through drastic changes both physically as well as emotionally during that time. However, you might get little or no time to understand and digest those changes.

Postpartum changes you might notice:
Enlarged Breasts (Sometimes unequal size)
Breast milk and discharge
Lochia (Vaginal discharge)
Bulging belly
Stretch marks especially on the belly, thighs, and breasts
Enlarged and swollen genitals
Restrained menstruation (especially while breastfeeding)
Postpartum constipation
Postpartum hair loss


What Is Postpartum Hair Loss?

Mostly, it's just weight and body changes that are discussed regarding the postpartum expectations. But one surprising thing you might notice after giving birth is post-partum hair loss.  

It is a condition where your hair starts to fall drastically at a much higher than normal hair-loss rate. You might see scooping hair clusters on your bathroom floor or sinkhole. A whole chunk might of the fallen hair might also be welcomed by your hairbrush daily.

However, Don’t Panic! it is just as normal as other post-partum changes in your body Moreover, it is not as bad as it sounds in most cases.  Dermatologists refer to this as “Telegon effluvium” or “Excessive post-partum shedding” instead of hair loss.


The Normal Hair Growth Cycle

We normally shed around 50 to 100 strands per day which depicts that hair growth occurs typically in the cycle form.  The normal cycle consists of three phases:

Anagen Phase- (The growing Phase)It is the state in which your hair grows rapidly. The rate of this growth is about 0.5 inches per month. However, it may vary due to gender, age, and many other hormonal, environmental and dietary factors.

Catagen Phase-The hair growth starts to weaken its roots and scrub out from the hair follicles slowly preparing it for the next phase.

Telogen Phase- The hair sheds and falls actively during this phase. It continues for about 3 months before the new hair growth phase starts again.

Exogen Phase- a recently discovered phase of the growth cycle. This phase does not always occur, however when it does it lasts for about 3 months causing the extension of the telogen phase. The new hair growth is halted temporarily and the hair shedding continues during the exogen phase.

What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?

Two female hormones “Estrogen and progesterone" play an important role in not only conceiving but also maintaining the pregnancy for the 9 months. Estrogen hormone affects your body in numerous ways including helping the reproductive organs grow and prepare for pregnancy. Similarly, it also stimulates hair growth and helps them stay growing for longer periods.

 During pregnancy, the estrogen levels are very high which causes an increased proportion of your hair in the Anagen (Growing) phase and even causes the hair to freeze in the resting phase. Hence the hair growth flourishes and appears much more healthy, voluminous, and shiny.

However, telogen effluvium occurs after pregnancy because the estrogen levels fall back to normal. It causes the newly grown and resting hair to fall. This is when you notice excessive hair shedding leaving you with thin and less voluminous post-partum hair.

However, this post-partum hair loss does not occur immediately after delivery. It might take 4 to 5 months to appear when most of the other post-partum signs start to fade away slowly. This is because the hormones take time to settle and balance themselves after the long pregnancy period. Usually, it takes 4 months for the estrogen levels to settle down to those before pregnancy.

Does Postpartum Hairloss Happen to Everyone?

Postpartum hair loss is pretty common and occurs in almost every woman. However, several factors can affect the frequency and abundance of postpartum hair loss in different women.

Some might experience an exaggerated telogen effluvium resulting in much more hair fall.

In severe cases, it can also lead to a condition called postpartum alopecia. It can occur two to four months after parturition. However, it is less common and studies are still undergoing its root cause.

At the same time, you can be lucky enough to experience very less noticeable hair loss changes in your head. However, on average, about 85 to 90% of women experience noticeable post-partum hair loss.


The Takeaway Message

Post-partum hair loss is quite normal and inevitable. Most women tend to stress a lot about it; however, it is just a temporary phase that will likely settle once your hormones and other body changes adapt themselves to the post-partum conditions.

However, in case you notice severe hair loss or alopecia signs, there might be some other causes resulting in the exaggeration of this normal physiological phase. It is, therefore, recommended to consult your doctor to rule out any other health issues and get a proper diagnosis.


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