7portrait-of-the-young-pregnant-womanDuring my interactions with female patients, I tend to get asked many of the same questions – really great questions that I think are worth addressing on this blog. Today’s post will be the first in a new series we’re calling “Ask Dr. Wendel,” and I’ll answer the question, “How does pregnancy affect a woman’s hair?

With pregnancy, everything changes, and you can expect to see changes in your hair as well. You might see thicker hair – it could change from straight to curly or vice versa – and you could even experience hair loss. But why so many changes?

Normally, hair grows in a regular cycle. But during pregnancy, higher levels of estrogen prolong the “anagen,” or growth, phase and slow down the “telogen,” or resting, phase. This causes hair that normally would have shed from the scalp to continue resting on your head. This explains why some expectant mothers experience thicker and fuller hair during their pregnancy.

In addition, your oil-producing glands may either speed up or slow down oil production, depending on your hormone levels. This may cause otherwise smooth hair to all of a sudden develop frizz, or previously dry hair to become oily at the scalp. In addition, there have been cases where women with straight hair have suddenly developed waves or curly hair got straighter. Crazy, right?

It is also common for a woman to lose hair after giving birth. Postpartum hair loss in new moms is caused by their once-high estrogen levels going back down to normal levels. As the estrogen subsides, women may experience seemingly alarming hair loss for a few months. But the magic word here is temporary. The lost hair will usually be replaced within six months but there are a few cases where the hair loss has gone on longer than a woman would like, and that’s when she may seek help at a hair-loss clinic like Medi Tresse.  It is important to remember that when the hair is replaced it typically goes back to your pre-pregnancy baseline.

Not all pregnant women notice dramatic changes in their hair before and after giving birth. Among those who do, the changes tend to be more obvious in women with longer hair. For more information about how to manage your hair during pregnancy and to learn about treatment options, give us a call to make an appointment for a consultation with our (all-female!) staff.

Posted by Mary Wendel, M.D.