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Hair Loss During Pregnancy: Why It Happens and What to Do

Sara Harcharik Perkins, MD

Reviewed by Sara Harcharik Perkins, MD

Written by Sheryl George

Published 09/02/2020

Updated 01/26/2024

Ahh — it’s a…hairball?! While pregnancy can be super exciting, some of the side effects — not so much. Just when you’re ready to throw in the towel, you’ll become a parent, and all the bad parts of pregnancy (yes, plural) will be forgotten. 

Like morning sickness and constant peeing, hair loss may be a concern when you’re expecting. With all the increasingly uncomfortable symptoms, can’t you at least keep your mane?

We have good news: Hair loss during pregnancy is pretty rare. (But postpartum hair loss — that’s another story).

In this article, we’ll dive into what causes hair loss during pregnancy and offer tips for getting treatment if you experience hair loss while pregnant.

Hair loss during pregnancy is not common, TBH — at least, no more common than hair loss among women, in general.

In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, out of 400 pregnant women, 92 experienced hair loss at some point during pregnancy.

As a matter of fact, it’s more likely that pregnancy will make your hair fuller, not thinner. This is because the growth phase of the lifecycle of hair (known as the anagen phase) is longer for pregnant women, so you shed fewer hairs.

But there could be a few culprits responsible for hair loss during pregnancy. Let’s dive into some of the more common causes of hair loss.

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Hormonal Changes 

Lots of rapid hormonal changes happen during pregnancy, which could cause telogen effluvium.

This type of hair loss happens about three months after a triggering event, like surgery or a major illness. It usually lasts for about six months, then stops on its own. If you’re shedding lots of white bulb hairs, it could be a sign of telogen effluvium.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions like nutritional deficiencies and thyroid problems can lead to hair loss. Here’s what to know.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency can be a major factor in your hair health. A nutritional deficiency is known to influence both hair growth and hair structure.

And when you’re pregnant, there can be some really odd cravings or intense nausea (especially in the first trimester) that may prevent you from eating a balanced diet. Iron deficiency is the leading deficiency globally, and iron deficiency anemia has been linked to hair loss.

A biotin deficiency is another potential contributor to thinning or brittle hair. Have your healthcare provider run a blood test to see if you’re meeting the necessary levels for all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends supplementing with other nutrients like zinc, vitamin C and vitamin E. But check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements, especially during pregnancy.

Thyroid Problems

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen are two pregnancy-related hormones that can affect thyroid hormone levels. HCG can weakly stimulate the thyroid and estrogen can increase total thyroid hormone levels, though the “free”, or active, level stays the same. This can sometimes make it hard to diagnose a thyroid disorder, but it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re noticing hair loss.

It could be a symptom of a thyroid issue. In one study on people diagnosed with alopecia areata, abnormal thyroid hormone function was found in 24 percent of participants. It’s safe to assume a thyroid disease (like hypothyroidism) may affect your hair growth (or lack thereof).

Medication

Hair loss could also be caused by medication. If you’ve started any new medications (which can be highly likely when you’re pregnant), some drugs may trigger hair loss. 

Telogen effluvium hair loss typically occurs two to four months after treatment, but anagen effluvium can happen within days or weeks of usage. Discuss your symptoms and side effects with your healthcare provider, and never abruptly stop any medication without discussing it with your doctor first.

Hair Styling

If you’re a fan of tight braids, buns or ponytails, your styling patterns may be what’s causing your thinning. These tight hairstyles can lead to a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia due to the constant pulling force and tension on the hair follicles.

Switching to looser styles might help reverse this type of hair loss.

Stress

It’s true: Stress can lead to hair fall-out, as it’s a trigger for telogen effluvium. Having a baby can be stressful, so it’s not far-fetched to think your new situation could lead to telogen effluvium hair loss.

Think your stress levels might be out of whack? Learn more about stress and hair loss in our comprehensive guide.

When it comes to hair loss during pregnancy, the good news is it’s likely not permanent hair loss. You’ll probably experience regrowth, but it’s really dependent on the root cause. 

Addressing the cause of hair loss can help you reverse it. By your baby’s first birthday, excessive hair shedding will be a distant memory.

For example, if you’ve been experiencing stress-related hair loss, practicing meditation may help you during stressful moments. Because who knew buying a baby stroller could be so confusing?

Want to know about more potential root causes? Read our guide on hair loss in women for the full picture.

Your body undergoes lots of changes during pregnancy, but rest assured that most of the symptoms will eventually go away.

While hair loss is never a fun club to be a part of, there are some things you can do to help get your membership revoked. However, you’ll need to hold off on hair loss treatments until you’re postpartum (and, depending on the medication, until you’re no longer breastfeeding).

Here’s what might help in the meantime: 

  • Eat healthy for two. While it’s tempting to load up on ice cream, try to maintain a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. These natural plant compounds help protect the hair follicle and encourage healthy hair growth. As noted, you want to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.

  • Take your vitamins. Supplementing with a hair vitamin might be a good bet, but speak with your dermatologist or healthcare provider to make sure it doesn’t overlap with your prenatal vitamin. See our guide for more tips on how to get thicker hair.

  • Give your strands a little TLC. Take it easy on hot tools, aggressive styling, harsh hair care and chemical treatments. Being gentle will help keep your hair healthy and strong.

