Can Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?

An Overview of Birth Control and Its Benefits, Risks, and Symptoms

Because hair growth is affected by hormones, you may experience hair loss if you're taking hormonal birth control. Hormonal birth control includes treatments that are implanted, injected, or taken orally.

Read more about how birth control can cause hair loss, as well as its benefits, risks, and other symptoms.

Person holding birth control pack


Article Synopsis

This article discusses how hormonal birth control may cause hair loss. It provides general overviews of the risks, benefits, and other side effects associated with hormonal birth control.

How Does Birth Control Work?

Hormonal birth control prevents pregnancy by reducing, or stopping, ovulation. Ovulation is the release of the egg from the ovary. As well, hormonal birth control can thicken the mucus around the cervix, which makes it harder for the sperm to reach the egg.

The hormones found in birth control can sometimes affect the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for the egg to attach to the uterine wall.

Benefits

Hormonal birth control has a number of associated benefits beyond preventing unwanted pregnancy. While benefits will vary based on the type of hormonal contraception used, there are a number of common benefits among the various types, including:

  • Reduces bleeding and cramping during menstruation
  • Causes fewer periods (or no periods at all)
  • Improves ovulation pain
  • Lowers risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection in the upper reproductive organs
  • Lessens risk of ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, or womb)

Types of Contraceptives

There are various options when it comes to hormonal birth control. Some such options include:

  • The pill: The pill is a form of oral contraceptive taken daily to prevent pregnancy.
  • The minipill: The minipill is another form of oral contraceptive that only contains progestin.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs): IUDs are plastic, t-shaped devices inserted inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
  • Arm implants: Arm implants, such as Nexplanon, are a single-rod implanted into the upper arm to prevent pregnancy.
  • Depo-Provera shot: A prescription option for birth control in which the contraceptive is injected, protecting against pregnancy for several weeks.

Nonhormonal options include:

  • Condoms: These are a barrier used during sex to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These are disposable and placed over the penis.
  • Internal condoms: These are placed inside the vagina for pregnancy prevention, or inside the vagina or anus for protection from STDs.
  • Diaphragm: This is a shallow cup-shaped device made of soft silicone that you bend in half and insert inside your vagina to cover your cervix after inserting spermicide.
  • Cervical cap: This is a small cup made of silicone that you insert into your vagina to cover the cervix after inserting spermicide.
  • Birth control sponge: The sponge is a device that is placed deep inside your vagina prior to sex, covering your cervix and containing spermicide.

Risks

Hormonal birth control is also associated with some risks. The most serious concern is the increased chance of developing a blood clot in the leg, lungs, brain, or heart. However, do note this is rare.

Other factors that increase the chance of medical issues include:

Can Birth Control Cause Hair Loss?

Some people who use hormonal birth control experience hair loss. This mostly happens in those who are particularly sensitive to hormones found in the pill, or for those with a family history of hormone-related hair loss.

Birth control can lower androgens, which are thought of as male hormones, which are linked to hair loss. This is because some progestins used in hormonal birth control can lead to adverse reactions in those with androgen sensitivities. These methods are said to have a high-androgen index.

Other Side Effects

Hormonal birth control may cause other side effects. Some potential side effects of oral contraceptives include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Acne
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Spotting between periods
  • Menstrual flow changes
  • Missed periods
  • Painful mensuration
  • Breast tenderness, enlargement, or discharge
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Lowered libido (sex drive)

If you're experiencing any side effects, talk to your doctor about trying out other birth control options. Because there are many choices of hormonal contraceptives available, and these are not one size fits all, sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the right method for you.

Ways to Treat Hair Loss

There are a number of ways to treat hair loss. Some options include:

  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Light therapy
  • Rogaine (Minoxidil)

When to Seek Professional Treatment

If you're experiencing hair loss as the result of hormonal contraception, you should seek treatment if the issue has not resolved within a few months of being on hormonal birth control, or a few months after you stop using hormonal contraception. This is uncommon and may be the sign of an underlying issue.

Summary

Some hormonal contraception is linked to hair loss. This is because hormones are directly related to hair growth. Not everyone who uses hormonal birth control will experience this, however, and it usually only occurs in those who are sensitive to androgens. As well, it usually is only temporary, and hair will grow back.

A Word From Verywell

Hair loss can be a frustrating, worrisome experience, including when it comes as the result of taking hormonal birth control. However, most of the time, hair loss due to hormonal contraception use is temporary.

If you have concerns about potential hair loss from using hormonal contraception, talk to your doctor.

There are many varieties of hormonal contraceptives, and they're not all perfect for everybody. It may take some trial and error to find the right method for you. Stay open and honest with your doctor. That's what they are there for.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If I stop taking birth control, will my hair loss continue?

    No. Your hair loss should stop after stopping birth control if hormones in your birth control are causing your hair loss. Do be patient, as it may take some time to resolve.

  • Is hair loss from birth control permanent or temporary?

    Hair loss experienced as the result of taking birth control usually is temporary. However, if you are finding that your hair is still shedding after your body has had enough time to adjust to hormonal birth control, consult with your doctor, as this is uncommon.

  • What is the quickest way to treat hair loss caused by birth control?

    Most treatments will take time, and patience is key. Minoxidil, more commonly known by the brand name Rogaine, is a topical option with a high user satisfaction rate that’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. University of Michigan Health. Birth Control: Pros and Cons of Hormonal Methods. Updated October 8, 2020.

  2. University of Michigan Health. Hormonal Birth Control: Risk of Blood Clots. Updated October 2020.

  3. Graves KY, Smith BJ, Nuccio BC. Alopecia due to high androgen index contraceptivesJournal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. 2018;31(8):20-24. doi:10.1097/01.JAA.0000541476.24116.c4

  4. MedlinePlus. Estrogen and Progestin (Oral Contraceptives). Updated September 15, 2015.