Hair loss after hysterectomy is very upsetting, particularly when you see chunks of hair come out while combing your hair or having a shower.
For women, hair is very important and we are petrified with the thought of becoming bold.
Beautiful voluminous hair is a sign of youth and vitality and often reflects our femininity, style, and personality.
Thinning hairlines and bald spots are socially accepted for men but not for women. So hair loss tends to be very upsetting for a woman and is often the reason she has a low self-esteem.
There are many different types of hair loss (alopecia) and before starting any kind of treatment you will need to pinpoint the reason for your hair loss after hysterectomy. Often medical treatment is not needed and hair loss will improve by some alterations to your diet and by giving your body time to recover from this enormous physical change.
Why do women suffer from hair loss after hysterectomy
Luckily, usually, a temporary condition where women several weeks or months after the hysterectomy see a significant hair shedding. This is often noticed when they are washing or combing their hair. The reason is that after surgery the normal growth cycle of the hair is disrupted. By nature, growing hair, named anagen hair, last around three years and then go in a resting stage for several months. At the end of this cycle, the hair is shed. After a major surgery like hysterectomy more anagen hairs become telogen (resting) hairs and thus speeding up this process. You may see an increased hair loss over a period of 6 to 9 months that in most cases resolves on its own.
Estrogen production drops dramatically when the hysterectomy also involves removal of the ovaries. Thanks to estrogen our hair grows faster and remains on our head longer. When estrogen levels start to drop, hair follicles become more sensitive to male hormones (androgens) and women see a diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp. And for when you are wondering, this is also the reason that some women have an increase of facial hair. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that can do a lot for women with androgenic alopecia.
Some women find a bald patch on the back of their head after hysterectomy surgery. Pressure alopecia can occur after a long operation like a hysterectomy. Prolonged pressure on the scalp may cause damage to tissue and the hair follicles in the area. The longer the surgery, the greater the chance that the damage is irreversible.
Both an underactive and an overactive thyroid can result in changes of all body hair and skin. Women may experience hair thinning, brittle hair and nails. Thyroid hormones target the hair follicles but also the hair cycle and its pigmentation. To treat hair loss due to thyroid problems may take time and comprehensive lab testing. There is no thyroid drug that works for all women and you may need several lab tests to see what medication and dosage will work for you.
Blood loss during surgery or heavy menstrual bleeding before the hysterectomy may cause anemia. Ferritin is a protein in our body cells that stores iron. Optimal ferritin levels are crucial for optimal hair growth. If your ferritin levels are low your hair may shed before it completes its natural cycle. When testing for iron deficiency, make sure your doctor also tests for ferritin levels. You can treat low ferritin levels with iron supplements and by eating iron rich foods.
Losing all your hair from anti-cancer therapy is for most women a traumatic experience. Not all anti-cancer drugs will make you lose your hair. Some may cause only a hardly noticeable thinning. On the positive side, hair will almost always grow back after stopping the therapy. If you dread the thought of losing all your hair due to chemotherapy, you may like to know they invented a new device. Women can wear a device called a Dignicap during a chemo session to prevent hair loss. This device will lower the scalp temperature so there is less blood flow in the area. This way less chemo medication can reach and cause damage to the hair follicles.
What can you do about it?
As we already mentioned: to find the best hair loss treatment you need to find out what causes it. If you are not sure you may want to consult a dermatologist first.
There are three ways one can address the problem of hair loss after hysterectomy.
- Naturally, by adapting your lifestyle
- With supplements or organic treatments
- With medication prescribed by your doctor