Hair Loss and Thyroid: Symptoms and Treatments

As you age, you will likely be noticing some interesting physical and mental changes that maybe you haven’t heard about before. One that doesn’t get a lot of attention is hair loss in women, especially hair loss due to thyroid hormone imbalances. 

While it’s natural for some women to experience hair loss at certain times in their menstrual cycles, or times of the year, hair loss can also be caused by health conditions. Hair loss and thyroid hormone imbalance are not uncommon.

Once the thyroid hair loss symptoms start, there are things we can do to prevent them from continuing. 

Perimenopause and Menopause?

If you’re between the ages of 35-65 you are likely suffering symptoms related to aging and decreasing hormones associated with perimenopause and menopause. 

Perimenopause starts as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels drop with age; typically in your late 30s and throughout your 40s and 50s. When these hormones start to drop you can start to notice symptoms that most of us try to ignore, but that’s not a great solution for dealing with the symptoms.

Hair Loss, A Lesser-Known Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause

Menopause is spread out over a very long time, some 20 years or more! It can sometimes be so gradual that you don’t notice how bad it’s become. Menopause comes with many minor symptoms that can result in major changes. Some women have only a little discomfort, while others may be slammed with multiple symptoms.

Most menopausal changes are caused by the decline of three hormones; estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone which can directly influence many other hormones including thyroid hormones.  

When hormones are not balanced, some hormones can start to take control. We know that men go bald when there’s too much testosterone. Women suffer the same problem if estrogen and progesterone drop and thyroid hormones are not balanced.

You may notice bald patches, thinning, and undesirable ‘peach fuzz’ may develop on your face. The fluctuating hormones can also create dry, thin, brittle fingernails.

Thyroid Hormones and Hair Growth

Thyroid hormones play a role in menopause and how healthy your hair and nails are. When your hair grows, it starts at the scalp and grows out of the hair follicle. You need proper circulation in the scalp to nourish the hair follicles which helps your hair to grow.

Hair growth is a cycle… hair falls out and regrows, and around, and around it goes. There will always be a few follicle cells that are ‘resting’ from this growth cycle.2

Hair loss is a very common symptom of a thyroid imbalance. We know that when thyroid hormones are disrupted (too high or too low) hair loss, breakage and thinning can follow.1 We all lose some hair daily, and then it regrows. But when thyroid hormones are off, that natural regrowth is disturbed and you aren’t replacing that broken hair. 

If you are seeing a lot of hair coming out in the shower or as you brush it — more than 100 strands per day – you are experiencing significant hair loss. 

If thyroid levels are really off, people can experience alopecia which causes patchy or complete hair loss. The word ‘alopecia’ is just the medical term for ‘bald.’ 

Hair loss, especially when it feels like it is increasing, can lead people to worry that all of their hair will fall out (alopecia totalis), but hair loss caused by thyroid disorders is usually temporary and can be reversed.

Estrogen is a hormone that directly affects your thyroid hormone levels and the thyroid gland and its ability to produce enough of two hormones: triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4). 

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When estrogen levels drop, there can be a drop in circulating thyroid hormones and then your body tries to stimulate more T4 production by releasing what’s called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). TSH’s job is to nudge the thyroid gland to make more T4. 

As you can see, it’s quite a cycle that is dependent on a balance of hormones – especially estrogen. Getting estrogen balanced can help normalize the other hormones that depend on it and potentially prevent ‘hypothyroidism’ or ‘hyperthyroidism.’

The relationship between estrogen levels and thyroid function may be the missing link in our understanding of the connection between hypothyroidism and menopause. Estrogen can affect thyroid function in other ways too:

  • Estrogen stimulates the growth of the thyroid gland which is a small butterfly-shaped gland on the front of your neck. Excess estrogen can lead to an enlarged thyroid (goiter) right there on your neck,

  • Estrogen regulates the protein that binds to the thyroid hormone (TBG) in the bloodstream which acts as a taxi for the thyroid hormone to get to all of the needed locations in your body. Too little estrogen and there are not enough ‘taxis’ to get the hormones where they need to go.

  • Estrogen is also responsible for stimulating thyroglobulin, a hormone that breaks down and becomes thyroid hormone. Too much estrogen can stimulate the production of high levels of thyroglobulin which can also result in a goiter.

How the Thyroid Works With Estrogen During the Menopausal Transition

During peri- and menopause women produce unpredictable levels of the hormones progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone – which will all impact the levels of thyroid hormones. 

Hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) goes hand-in-hand with aging and menopause which leads scientists to acknowledge the connection between the drop in estrogen and thyroid function.4 

The symptoms of hypothyroidism and menopause are usually similar, and also interrelated. For instance, hair loss, moodiness, forgetfulness, depression, irregular menstrual cycles, and weight changes are associated with both hypothyroidism and menopause.

