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Does Low Estrogen Cause Hair Loss?

Katelyn Hagerty

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 07/25/2021

Updated 06/26/2023

There’s a lot we blame on our hormones, from unexpected tears, to hot flashes, to your sex drive. One thing you may not think to blame on your hormones though? Hair loss. 

It may be surprising, but hormones actually play a role in thinning hair. But more specifically, does estrogen cause hair loss? 

Your hormones work together to help your bodily processes function correctly. But an imbalance in hormones can affect many things, from your sex drive to, well, your hair. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the science of whether estrogen causes hair loss and tips on treating signs of thinning. And if you want to learn more about hair loss in women, check out our guide to other root causes that may cause hair to become sparse.

Can Low Estrogen Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss is wildly common — yes, even in women. And while it’s typical to shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day, there may be a more significant underlying health issue if you’re losing a lot more.

Research has shown that up to 50 percent of females can be affected by female pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia. It’s believed this type of hair thinning stems from an excessive response to androgens, which may be due to genetics but that link isn’t clearly established in female hair loss yet. 

Female pattern hair loss is characterized by follicular miniaturization (basically shrinking hair follicles). These miniaturized follicles can result in thinner and shorter hairs over time, creating the appearance of balding or thinning in females.

One potential cause of hair loss is a change in your levels of certain hormones. Specifically, while the role of estrogen, the female sex hormone, in human hair growth isn’t totally clear, it may be protective against hair loss in women. 

Estradiol, a form of estrogen, can bind to estrogen receptors and influence the process that turns androgen into estrogen — sounds complicated, but it’s a necessary function for the hair growth cycle.

While your levels of estrogen can fluctuate a bit, a drop in estrogen levels over time may be caused by a health issue, certain medications or menopause. 

In one study conducted on 20 premenopausal women with androgenetic alopecia, serum levels were tested on the first day of their menstrual cycle. The ratio of estradiol to free testosterone and the ratio of estradiol to dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) were significantly lower in patients than in the control group.

The researchers concluded that the ratio of estradiol to free testosterone may be a factor in triggering female pattern hair loss in women.

What Causes Low Estrogen?

With each menstrual cycle, female hormones will go up and down. But consistently low estrogen could be a sign of a bigger issue — though honestly, it could also just be a sign you’re getting older. 

During your reproductive years, your ovaries are responsible for making the majority of your estrogen. But once you’re about 45+, menopause sets in and your ovaries gradually decrease their estrogen production. 

Other potential causes of low estrogen include:

  • Being underweight or having very little body fat.While fashion ads may have you believing skinny is in, research has found that estrogen production is usually lower in women with very little body fat than in women with normal levels of fat — but just to complicate things, this study concluded that women with high body fat also had low estrogen levels.

  • Exercising excessively. While moderate exercise is generally fabulous for your health, large amounts of high-intensity exercise may affect your hormone production and result in lower estrogen levels.

  • Being under significant stress. Channeling some chill isn’t just about your mood — it can also play a role in your hairline. Research shows that psychological stress may make the natural decrease in estrogen during your menstrual cycle more extreme, cranking up the hormonal imbalance — and the issues that come with it.

  • Thyroid disorders. Research shows that thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone production), may cause a reduction in the amount of estrogen and other sex hormones produced by your body. But keep in mind, the sample size for the above study included only 59 women.

  • Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). Also referred to as premature ovarian failure, this is when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she’s 40 years old. This condition is often linked to genetic, metabolic or immune system disorders.

  • Turner syndrome. This chromosomal condition can result in an early loss of ovarian function.

  • Using certain types of medication. Some medications, including those used in breast cancer treatment and prevention, work by reducing the amount of estrogen produced by your body.

Other Symptoms of Low Estrogen

In addition to hair loss, other symptoms of low estrogen may include:

  • Reduced interest in sex

  • Less frequent menstrual periods, or no periods

  • Hot flashes (sudden, intense feelings of warmth) and/or night sweats

  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep

  • Vaginal dryness and thinning of vaginal tissue

  • Dry skin

  • Mood swings

  • Weight gain (especially in the belly area)

  • Fatigue

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How to Treat Low Estrogen Hair Loss

So now you know the basics, but you might still be wondering how to stop estrogen hair loss. TBH, there’s not a simple, straightforward answer here. Since several health issues can cause low estrogen, no one-size-fits-all medication can treat low estrogen-related hair loss. 

