Birth control can affect hair growth. Types with more estrogen may support hair growth, while types low in estrogen or high in androgens may increase hair loss.

The relationship between hormones and hair is complex. While some data suggest estrogen could promote hair growth, high quality studies have not fully tested this claim.

However, there is significant evidence of a relationship between androgens and hair loss, as well as excess body hair growth. Hormonal birth control can affect androgen levels.

Side effects vary from person to person, though, and not everyone gets them. People with hair loss concerns can speak with a doctor for advice on the best type of birth control for them.

Read on to learn more about birth control for hair growth.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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In theory, birth control may be able to help with hair growth. However, most studies so far have focused on the role of birth control in hair loss.

According to the American Hair Loss Association, high androgen birth control may contribute to hair loss. Androgens are male sex hormones, but females have them too.

Testosterone is one of the androgens that helps regulate hair growth. Testosterone converts to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can damage hair follicles.

Androgens may also shorten the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, which is when hair grows, or prolong the exogen phase, which is when hair falls out. Overall, this can result in more hair loss.

Conversely, estrogen may promote hair growth. The evidence for this claim is weaker than the evidence supporting a link between androgens and hair loss, though.

Birth control pills containing drospirenone may help improve hair growth. Drospirenone counteracts the effects of androgens, potentially reversing androgenic hair loss and prolonging the hair growth period.

Drospirenone can also help with symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, such as acne and excessive body hair growth.

The following name brands contain this ingredient:

  • Gianvi
  • Loryna
  • Vestura
  • Ocella
  • Syeda
  • Yasmin
  • Yaz
  • Nikki

There are also some pills with a low androgen index that may be less likely to cause hair loss, such as:

  • Desogen
  • Ortho-Cept
  • Ortho-Cyclen

Estrogen may affect hair growth, but its role is still unclear. However, scientists have noted that during menopause, when estrogen levels decline, females can experience female pattern baldness. This suggests estrogen levels are important to the growth cycle.

In contrast, states of higher estrogen, such as during pregnancy, correlate with more hair growth. Higher estrogen may also mean lower levels of androgens, which may reduce their impact on hair loss.

However, the data on estrogen is controversial and less clear than the data on androgens. It is also worth noting that high estrogen levels can have their own side effects, and not everyone can take birth control pills that contain it.

Birth control that contains more androgens may shorten the hair growth phase and damage the hair follicles. In some people, this results in hair loss.

Pills that have higher levels of androgens include:

  • Triphasil/Tri-Levien
  • Nordette
  • Lo/Ovral
  • Ovral
  • Loestrin 1/20
  • Loestrin 1.5/30
  • Ovrette

Other forms of birth control that may increase androgens include:

When birth control is the sole cause of hair loss, the hair should grow back after a person stops using it or switches to another method. However, this may take time.

Birth control that causes hair loss does so by shortening the hair growth phase, resulting in shorter, thinner hair. It also increases the hair loss phase, causing more hair to fall out.

For the hair to return to its usual thickness, a person may have to wait for the thinner hair to fall out and for new, thicker hair to grow back in its place.

It is also worth noting that stopping a hormonal medication can also result in some temporary changes to hair growth. This should improve when a person adjusts, but this could take weeks or months.

Many factors can influence hair loss in addition to birth control. Treating it effectively begins with identifying the cause. This could include:

A doctor can help narrow down what might be causing hair loss and recommend treatments.

Potential treatments for hair loss include:

Some people use hair growth supplements such as biotin. Anecdotal reports suggest this may have benefits, although a 2017 review notes the scientific evidence for this is limited.

Taking good care of the remaining hair is also important. Doing so can prevent breakage and damage that may further thin the hair. It may help to try:

  • using a gentle shampoo
  • conditioning after every shampoo
  • wrapping wet hair in a towel to absorb water and reduce drying times
  • using detangling products or leave-in conditioner to make the hair easier to brush
  • brushing the hair sparingly, using a special detangling brush if possible
  • avoiding heat styling
  • avoiding hairstyles that put tension on the hair, such as ponytails, tight braids, or buns
  • avoiding chemical treatments, such as dyes, perms, or hair relaxers
  • stopping smoking, if relevant

Birth control can play a role in hair loss and may also help with hair growth in some cases. However, this depends on the underlying cause and how each person responds to their specific type of birth control.

Birth control with a high androgen index may worsen hair loss. This includes several types of pills, as well as the implant and injection. Birth control that contains estrogen, low androgens, or drospirenone may help improve hair growth in some people.

Hair loss can be distressing, especially when the loss is significant or sudden. A doctor can help rule out underlying medical conditions and may suggest a range of treatments to help it grow back.