  • Take a chill pill. Finding ways to lower stress is key, whether it’s yoga, exercise, a mid-day dance party or talking to a therapist. If life feels hard to manage, our online mental health services can help you get a better handle on things. One benefit of online therapy is that you don’t have to deal with any waiting rooms.

Feel like your hair loss took an unexpected nosedive? Learn more about sudden hair loss in our blog.

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Pregnancy can be a beautiful (albeit complicated) experience. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider, as hair loss can often be a sign of bigger health issues like a nutritional deficiency or thyroid dysfunction. Don’t just ignore it — it’s definitely worth bringing up to your OB/GYN or healthcare provider.

  • If hair loss persists after pregnancy, there are science-backed hair loss treatments you can try to encourage new hair. Bookmark our guide to postpartum hair loss if you want to learn about hair loss after pregnancy.

  • Keep your stress under control. If parenting teaches new moms one thing, it’s that things don’t often go as planned. But learning ways to lower your stress can be helpful right now — and later too.

Want to speak with a healthcare provider about your hair loss? You can start a hair consultation with Hers today.

If you want to dig a little deeper, read our guide to female pattern hair loss — which is often the most common cause of hair thinning.

9 Sources

  1. Akkoca, A.N., Ozdemir, T.Z., Kurt, R., Bulbul, Sen, B., Yengil, E., Karatepe, C., Karapınar, O.S., Ozer, C. (2014, October 30) The Physiological Changes in Pregnancy and their Distribution According to Trimester. Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Retrieved from https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.955.6374&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  2. Almohanna, H., Ahmed, A., Tsatalis, J., & Tosti, A. (2018, December 13). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
  3. Hair Loss During Pregnancy. (n.d.). American Pregnancy Association. Retrieved from https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/hair-loss-during-pregnancy/
  4. Thyroid Disease & Pregnancy - NIDDK. (n.d.). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved June 22, 2023, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/pregnancy-thyroid-disease#hypothyroidism
  5. Amichai, B., Lyakhovitsky, A., & Amichai, B. (2015, May). Increased prevalence of thyroid disorders in patients with new onset alopecia areata. PubMed. Retrieved June 22, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25303421/
  6. Tosi, A., Misciali, C., Piraccini, B. M., Peluso, A. M., & Bardazzi, F. (1994, April). Drug-induced hair loss and hair growth. Incidence, management and avoidance. PubMed. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8018303/
  7. Pulickal, J. K., & Kaliyadan, F. (2022, August 8). Traction Alopecia - StatPearls. NCBI. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470434/
  8. Malkud, S. (2015, September 1). Telogen Effluvium: A Review - PMC. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606321/
  9. Gizlenti S, Ekmekci TR. The changes in the hair cycle during gestation and the post-partum period. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. (2014 July). Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23682615/
Editorial Standards

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. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

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.

Sara Harcharik Perkins, MD

Sara Harcharik Perkins, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine. She is the director of the Teledermatology Program, as well as the Associate Program Director of the Yale Dermatology Residency Training Program. Her research focuses on telemedicine and medical education. Her practice includes general medical dermatology, high-risk skin cancer, and procedural dermatology.

Dr. Perkins completed her undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania and obtained her medical degree at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She completed her medical internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by residency training in dermatology at Yale University, after which she joined the faculty.

Dr. Perkins has been a member of the Hims & Hers Medical Advisory Board since 2018. Her commentary has been featured in NBC News, Real Simple, The Cut, and Yahoo, among others.

Publications:

  • Ahmad, M., Christensen, S. R., & Perkins, S. H. (2023). The impact of COVID-19 on the dermatologic care of nonmelanoma skin cancers among solid organ transplant recipients. JAAD international, 13, 98–99. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10518328/

  • Ahmad, M., & Perkins, S. H. (2023). Learning dermatology in medical school: analysis of dermatology topics tested in popular question banks. Clinical and experimental dermatology, 48(4), 361–363. https://academic.oup.com/ced/article-abstract/48/4/361/6869515?redirectedFrom=fulltext&login=false

  • Belzer, A., Leasure, A. C., Cohen, J. M., & Perkins, S. H. (2023). The association of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma with solid organ transplantation: a cross-sectional study of the All Of Us Research Program. International journal of dermatology, 62(10), e564–e566. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijd.16700

  • Ahmad, M., Marson, J. W., Litchman, G. H., Perkins, S. H., & Rigel, D. S. (2022). Usage and perceptions of teledermatology in 2021: a survey of dermatologists. International journal of dermatology, 61(7), e235–e237. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijd.16209

  • Asabor, E. N., Bunick, C. G., Cohen, J. M., & Perkins, S. H. (2021). Patient and physician perspectives on teledermatology at an academic dermatology department amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 84(1), 158–161. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7491373/

  • Belzer, A., Olamiju, B., Antaya, R. J., Odell, I. D., Bia, M., Perkins, S. H., & Cohen, J. M. (2021). A novel medical student initiative to enhance provision of teledermatology in a resident continuity clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study. International journal of dermatology, 60(1), 128–129. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7753449/

  • Cohen, J. M., Bunick, C. G., & Perkins, S. H. (2020). The new normal: An approach to optimizing and combining in-person and telemedicine visits to maximize patient care. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 83(5), e361–e362. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7316470/

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