PCOS & Hair loss

It has been a while since I posted on this blog, real life has a pesky way of distracting me. But as I washed out the oil mix from my hair tonight, I realized there is one blog post I should be posting, asap, for all of the women with PCOS experiencing hair thinning and hair loss. I wish I didn’t completely understand the excruciating psychological pain of hair loss, but alas, I do, and I send my sympathies to other cysters who experience it too.

My hair was always thick, healthy and wild. Every time it failed to become sleek and glamorous like tv commercials, I would curse my hair and threaten to shave it off. Of course, the threat was empty, and had I known that by the age of 27 my hair would thin to the point of threatening to go bald on the crown, and become so lifeless and thin, I would have spent my time rockin’ the crazy waves and loving it. But I didn’t, and here we are. female-hair-loss

My hair didn’t start thinning until roughly 2 years ago, and being so thick, I didn’t worry at all at first, I barely noticed. But as it gradually got thinner and I lost so much of my natural volume, I began to wonder what was happening. Then came the harsh wake up that it was worse than I thought; a trip to a new hair salon for a new style saw me leave afterward fighting back tears. As the incredibly insensitive and rather rough hairdresser played with my locks, she laughed and loudly proclaimed for hair that looks thick there’s “nothing there”. Of course there was hair, I wasn’t bald. But her loud announcement and consequent stares of other ladies made me want to shrink into the floor. Needless to say, I went home to google for answers, and never returned to the obnoxious woman who was lucky to keep her own hair after the mood she put me in.

Why was I losing my hair all of a sudden? The first thing I could think of was to enter “PCOS & hairloss” into google. And there it was; androgenic alopecia. Hair loss experienced by many PCOS sufferers is the result of excess testosterone, which means we are lucky enough to have male pattern hair loss. A quick google search on androgenic alopecia will give you all of the technical jargon and detailed explanations. But my main focus for this post is one little gem of natural wisdom that I am finding to be a great help.

Castor oil, coconut oil and lavender essential oil. Yes, it’s that simple.

3 times a week, I mix equal parts castor oil and coconut oil, enough to coat my scalp and hair from root to tip, and add a few drops of lavender essential oil. The coconut oil may need to be melted. Mix the 3 ingredients together, and evenly apply on the scalp, and work through the roots of your hair, massaging the mixture down to the tips. Once your hair is completely coated, loosely tie it up and leave the oil mask in for a minimum of 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water, and wash with a gentle shampoo and condition as normal.

What got me started on this technique was a suggestion somewhere that castor oil is fantastic for strengthening and thickening hair, and even has the ability to regrow hair previously lost. Then somewhere else I read basically the same sort of result can be found with coconut oil. So I figured, due to already having both on hand, and being unable to make a firm decision on which to try, why not mix the two, and add some lavender for the general healing and soothing properties, whilst getting a nice fragrance. I have to admit, I was a sceptic. I doubted this oily, sticky, annoyingly messy mixture would do anything other than make my hair impossible to wash clean. But after the first application, I noticed my hair already felt much better – still thin, still shedding, but softer, silkier, not so dry and brittle. After the first week, shedding decreased. After the second week, my hair was thicker, stronger and hardly shedding. And then… life got busy, I got lazy, and I stopped using the mixture, promising that I’d get back to it “any day now, sometime this week”… for 6 months.

Tonight, after brushing my hair and feeling how dangerously thin my hair is after months of wearing it up in a pony to avoid the whole issue, I chastised myself and immediately oiled up my locks again. I am using a volumizing shampoo and conditioner at the moment – not gentle, but I’m not perfect. After the oil mask, a good shampoo and condition, and allowing my hair to naturally dry, the thin, lifeless hair from the day is thicker, soft, silky and full.

