Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Help with Hair Loss?
What is hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy, also known as HRT, is a medical treatment most commonly used for the symptoms of menopause. During menopause, a woman’s body goes through various changes that are driven by changing hormone levels within the body. Some hormones increase while others decrease, leading to physical changes and various symptoms.
Many symptoms associated with female menopause are minor, however in some cases, women may experience particularly distressing or uncomfortable bodily changes as a result of hormonal shifts. Hormone replacement therapy seeks to remedy this.
Estrogen and progesterone are the most common components of hormone replacement therapy for assisting with the management of female menopausal symptoms. These particular hormones tend to decrease during this time of life, which in turn can result in hair loss, mood swings, lack of sleep, and low libido.
Does hormone replacement therapy help with hair loss?
So does Hormone Replacement Therapy help with hair loss? Hair growth is a complicated process that depends on a number of factors within the body that can affect the speed and consistency of hair growing as well as how easily and often it falls out. The primary hormones associated with hair growth are estrogen and progesterone — which are also the key ingredients in most hormone replacement therapy.
These two hormones can help keep your hair in what is called the anagen phase. The anagen phase is one in which your hair grows. During most of your life, approximately 90% of the hairs on your head will be in this anagen phase. The telogen phase is when the hair stops growing. This is natural and nothing to be concerned about. As you shed these hairs, new ones will grow.
As women age, their hair becomes different. The lowering of estrogen and progesterone means that more of your hair will be in the telogen phase. This is what causes hair thinning during menopause. The good news is that Hormone Replacement Therapy can increase the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body, thus reducing hair loss.
Is menopausal hair loss reversible with hormone replacement therapy?
Losing your hair can be one of the most distressing menopausal symptoms. Fortunately, hormone replacement therapy can help treat this to prevent you losing any more hair, as explained above. But the even better news is that hormone replacement therapy can actually reverse menopausal hair loss.
Because estrogen and progesterone help keep more of your hair in the anagen phase, this means that more of your hair will be growing. It also means that less of your hair will be in the telogen phase, so that overall your hair will grow faster, and over time even start to thicken once more.
Can you stay on hormone replacement therapy forever?
Hormone replacement therapy is not designed to be taken forever and is intended to treat the symptoms associated with menopause, which is a temporary condition in the body. Most women stop taking hormone replacement therapy once their menopause symptoms pass, following the conclusion of the bodily phase.
Doctors warn that taking hormone replacement therapy for longer than one year can increase risk of breast cancer. This risk continues to increase the longer you are on hormone replacement therapy. Generally speaking, it’s considered safest to continue this type of treatment for around one year.
Many women fear that their hair may start to fall out and thin again once they stop taking hormone replacement therapy. This is not necessarily going to happen, and most women do not report a return of menopausal symptoms. However, if you do, you should always consult your doctor. You may need another course of hormone replacement therapy.
What happens when you stop hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy can be stopped immediately or gradually. Which is best for you will depend on your individual needs, your menopausal stage, and of course your doctor’s advice. The most common means of stopping hormone replacement therapy is to slowly decrease doses over time in order to wean the body off the additional hormones. Most women report this being the most comfortable way to cease hormone replacement therapy.