One of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is of hair loss. We refer to such hair loss as androgenic alopecia. It tends to be quite a distressing symptom. Indeed, some PCOS treatment London appointments are booked by women whose most distressing symptom is that of hair loss. In this article, you will find information on how exactly androgenic alopecia manifests in women with PCOS. We will go further to look at the underlying causes for androgenic alopecia in women who have PCOS. And we will also say something with regard to how the condition is diagnosed and subsequently treated.
The symptoms of androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS
The main symptom of androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS is hair loss that follows a certain pattern:
- In some cases, the hair starts thinning in the middle part of the scalp. Then it spreads to other parts of the scalp gradually, and in a circular manner.
- In other cases, the hair starts to thin at the hairline point. Then it spreads backwards, in a triangular manner.
Usually, women with androgenic alopecia won’t become totally bald (in the same way as men). What tends to happen instead is thinning and shortening of their hair.
Sometimes, the said thinning and shortening of hair is so bad that it leaves significant parts of the scalps exposed. This can be alarming enough to push a woman into even seeking a private GP London appointment.
Women who experience androgenic alopecia will usually also have other issues. So they also have other standard PCOS symptoms, which include things like:
- Adding weight (and sometimes actually becoming clinically obese)
- Irregularities in monthly periods
- Loss of monthly periods (where they simply don’t come)
- The skin becomes oily and a tendency to have acne
- Abnormal development of hair (also known as hirsutism)
- Challenges with fertility
- Getting depressed
What causes the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS?
At its core, it is a hormonal imbalance that causes the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS.
A woman normally has both female hormones (estrogens) and male hormones (androgens). Those are present in certain proportions. However, as a result of PCOS, this balance may be interfered with. So the woman ends up with more of the male hormones (androgens) than she is supposed to be having. And this in turn leads to symptoms like the androgenic alopecia we are focusing on here.
How the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS is treated
Treatment for the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS may be through:
- The use of certain over-the-counter medications
- The use of certain prescription medications
- The use of certain specialist procedures
Let us look at each of these treatment options in turn.
Over the counter medications for the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS
There is one specific over-the-counter medication that can help. It has approval for the treatment of androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS. Its name is minoxidil. Another name for it is Rogaine.
It only helps in managing the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS. But it does not cure it completely.
The effect of the medication only tends to last for as long as you use it. So once you cease using it, the hair loss may recur.
Besides Rogaine, there are also those who may try using over-the-counter iron supplements. So they use it in a bid to beat the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS. Evidence supporting this approach doesn’t seem to be available, but there are those who nonetheless say that it works.
Prescription medications for androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS
As we have noted, it is hormonal imbalances that ultimately cause the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS.
This being the case, there are medications that try to address those hormonal imbalances. These potent medications are only available with prescriptions. They include:
- Spironolactone: At its core, this is a diuretic drug. But it also lowers androgen levels, when taken. It should be taken with contraceptive pills. Once the androgen levels are lowered, the androgenic alopecia may be reversed.
- Finasteride: The primary purpose of this drug is in treating prostate enlargement. It works by lowering the levels of the main androgen known as testosterone. This makes it viable for use in treating the androgenic alopecia that is caused by PCOS.
- Flutamide: The primary purpose of this drug is in addressing prostate cancer. But because of its tendency to act against androgens, it is used here. So it is used to resolve the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS.
Specialist procedures to treat androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS
Most of the procedures in question here revolve around the idea of hair transplantation.
This may be the transplantation of individual hair follicles, as in the case of follicular unit extraction and then transplantation.
Or it may entail the removal of a strip of skin from the scalp. Then follicles that can be transplanted, to attain the desired result are extracted.
Injections of platelet-rich plasma may also help in addressing androgenic alopecia.
How androgenic alopecia due to PCOS is diagnosed
There are other things, besides PCOS, which can cause androgenic alopecia. Those other potential causes include:
- Being pregnant
- Having reached menopause
- Certain birth control pills
- Tumors that secrete androgens
- Certain autoimmune diseases (an example of which is Hashimoto’s)
That being the case, to diagnose PCOS, a doctor may need to do things like:
- A pelvic exam
- Certain blood tests
- The transvaginal ultrasound
Situations where it is necessary to see a health service provider about the androgenic alopecia that is due to PCOS include:
- Where the loss of hair is sudden and big
- Where there are things like redness of the scalp, itching, or pigmentation change
- Where there are bumps that are full of pus on the scalp
In some cases what you may be seeing is not actually androgenic alopecia. Instead, it may be something else like cicatricial alopecia: which requires urgent attention.
Do you need PCOS treatment London services? Private GP London clinic offers help in that area.