It’s that time of the month again; the cramping, irritation, and mood swings. If you’re pregnant, it’s the weird cravings and morning sickness. That’s right ladies, we’re talking about two phenomenons that are as natural as the food you eat. Every woman’s body goes through the menstrual cycle and some of us will experience pregnancy (or already have!) Hence you might have wondered, “how do menstruation and pregnancy affect my hair?” Even if you've never been curious about the connection between hormones and hair, in this guide we are about to walk you through it.
We're not going to answer that question- at least not right away. First, we need to understand how menstruation and pregnancy work, and how they relate to our hormones. Then we’ll be able to understand the impact on our hair.
What is Menstruation?
Menstruation is the cycle that prepares the body for the possibility of pregnancy. The body prepares an egg to be fertilized by a sperm and prepares the uterus to support a fertilized egg. If the egg is fertilized, you become pregnant. If not, the uterine lining is shed along with the egg, and your body does it all over again...every...single…month. This cycle typically lasts about 28-31 days. Menstruation has 3 different stages, and each stage is marked by different hormones.
This next section is going to get a little technical as we walk you through the science of the menstrual cycle and all the hormones involved. Stick with us!
How Do Menstruation and Pregnancy Work?
The menstruation cycle begins with the follicular stage when you shed the endometrium lining of the uterus (womb). After the lining is shed, your body begins the preparation for the possibility of a fertilized egg by thickening the lining once again, and by triggering hormones that stimulate the growth of eggs.
Hormone reactions in the follicular stage: Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels increase. Estrogen and testosterone levels start out extremely low, but both peak by the end of this phase.
The next phase is the ovulatory phase, also known as ovulation. This is when you are the most likely to become pregnant. An egg is released from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes, where it may become fertilized by a sperm if present.
Hormone reactions in the ovulatory phase: Luteinizing hormone (LH) quickly peaks and then falls. Estrogen is at its peak at the beginning of this phase, but decreases after ovulation. Progesterone levels increase.
The last phase is the luteal phase. During this time the lining is thickened even more in preparation for the egg to be fertilized. If the egg is not fertilized by the end of this phase, the body prepares to shed the egg along with the uterine lining, returning to the follicular stage with menstrual bleeding. The luteal phase is when you are most likely to experience PMS, cramping, and low energy levels. The uterus also contracts to shed the lining, which is responsible for cramps (booooo!)
Hormone reactions in the luteal phase: Estrogen remains high during most of this phase, and progesterone peaks, but both hormones drop by the end of the phase if the egg is not fertilized. Prostaglandin is released at the end of this phase to dispel the uterine lining.
But wait! What if the egg becomes fertilized? Well congrats - you are now, my dear, pregnant! Your body will no longer throw tantrums once a month because it got what it wanted. (Although it will hate you even more now that it got what it wants. Crazy? Just a little.)
Hormones during pregnancy: Estrogen and Progesterone jump when you become pregnant and increase throughout pregnancy, eventually going through the roof in the third trimester, and plummeting after you give birth.
How Do These Hormones Affect My Hair?
You may have noticed that your hormones are constantly changing as you move through the different stages of the menstrual cycle. You’re probably familiar with how some of these hormones can impact your mood- but how do these hormones affect your hair?
- Let’s start with Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). From its name, you might expect this hormone to increase new hair follicles growth, but you’d be mistaken! This hormone has zero direct effect on your hair follicles or growth. However, it does prompt higher levels of estrogen. And estrogen is a different story...
- Estrogen decreases sebum levels, the natural oil that moisturizes your scalp and hair. While this can lead to dry hair, heightened levels of estrogen can also prevent hair loss and shedding.
- Testosterone increases levels of sebum, which can make your hair feel more oily.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) is not known to have any direct impact on your hair.
- Progesterone, which increases during the ovulatory phase and peaks in the luteal phase, causes an increase in sebum, which moisturizes and lubricates your hair.
- Finally, let’s talk about prostaglandin. This hormone doesn’t affect hair growth or hair loss, but it does increase sensitivity to pain.
How Do I Care For My Hair Throughout My Menstrual Cycle?
Now that all the science is done, We can finally answer your question! If you look at the carefully crafted table, you’ll see how the hormones produced during menstruation and pregnancy can affect your hair and what you can do to take your of your hair during these phases of your life.
Effect on your hair
What you can do
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) increases.
Estrogen starts low and increases.
You hair might feel dull and dry as increased estrogen decreases the sebum in your hair. However, this will be tempered by testosterone levels which increase sebum. Estrogen also prevents your hair from shedding
Make sure to moisturize your hair during this phase to prevent dryness! Shampoo less often than you would normally. Be sure to deep condition with NaturAll's Avocado Deep Conditioner to keep your hair nourished and moisturized.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)increases.
Progesterone allows for more sebum production, making hair less dry. Estrogen falls slightly, allowing more sebum production.
During this phase, continue to take care of your hair as usual. You may experience less dryness, but keep hair moisturized and oil your scalp. NaturAll's Avocado Kiwi Collection contains products to help you achieve this.
Estrogen levels hit rock bottom.
Progesterone is high.
Prostaglandin is released, increasing pain sensitivity.
Hair sheds as Estrogen drops. Increased levels of progesterone and decreased estrogen result in higher sebum production, making your hair feel more oily.
Expect your hair to be oily, so avoid excessive product buildup. Believe it or not, this is the perfect time to dye your hair, as there is less risk of drying out your hair! Your scalp may be tender, so decrease how much you manipulate your hair.
Estrogen and progesterone levels are extremely high.
Estrogen will cause thicker and fuller hair throughout pregnancy, because it prevents your hair from shedding. Estrogen and progesterone balance out to prevent your hair from getting too dry or oily.
Wash and go’s, twist-outs, afros, you name it! This is the time girl; your hair has probably never been this thick and luscious before. Enjoy it while you can!
Estrogen and progesterone plummet.
High levels of estrogen have kept your hair from falling out at a normal rate, so unfortunately, it’s time to say goodbye. Expect excessive hair loss. As your hormone levels plummet and readjust, you may experience fluctuating oiliness or dryness.
Don’t freak out! Postpartum hair loss is normal, although it isn’t fun. Keep your hair healthy with frequent deep conditioning treatments and stimulate growth of new follicles with NaturAll's JBCO Growth Serum. Also, look out for our Edge Control Black to fill in your edges in this season.
Everyone’s menstrual cycle and pregnancy experience is different so we encourage that you get to know your body. The best way to figure out what’s best for you is to track your cycle and notice any changes you may have with your hair. We hope this helps you in this process! Leave a comment if you have further insights or any comments on this topic!