What causes testosterone to raise in women?
I have just got blood tests back showing I have high testosterone and low ferritin. I high SBH levels which is good but I think thats from taking the herb saw palmetto.I had blood taken in February while I was on the pill and had low ferritin then but normal/low testosterone. I stopped the pill (Yasmin) on advice it will lower copper which was extremely high for me at the time (and very low B12). Having come off the pill my hair loss has worsened, and it has fallen out at rates of 500 a day and I have also develeoped acne. The hair loss is a general thinning overall, but is especially bad on the sides of my head.
I was on Diane 35 for years and had no problem but switched to Yasmin (because Diane35 was issued as a health warning for blood clots here in NZ). After switching to Yasmin my hair loss started. i stopped Yasmin in Feb this year. I have had hair loss for one year now and it's very aggressive.
My GP has started me on Spironaltone at 25mg and she thinks I should consider going back on Diane35 but isn't sure as I'm sensitive to BCPs. She also wants me to be tested for PCOS because of the testosterone, acne and irregular periods. I don't have facial hair, body hair, middle wieght, the hair loss isn't patterned and am not insulin resistant (which she tested for too).
My questuons are:
1: What causes testosterone to go up in women? (I know coming off the pill has shown I have a high level, but want to work out WHY it's high so that I can treat the cause, ie is it ovaries, adrenals or pituitary).
2: Does blocking testosterone stop the hair loss and growth will start?
3: Can low ferritin and high testosterone cause diffuse thinning and rapid loss (200-500 hairs a day)? Is this TE or AGA and can you have both a once?
It's all very confusing and any advice would be greatly appreciated
Sorry for the spelling mistakes!
IAHRS Recommended Hair Transplant Surgeon
Originally Posted by Pax
Thank you for taking the time to write! Let me try to answer your question as best I can.
At first we will need a little clarification, however. You mentioned that "having come off the pill my hair loss has worsened..." but you also state that "After switching to Yasmin my hair loss started..." Did Yasmin help or worsen your hair loss? Believe it or not, both situations can happen in my experience! And, as you can imagine it can be very frustrating to figure out what exactly is going on.
I can tell you in answer to your first question that in general, estrogen is protective for women's hair and that there are many causes of increased testosterone in women - too many to name in fact! PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a big one and menopause is another (but only relatively since it is the loss of estrogen that makes the same level of testosterone have more of an effect). Certain kinds of tumors can also cause increased testosterone levels, as can several different drugs. Sometimes testosterone is naturally high in an individual - nothing wrong, no diseases or conditions, just naturally more testosterone than the next person.
As for your second question, if your hair loss is due to an increase in testosterone, then YES! Blocking testosterone can help stop the hair loss and regrowth will likely occur. If the hair loss is due to something else, like low iron, or low thyroid, or a vitamin deficiency, then blocking the testosterone will not fix the problem.
Finally, to answer your third question about rapid loss (from TE/AGA), the honest answer is that no one knows and that it probably varies from person to person. I know a doctor who is chronically anemic (low ferritin and low iron) who has PCOS with off-the-chart testosterone and NO hair loss, at all. I also had a patient with low iron (low ferritin) only and she had diffuse thinning and rapid loss as you describe yourself having. All of which just goes to show you that different people manifest diseases differently. You can also have multiple hair-loss-causing conditions at once (and Telogen Effluvium (TE) with AndroGenetic Alopecia (AGA) is not unheard of) which simply confuses the picture.
I am not your doctor and have never examined you, so it is a little difficult to give advice over email, but I would sit down with your doctor and map out a plan. It helps if your doc has an interest in hair and has kept up on all the different causes of hair loss in women, but most physicians have a good grasp on the basics and that is what you are going to your doctor for - to figure this out together! You are not alone in your struggle to find and treat the cause, it sounds as if your doctor is putting some thought into this and I would follow her advice. If it becomes clear that you need someone with more expertise, you can ask a specialist.
Finally, be patient. Due to the growth cycles of hair, it takes at least 9-12 months to see improvement, so don't give up! Stick with it! This waiting period where you feel like an "ugly duckling" is probably tougher than not knowing what the diagnosis is, but all of my women patients are strong-willed so I can assume you are too.
I wish you good luck, Pax. I hope this has helped you.
Sara Wasserbauer, MD
Member, International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons
View my IAHRS Profile
Alternative help - basic understanding of your situation.
Pax, I found the link to this forum through google research for the same issue and thought I'd give you another point of view (3 years later - better late than never).
I completely understand what you're going through and I can tell you that by much research over the years I've learned a lot about hormones and how they can really affect us negatively when in the wrong levels. The problem actually lies in the progesterone levels - not so much the estrogen and/or testosterone levels. As both men and women have these three hormones, it is the PROGESTERONE hormone that keeps the estrogen and testosterone levels in check (like insulin regulates blood sugar levels). Through many years of using the pill myself (I've now been off for 3 years) my body hasn't been able to return to "normal" estrogen and testosterone levels on it's own. However, since I've started on a TRANSDERMAL NATURAL progesterone cream, I have notied a significant increase in the thickness of my hair - admittedly it wasn't rapid but I can definately see a remarkable difference when comparing to photos from 6 months ago. I've also stopped being a personal trainer by profession, which means I don't have to keep up the high training/muscle-building schedule. When females do a lot of exercie and have considerably low fat levels and higher than normal lean muscle tissue than naturally required, the body becomes accustomed to prodicing slightly higher testosterone levels (even a slightly higher level can make a massive impact on a woman).
I need to point out the comparison to menopausal women and hair-loss to make my point......Estrogen is NOT the culprit to menopause sysmptoms, PROGESTERONE is!! Although estrogen decreases at pre-menopause phase, progesterone plummets dramatically and considerably. The first thing a doctor will tell you is your estrogen levels are low, tesosterone levels are slightly higher and then persist to prescribe HRT (MORE ESTROGEN) instead of giving you more progesterone to balance the levels of estrogen and testosterone.
I can tell you right now that the ONLY way to correctly measure your hormone levels is through a salivary test, NOT a blood test. Blood tests don't measure biologically active hormone levels (eg progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, estrogen, DHEA) like saliva tests do. Naturopaths will gladly give you a saliva test to do at home or you can purchase them online and send them away for analysis.
But for now, what I'd suggest you do/consider, is finding a doctor that deals with "Bio-identical" hormones and prescribe you with a transdermal progesterone cream in order to balance your estrogen and progesterone levels. I found a company in New Zealand that specialises in natural hormone creams, I'm sure there are many in the US and Europe.
I hope that gives you a good understanding of your stiuation.
Hi there, I've had my thyroid and iron levels tested and the results were normal, my hair loss has been ongoing for 15 years, and I'm starting to believe it's hereditary through my father, as my 15 year old sister is starting to have a hair loss problem too. Being women, it is very embarrassing for us.
So my question is, could it be high testosterone levels? There is a supplement I just came across which is a DHT inhibitor combined with saw palmetto. Do i need to test my testosterone levels before attempting this supplement, or can i risk it? what are the risks for women? the product is called Trichotin
Don't waste your money on suppliments like this. None of them actually do anything meaningful to treat hair loss. They are nothing more than over priced bottles of empty promises.
It is very important for women to determine the cause of their hair loss and resolve it if possible. You need to see a doctor who specializes in treating hair loss. If your hair loss is hereditary, there are medications the doctor can prescribe for you that will help get this resolved. You also have the option of using Rogaine (or generic Minxodil) if that is appropriate for you. The laser comb is another option that may help you. You need to start by talking to a specialist though.
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