Have you ever stopped to wonder why your hair is a different texture than it was when you were a child? Or perhaps why one day it seems like your hair is falling out by the fistful and the next overgrowing? While many factors affect the health and texture of your hair (think humidity, stress-levels, chemical treatments, the sun), it’s your hormones that actually have a lot to do with it.
“Hormone levels can affect the quality and the quantity of hair,” says Miami dermatologist Janice Lima-Maribona, MD. “The texture of hair is directly related by hormonal issues that relate to thyroid as well as estrogen and testosterone levels,” she explains and that’s why “hair can be brittle, lusterless and slow growing,” during certain times of your life.
While your hair texture might not change on a month-to-month basis due to hormonal fluctuations of your cycle, there are certain life events that can cause a dramatic difference.
Taking hormonal birth control, for instance, changes some women’s hair. “When we take birth control pills our bodies think that we are pregnant. We do not ovulate and the uterus lining is built up; getting ready for a fertilized egg to implant and start growing. Usually “the pill” makes our hair luscious, shiny and abundant. When we stop taking it, we may see a sudden loss of hair and a slow down of growth, as well as a decrease in the quality of the hair shaft,” she says.
Dr. Lima-Maribona also says menopause changes hair. “Lack or decrease of hormones is like a lack of fertilizer to a plant. The decreased hormonal state will also affect the quality and the quantity of hair.”
Basically, the environment in which hair grows well and in good health is usually one of nutritional abundance and balance, as well as during a balanced hormonal state. A good way to increase your estrogen levels when you do hit menopause is through a diet packed with plant sources of phytoestrogen that can be found in nuts and seeds, and berries rich in flavonoids like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and pomegranates. It’s also good to eat sources of plant protein such as those in soy products like soymilk, tofu and edamame.