To a woman, her hair may be her crowning glory. However, according to statistics, over 85% of women will experience excessive hair shedding. If an average person loses between 50 and 100 strands per day, new mothers may shed as much as 400 hairs within the same time!
No wonder it can bother anyone. The good news is it is often temporary, and hair grower options like moringa oils and shampoos may promote the appearance of new strands more quickly.
But wouldn’t it be great too if you can understand what’s happening to you? Let’s break down the primary reason you’re shedding lots of hair.
Let’s Start with the Phases
Hair growth goes through four phases:
- Anagen (growth stage)
- Catagen (transitional stage)
- Telogen (resting stage)
- Exogen (falling or shedding stage)
The anagen phase describes the active state of hair growth. By the end of the year, a strand may grow up to six inches. This process can continue for years unless other factors such as genes or illnesses eventually stop the growing process.
For an average person, the anagen phase takes up to five years. Luckily, for those of Asian descent, it may last up to 7 years.
After the anagen phase is the catagen, hair grows more slowly and begins to separate from the bottom of its follicle, although it remains in place. This period can last up to ten days before it proceeds to the telogen phase.
Also known as the resting stage, the strands are still anchored to their follicles, but they already stop growing. This can last for three months, and then the hair begins to shed to give way for newer and hopefully healthier hair strands.
The Roles of Hormones
Many factors can impact hair growth, and these include hormones. One of these is testosterone, which both men and women produce. This encourages the development of hair strands by repairing damaged follicles.
With women, though, testosterone needs to be in limited amounts. Otherwise, they become prone to hirsutism or excessive hair growth. Not only can hair develop on the face and chest, as they do in men, but it can also be thick and, therefore, more noticeable.
To balance the testosterone hormone, the body produces two female hormones: estrogen and progesterone. The body converts a part of the androgen male hormone into estrogen, while progesterone reduces testosterone production.\
However, during pregnancy, the body produces a lot of these female hormones to sustain the baby’s development. Estrogen, for instance, enhances the formation of blood vessels and the transfer of nutrients. On the other hand, progesterone helps increase the size of the uterus to accommodate the growing fetus.
To illustrate the significant increase of these hormones, the normal level of estrogen is only between 30 and 400 pg/mL for premenopausal women. However, if they get pregnant, it rises to as much as 20,000 pg/mL and reaches its highest by the third trimester.
But these female hormones don’t only support the baby but also cause hair changes. Both can lengthen the anagen phase, so the hair keeps growing much longer than usual. They also provide some protection to the strands, so they’re less prone to breakage.
What Happens After Pregnancy?
The changes in hair length and texture are why many pregnant women often have glorious shiny hair—and they can keep it that way until three months after they give birth.
By around the fourth month, they may notice that their hair begins to fall in clumps. This is because hormones can fluctuate significantly.
As mentioned, during pregnancy, progesterone and estrogen levels soar. When a pregnancy ends, though, they begin to drop. But remember, the hair strands go through a telogen or resting phase. This is why new moms don’t lose a lot of hair immediately. As female hormones decline to normal levels, the final two phases of hair growth then speed up.
Note, however, that many other factors may slow down new hair development. Stress is one of them.
It can encourage the hair to remain in the resting phase. Thus, even if you’re shedding, you’re not growing new strands. High levels of stress can also affect the way the body produces hormones.
You may produce less estrogen or progesterone that, even if your hair strands grow, they are brittle and therefore break easily.
The bottom line is this: moms need not worry too much about hair shedding. Unless other underlying conditions may prevent the hair from developing, the strands will eventually grow back. Getting back your luscious locks won’t be a problem even after giving birth to a beautiful child.