I have absolutely nothing to gain from sharing this information – I have no products to peddle or money to make. This is just what I have discovered works to make my hair feel better, and look better, almost instantly. I am determined to keep it up regularly to see if the regrowth results actually happen, and I will update in the future whether it works on that front or not. Losing hair as a female is devastating, the thought of being bald and patchy terrifies me. Of all the symptoms of PCOS, I find this one the most degrading. So this is me putting my experience out there, and hopefully it helps someone else in the quest to fight this symptom.

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PCOS; The good, the bad and the … hairy?

Ok, time to settle in for possibly the most embarrassing post I will make on this blog; listing all of my totally depressing PCOS symptoms. On the internet. For the world to cringe at. YAY me!

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If you have PCOS you will probably relate to one or more of the symptoms I’ll list, oh god, I hope so – I can’t be the only one! Sadly, I know I am not. PCOS is often referred to as the thief of femininity, and that really does resonate soundly with me. Not only do I struggle with infertility, painful cramps, weight gain, but I also get to grow hair where a woman should never grow hair? FANTASTIC.

PCOS for me means;

Hair – lots of unwanted, soul crushing, confidence destroying hair. On my chin and above my lip. Sideburns. My chest (great cleavage but look, don’t touch!). My stomach. Lower back. Upper thighs. Toes. Fingers. Everywhere. Luckily, my hair is naturally light blonde, so most really isn’t noticeable, and whatever is gets removed to the point of obsession. But whether others notice or not is beside the point entirely; I can see it, I can feel it, and it really does make me feel like a monster some days. I cringe when my fiance runs hands over a spot I have neglected or experience a constant state of paranoia that he will think I am as ugly as I feel. He insists it doesn’t bother him, reassures me consistently that I am beautiful; which is great, but if you don’t feel it, you don’t believe it.
Weight gain – I swear, so many mornings I wake up and stare in shock at the mirror, grabbing some body part, and in a silent, frustrated discussion with the reflection ask “what?!! where the hell did this come from?!” Even when eating well and taking daily walks, this stubborn beast that goes by the name of “fat” insists on being close buddies, and smothers me. I can’t tell you what I currently weigh, as I have avoided the scales as a cat avoids water for months.
Painful cramps – during a period the cramps can get insane. But the ones that really hurt, are the ones that appear from nowhere, for no reason I know of, and are literally crippling. I mean the type that deny any relief whether you sit, stand, lay down, walk, swear incoherently or beg for mercy. They don’t happen regularly, but when they do happen, I feel like I have been smacked in the lower abdmonin with a sledge hammer, leaving a tender bruised feeling for a day or two after the episode. I have no idea what causes it.
Fatigue – and the word fatigue seems light and airy compared to the level of utter physical and mental exhaustion I feel often, even if I only woke up an hour ago. Some days are better than others, but the bad days; man, it is almost impossible to even form a thought properly. I usually end up laying down, where I can easily sleep right through for 10 hours solid. And still feel just as tired when I wake up. The opposite end is an ironic joke – I get insomnia episodes too, haha! If I am not exhausted and so tired I can’t function, I am wide awake, for days sometimes, and can’t settle down.
Hair loss (androgenic alopecia) – this is my most psychologically painful symptom. I always thought the hair in odd places was the worst that could happen to a woman; I was wrong. My previously thick, wavy, crazy hair has become so thin and lifeless that I have spent many nights crying quietly in the shower, watching more fall out. No bald spots yet, but some areas are dangerously thin.

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So, now for the good side effects of PCOS…. (crickets chirping)…. I know, I laughed too.

And there you have it. My most embarrassing list ever written. It is a real struggle most of the time to feel remotely pretty or attractive in any way, and I resent what PCOS has done to my body. One of the most frustrating things on earth is the judgement a woman gets when she is overweight, so many people automatically assume it is from poor diet and zero exercise, when in reality, women with PCOS work hard in these areas with little success in too many cases. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a woman by the size of her jeans.

Comment below and let me know what you experience, or if you relate to any of the above. Have you found any solutions? There is an idea for another post on another day perhaps.

Sheree xox