Women account for approximately 40 percent
of all hair loss sufferers in the United States.
There is an important link between a woman's
hair and her identity. For many women, hair
loss changes their self-image and is a difficult
adjustment both mentally and emotionally.
When I originally wrote The Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook
(Lexi-Comp, 1999) I was astounded to learn that oral
contraceptives deplete more nutrients than any other commonly
prescribed class of drugs. This prompted me to write The Pill
Problem (2013) which instructs women on how to prevent the
side effects from oral contraceptives.
According to the American Hair Loss Association (yes,
there really is such an organization), women who have a family
history of hair loss are at a much greater risk of experiencing hair
loss from taking oral contraceptives. In this article, I am going
to address the nutrient depletions caused by oral contraceptive
that could cause or contribute to women's hair loss.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, both
oral contraceptives and low thyroid function (hypothyroidism)
are common causes of hair loss in women.1 Many health
professionals do not realize that there is a connection between
these two causes.
The amino acid tyrosine is one of the nutrient depletions
caused by oral contraceptives.2 Tyrosine is an amino acid that
is required for production of the thyroid hormones. Hence oral
contraceptive induced tyrosine depletion can lead to under
production of thyroid hormones. This can lead to hypothyroidism,
which has hair loss as one of its symptoms.
Selenium is also depleted by oral contraceptives.3 Selenium
is a trace mineral that is required for enzymes that convert
thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3).4 This means that selenium
plays an important role in controlling thyroid metabolism. Thus,
selenium deficiency can result in hypothyroidism, which has hair
loss as one of its many symptoms.
Zinc is another nutrient that is depleted by oral contraceptives.
Zinc deficiency can contribute to female hair loss in two ways.
First, zinc is required for the production of collagen and keratin which are proteins that play critical roles in the structure of hair
follicles and in hair growth. Zinc is also involved in the synthesis
and mode of action of thyroid hormones.5
Every day hair is exposed to a wide variety of harmful
agents that are damaging to human hair. Things like ultraviolet
radiation from the sun and environmental toxins and pollutants
can all generate free radicals that damage hair and can cause or
contribute to hair loss. On the other hand, the role of antioxidant
nutrients is to neutralize free radicals, thereby preventing or
reducing damage to all parts of the body, including hair.6
Oral contraceptives have been documented to deplete the
following antioxidant nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium,
zinc and coenzyme Q10. A deficiency of any one of these
antioxidant nutrients will result in an increased production
of free radicals, which can damage DNA and destroy cells,
including hair follicles.
Beyond hair loss, nutrient depletions caused by oral
contraceptives can cause many additional health problems
such as blood clots, birth defects, weakened immune system,
heart attacks, depression, sleep problems, and various sexual
side effects, to name a few. My book The Pill Problem discusses
all of the side effects from oral contraceptives and offers women
information on how to prevent and/or correct these problems.
The Pill Problem is available in paperback or as an e-book at
naturalpharmacist.net or on Amazon.com.
A Safe Alternative to Hormone-Based Birth Control
In closing, I want to announce a relatively new form of
contraception for women that is a vaginal cream which is all natural,
safe and 100 percent effective. The product, which
is named Smart Women's Choice (SWC), was developed by
Francoise Farron, PhD. Dr. Farron, a Harvard biochemist (now retired),
originally presented SWC to me in 2015. After examining the evidence at that time, I
realized that Smart Women's Choice was a good contraception
option for women and I wrote an article about it which I posted
on my blog in October, 2015. At that time, the product did not
gain much acceptance with health professionals due to a lack of
scientific studies to document its safety and effectiveness.
In July 2017, Dr. Farron contacted me with exciting new
information regarding Smart Women's Choice. An independent
lab has conducted a test and verified that Smart Women's
Choice is indeed 100 percent effective at immobilizing sperm.
SWC works by causing sperm to agglutinate, which means to
clump or stick together.
Also, Dr. Farron reported that to date, over 1,300 women
have been using Smart Women's Choice without a single
incidence of failure. This is impressive since all forms of
contraception ranging from condoms to oral contraceptives
and everything in between have a failure rate. Smart
Women's Choice is a natural, hormone-free
form of contraception for women that is safe and 100 percent
effective. You can view the video of an independent lab test which demonstrates the efficacy of SWC
as it immobilizes sperm on www.smartwomenschoice.com.
- American Academy of Dermatology WEB site: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/hair-loss.
- Effect of oral contraceptives on tryptophan and tyrosine availability: evidence for a possible contribution to mental depression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7266825.
- Fallah S. et al. Effect of contraceptive pill on the selenium and zinc status of healthy subjects. Contraception 2009 July;80(1):40–3.
- Negro R. Selenium and thyroid autoimmunity. Biologics. 2008 june;2(2):265–73.
- Arthur JR., Beckett GJ. Thyroid function. British Medical Bulletin 1999; 55 (No. 3): 658– 68.
- Trueb RM. Oxidative Stress in Aging of Hair. Int J Trichology. 2009 Jan-Jun;1(1):6 –14.