When there is too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), you can also see symptoms similar to menopause-like sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, heat intolerance, and hot flashes.4

Whether you have too much thyroid hormone, or too little, these types of thyroid issues can elevate your risk of health complications linked to menopause, such as urinary tract infection, weight gain, insomnia, and heart disease.4

How to Stop Hormonal Hair Loss and Thyroid

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can help to get your estrogen levels back which will normalize your thyroid hormones too. Level out the thyroid hormones and you can see a quick improvement in your hair loss. 

  • Stress management will help you from losing hair rapidly. High levels of stress increase the hormone cortisol (the stress hormone) and can lead to hair loss.

    • Meditation, journaling, yoga, and exercising outdoors can reduce cortisol levels.

  • Nutrition can play a key role in hair health. Make sure you are getting enough protein, as protein is a building block for hair. 

  • Make sure you have sufficient iron intake because Iron is associated with hair growth.

  • Try a multivitamin with biotin. A, C, E, and B vitamins, zinc, copper, and CoQ10 can also contribute to hair health.

  • Scalp massages to stimulate circulation can improve the hair growth cycle.

What are other causes of hair loss

  • Age, especially after 40

  • Hair damage from over-styling or products

  • Fungal issues

  • Trauma ( surgery or injury)

  • Chronic stress

  • Weight loss

  • Inherited male-pattern or female-pattern hair loss

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Chemotherapy drugs

Signs and Symptoms That Your Hair Loss is Connected to a Thyroid Disorder

  1. Thinning eyebrows.
    We don’t know exactly why the eyebrow is targeted in thyroid disorders, but this is a good indicator that your thyroid hormones may be low.

  2. Hair that is brittle, dry, and breaks easily.
    Dry, brittle hair is also connected to low thyroid function. Low thyroid hormone can lead to the early release of the hair shaft and root, as well as premature gray or white hair.

  3. Feeling exhausted all the time, even after 8 hours of sleep.
    The thyroid regulates our metabolism, so it affects the way we use and store energy. If we have low thyroid hormone levels, our metabolism can slow down and can lead to fatigue and weight gain.

  4. Puffiness in the face or extremities.
    Low thyroid can cause excess water retention.

  5. Yellowing of the palms of your hands.
    Yellowing of the skin on your hands can happen with a thyroid imbalance due to a build-up of carotene in your blood. Hypothyroidism can slow the conversion of carotene to vitamin A.2

    If you think your hair loss might be connected to a thyroid imbalance, begin supporting your thyroid — and your hair — naturally. Our exclusive hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can start to reverse the thyroid hormone concentration errors and can positively affect your thyroid function.

Read more  Thyroid TSH Changes Throughout the Day

How Can Winona Help?

All of these symptoms can adversely impact a woman’s life. However, effective menopause treatments, like hormone replacement therapy (HRT), are available to help you prevent your hair loss and thyroid changes.

Winona encourages women to try various treatment options whether HRT, diet, or lifestyle changes to identify what works best for them to prevent this thyroid hair loss. If you are not noticing improvement with your HRT, we encourage you to discuss the hair loss, and possibly thyroid problems, with your primary care provider. 

While we know perimenopause and menopause are inevitable, you don’t have to endure the sometimes embarrassing symptoms, like hair loss.

With menopause support from Winona, you have the opportunity to take preventive action against health risks associated with the ever-decreasing hormones as we age. It can be done by using natural menopause relief in the form of HRT and other natural remedies.

Hormone replacement is a safe and physiologically natural way for you to regain your vitality, and HRT can restore proper hormone levels using substances that are bioidentical to those produced by your own body.

Winona’s healthcare platform is a place to safely connect with a healthcare provider to receive care, to ask the sometimes difficult and maybe even embarrassing questions. 






— Update: 19-03-2023 — found an additional article When Is Hair Growth a Sign of a Hormonal Imbalance? from the website for the keyword hypothyroidism peach fuzz.

Somewhere along the way, the sexist notion that bodies assigned female should have smooth, hairless, baby seal skin gained traction. But contrary to popular belief, it's actually quite common (and completely normal) for females to have facial hair, be it along the jaw, above the lip, or on the chin.

What can be a sign of something wrong though, is experiencing thick, rapid hair growth across your face and body. In fact, new, sudden changes in hair growth can actually be one of the frontward presenting signs of a hormonal imbalance. To get to the bottom of what kind of hair growth signals a hormonal balance (or any other serious condition), we reached out to OB/GYN Shweta Desai and a dermatologist Dr. Michelle Green for everything there is to know about the intersection of hair growth and hormones.