Your healthcare provider may suggest using medication to boost your body’s estrogen production if it’s low. You may also benefit from hair loss treatments designed to promote healthier hair and improve hair growth.

Let’s dive into the various hair loss treatments that can help you stop estrogen hair loss. 

Check Your Estrogen Levels First

If you’re worried you may have low estrogen levels, it’s essential to talk to your healthcare provider

Getting your estrogen levels checked is a simple blood test. This sample will be tested in a lab for the three different types of estrogen your body makes: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3).

If these levels are low, your provider will likely conduct additional tests to figure out what’s going on. 

If your levels come back in the normal range, there may be another root cause for your hair loss. You can learn more about the causes of female pattern baldness and treatments in our comprehensive guide. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

If you have persistent low estrogen levels, your healthcare provider may prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

HRT is often referred to as estrogen replacement therapy. It’s commonly used to treat menopausal symptoms and involves mimicking hormones (like estrogen and progesterone) created by the human ovary.

There are various ways HRT can be delivered: orally, and through the skin (transdermally) with patch, vaginal inserts, cream or subdermal pellets.

HRT can cause side effects like risk of stroke or heart disease, so it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits to ensure this treatment is right for you. 

Natural Remedies

There are certain holistic measures you can take to help naturally increase estrogen, including getting enough sleep, reducing stress and maintaining a healthy body weight. Here's the full deets on how these factors can help:

  • Work towards a healthy body weight. Being underweight or very overweight could cause lower estrogen levels. Speak with a dietician to ensure you’re getting the appropriate calories, as well as the vitamins and minerals essential for healthy hair growth.

  • Exercise in moderation. Yes, we love a good HIIT class, too but don’t overdo it. Over exercise can mess with hormone levels.

  • Reduce stress. Too many stress hormones (like cortisol) can wreak havoc on hormones, throwing everything out of balance. Try practices like meditation or yoga to help channel some zen and keep your hormones happy.

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Hair Growth Medication

There are various medications that are effective in cases of female pattern hair loss. Here are some hair loss treatments you may want to consider:

  • Minoxidil. Nervous about hair growth medication? No sweat — minoxidil has been used for decades to treat hair loss without any big risks, and is an FDA-approved topical treatment for female pattern hair loss. A review of  clinical trials showed patients with androgenetic alopecia treated with 2% or 5% minoxidil had major improvements in hair growth and less hair loss. These topical formulations may have fewer side effects than other treatments like spironolactone. They’re also available over-the-counter, so adding to cart is super easy. Hers offers both minoxidil drops (2% strength) and minoxidil foam (5% strength). 

  • Topical finasteride and minoxidil spray. This two-in-one spray combines 0.3% finasteride and 6% minoxidil for a powerful formula that can help promote new hair growth for post-menopausal women. Topical finasteride has not been approved by the FDA to treat female pattern hair loss, but has been used off-label for this condition.

  • Oral minoxidil. This once-daily prescription pill may be a good pick if you haven’t responded well to topical minoxidil. While the FDA hasn’t approved oral minoxidil for hair loss, clinical trials have shown it’s quite effective for hair growth at various doses (0.25 to 2.5 mg daily).

  • Spironolactone. For those with signs of hyperandrogenism (excessive androgen hormones) and other hormonal imbalances, spironolactone may be an effective treatment for female pattern hair loss. Spironolactonestops androgen from binding to receptors, which reduces testosterone and DHT levels and decreases hair loss. But just so you know, women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant shouldn’t take spironolactone. 

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Estrogen and Hair Loss: Takeaways

Estrogen may play a role in how lush your hair is, but before ya freak out (keep those stress levels low, remember?), know that there are definite steps you can take to get healthy hair if you have low estrogen. Maintain thicker, healthier hair by:

  • Checking in with your healthcare provider. Whether or not you have estrogen hair loss should really be determined by a medical professional, so make an appointment today.

  • Up your estrogen levels. Whether you try natural measures like getting enough exercise or opt for hormonal replacement therapy, boosting your estrogen levels may help your hair feel fuller again.

  • Check out your treatment options. From minoxidil to spironolactone, there are various effective hair loss treatments that can help kick start hair growth .

While losing hair is not a fun club to be part of, remember that you’re far from the only member. The right hair loss treatments may help reverse hair loss and restore your confidence (but we think you’re pretty either way). Start your hair consultation today if you’re interested in figuring out a regimen that’s right for you.

17 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

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