More than just a monthly annoyance: Periods and hair loss

Periods and hair loss – it doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? Enduring the monthly onslaught of the menstrual cycle, with its rollercoaster hormonal fluctuations, the dizzying mood swings, the headaches, the leg cramps or worse still the restless legs, the overwhelming need that some of us experience to eat chocolate and sleep, and the excessive oil production on our skin and scalp, is bad enough.

Coupled with a blood loss that, for some can lead to iron deficiency with a whole other set of health problems, it can be a monthly disaster waiting to happen.

Iron deficiency

When you do not have enough iron in your body you become deficient. Heavy periods can cause iron deficiency anaemia. Tell-tale signs of iron deficiency anaemia include weakness, dizziness, headaches, and breathlessness.

Basically, with insufficient iron, less oxygen is circulating in your body. Oxygen is vital at even the most apparently insignificant, cellular level. If your hair follicles aren’t getting enough oxygen, they just won’t grow.

Long term impact of periods and hair loss

A woman who becomes anaemic on a monthly basis, over a period of years, may notice the effects on her hair. It becomes thinner over the whole area of her scalp, and it may not even grow beyond a certain length – ever wonder how some women have luscious long hair, and yours just isn’t and never has been? It may be your period to blame.

Your hair may grow in brittle, and break easily because it hasn’t received the nutrients it needs at a follicular level when it is just starting to grow.

What can you do about it?

Eating more iron-rich foods is always going to be good for you – lentils, spinach, beef, nuts will give your diet a few extra milligrams of iron for the day – but if you are pregnant, or your periods are particularly heavy, iron supplements may be necessary. Take them with orange juice – the vitamin C will help with absorption.

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