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Hair loss in pregnancy

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

For most, the abundance of estrogen causes a slowing down of hair shedding, and many women report increased volume and lustrous locks during pregnancy. But this isn’t so for all – the relative stress to the body in the first trimester may cause hair loss, but this is only evident later in the pregnancy. Hair will come back – you’ll notice regrowth two to four months after the baby is delivered.

What is postnatal hair loss?

Your estrogen adjusts to normal levels after delivery, and this relative drop can cause shedding, which was put on hold in pregnancy, to resume. This feels like you’re losing lots of hair and can be distressing (along with so much else to cope with as your body and your life changes). But it’s just a readjustment; your hair will return to its usual pre-pregnancy state.

Is there a medical cause?

Pregnancy can prompt new thyroid problems: hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) or, less commonly in pregnancy, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland). These symptoms can be difficult to spot as your body changes during pregnancy. Still, if you have substantial weight changes, changes to your hair or skin, or your heart feels like it’s beating hard, fast, slow, or irregularly, these are all reasons to visit your doctor for a blood test.

Pregnancy causes mild anemia, which is expected, but significant iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia can cause hair loss – this may be a reason to see your doctor.

Both of these conditions can cause fatigue or, in the case of hyperthyroidism, sleep disturbance. Again, it’s very hard to tease this apart from pregnancy symptoms, but be aware that other conditions can complicate your pregnancy.

When should I see my doctor?

See your doctor if you have hair loss in pregnancy with substantial changes to your weight, concerns about your heart rate, or you think your tiredness is disproportionate. If you've been pregnant before, you may be able to compare, and if there's any family history of thyroid problems or an autoimmune disease, discuss this with your doctor. They can examine your hair and send you for blood tests.

Chemical hair regrowth products such as Rogaine are available but should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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