Ahead, with their help, discover whether your facial hair is nothing to worry about or if it’s time to ring your doctor for direct medical advice. 

Causes of Facial Hair in Females

So often we’re taught to believe that any and all facial hair in females is a sign of a problem. In reality, Desai says that facial hair growth in women is totally normal, so long as it’s in small amounts. Think: peach fuzz or a few darker strands here and there. “The appearance of peach fuzz or a stray dark, coarse strand of hair every once in a while [say, on your chin], shouldn’t be a reason to sound the alarms,” adds Green.

While some facial hair is par for the course, Desai, who is the chief wellness advisor at Love Wellness, says that if the hair is growing in thick and coarse, there’s a chance that hirsutism (or excessive male-pattern hair growth) is at play. “Hirsutism affects between five and 10 percent of females of reproductive age,” she explains, noting that it’s caused by an uptick in androgens (aka male hormones like testosterone). 

When diagnosing hirsutism, Desai says that multiple factors play a role, including age, race, and family history. “Providers will examine areas that are known to be most sensitive to androgens, including the upper lip, chin, chest, abdomen, pubic region, arms, thighs, and back,” she adds.

Read more  When Is Hair Growth a Sign of a Hormonal Imbalance?

If your doctor finds that your excessive growth patterns are occurring in areas of androgen sensitivity, then it’s likely that your hair growth is a sign of hormonal imbalance. As for the cause of the imbalance? Desai says that PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which begins at puberty and causes an imbalance of sex hormones), androgen-secreting tumors, and congenital adrenal hyperplasia could be at play (more on those, below).

Facial Hair Growth: When Is It a Sign of Hormonal Imbalance?

When it comes to excessive growth, most times it is a sign of a hormonal imbalance. However, according to Green, genetics and metabolism also influence patterns of hair growth. So, while PCOS and adrenal gland disorders might be the cause, it’s also possible that pregnancy and menopause—two completely normal cycles of life that cause intense changes in hormones—could play a role. Additionally, she points out that unwanted facial hair growth can also be related to using certain medications like Minoxidil (Rogaine), Androgel (testosterone), or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

Additionally, Desai mentions that, while extremely rare, excessive facial hair growth can be due to hypertrichosis. “Hypertrichosis is the excessive growth of androgen-independent hair that is soft and in non-androgen sensitive areas,” she explains. “This type of hair growth is most commonly due to family history, but can also be related to hypothyroidism, anorexia, or oral medications.”

Because of all these factors, it’s important to know when facial hair growth is actually a concern for your health. 

When Is Facial Hair a Red Flag?

A stray hair here or there isn’t a big deal. Neither is peach fuzz on your lip or cheeks. It’s when you notice a sudden change in the density, pattern, or overall appearance of your facial hair that Green says you should be concerned and see your physician for evaluation.

“These things may be a sign that other changes are happening in the body,” she explains. “Other signs of hyperandrogenism, besides hair growth, are acne, high blood pressure, irregular periods, deepening of your voice, weight gain, and increased muscle mass.” 

When to Consult a Doctor

Since so many factors could be at play, she recommends making an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist to go over your concerns. Though, you can also make an appointment with an OB/GYN, as they’re specialized in disorders like PCOS, which could be at play. 

Either way, if you are concerned about any excessive hair growth, it’s important to raise questions on the matter to your doctor of choice. That way, you’ll be able to approach your hair growth with medical expertise and it’s possible that you may even be able to rule out disorders that need medical management.

How to Remove Unwanted Facial Hair

Depending on the cause of your facial hair growth, your hair removal options will vary. If your hair growth is due to a hormonal imbalance, Green says that testosterone-reducing oral medications like Spironolactone (which also helps treat acne) can help, as can oral contraceptives which also help regulate hormonal imbalance. And, whether your hair growth is the result of hormone imbalance or genetics, there’s always the option to tweeze, bleach, wax, and laser it away if it bothers you.

“The most effective method for treating unwanted hair growth is laser hair removal,” Green says. “Other methods of hair removal can be painful, time-consuming, costly, and messy.” Conversely, laser hair removal like GentleLase and GentleYAG can target hair growth in a few sessions to permanently stop its growth, all without damaging skin in the process. 

The Takeaway

Facial hair growth is normal regardless of your assigned sex. Even when it grows in excess and is linked to hormonal imbalances, it’s linked to conditions that many people before and after you have and will experience. While some of the triggers for rapid facial hair growth can feel scary, knowing how to approach, monitor, and overcome them is helpful. Fortunately, there are OB/GYNs and dermatologists to help with just that.


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