Hair on my chinny chin chin, but my head, not so much.
February 25, 2011 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Why is my hair falling out? I stopped breastfeeding my 2 year old almost 6 months ago. Can it be related to that? I've noticed the hair loss for the past month or two. (I think it's all growing back as chin hair. Sigh.) Sorry, long details to come.

I stopped breastfeeding my baby at the end of September, about a month and a half after her 2nd birthday. I already went through the expected hair loss that you get after you give birth. That stopped and I now have lots of short baby hair to prove it. Now, for the past couple of months, it seems to be starting over. Whenever I wash my hair, I have at least a big handful of hair in the drain and the brush. I'm starting to be able to see more of my scalp at my part. (I do have a LOT of curly hair to start with, so it's hard for other people to tell.) It seems a little late to be caused by quitting nursing, but that's the only thing I can think of that's a major recent change. I didn't notice this happening with my other kids, but they all stopped nursing a little past their first birthday, so maybe I didn't notice since it was much closer to the initial just-had-a-baby-hair loss.

I have also noticed recently that I do have more hair on my chin than I used to. This is a gradual change, so I really have no idea of the timeline. There's always been a bit, now it seems like there's a good bit more. Related? Normal because I'm getting older? Blame all of the above on being overweight? Or are the two related and both some kind of hormonal problem? The hair is coarse and black and mostly in a patch on the right side under my jaw, plus a bit on my chin and jawline. The rest of my hair is also dark, but not this dark. This is embarrassing, even anonymously, but I've noticed that I also have much thinner pubic hair than when I was young.

Many many details, in case they help, since this is anonymous. I am 39, 5' 4", 190 lbs. I don't really have any health problems other than very slightly high blood pressure (135/85 is about the worst it's ever been. I'm trying to control it with diet and exercise.) I had very heavy periods for a while, but so far a recent endometrial ablation has helped with that a lot.) I had a physical with blood tests last August and my thyroid and everything else were fine. I'd imagine all this can't be PCOS or something, because then I wouldn't have gotten pregnant 4 times so easily. I need to lose a lot of weight, obviously, but have been watching my diet and exercising more. I've lost almost 20 pounds in the last couple of years on and off a low carb diet + walking and some jogging but it's been hard and slow going. I do low-carb because I had gestational diabetes with all of my pregnancies and my doctor recommended that. My blood sugar is fine now, as far as I know. I used to lose weight much much faster whenever I would stop eating carbs. I guess it works better when you're 29! I don't take any medicine at all, except for a multi-vitamin sometimes when I remember.

Anyway, I think I need to go back to my doctor and tell her about all of this, but which doctor? Go to my regular primary care physician or go to my gynecologist? Or if doesn't seem related to breastfeeding should I go to an endocrinologist? I'm in the US, but have insurance. My insurance is crappy, though, so I thought I'd put this on askme to see which type of doctor I should go to first. I am rather horrified at the thought of explaining this to one doctor, much less several! I have been putting off calling the doctor and even asking this question because I keep deciding that this is all normal because I'm getting older and I'm being a hypochondriac.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It could be PCOS or Metabolic X syndrome. High BP, overweight, abnormal hair growth, hair loss - all of those things scream hormones! to me. I would ask around for a good endocrinologist as they are the ones who could interpret all of the relevant tests. I would also ask for a two hour blood glucose AND insulin test because A) a surprising number of women remain diabetic even after they give birth and B) insulin resistance can cause elevated testosterone levels which would give you the hair loss/ hair growth.

Good Luck! MeMail if you'd like a recommendation in the south Forida area.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:34 PM on February 25, 2011

Try a dermatologist?

I can recommend Nioxin shampoo if you can find it for getting your hair back, incidentally. (I had mine fall out for six months after having pneumonia.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:42 PM on February 25, 2011

PCOS CAN cause infertility but doesn't ALWAYS. Thinning head-hair, extra chin-hair, your simple sugar/carb-related weight history, and vunerability to gestational diabetes do sound like PCOS.

However, I think you need to tick two boxes out of these three for a diagnosis: 1) lack of menstruation, 2) wonky hormones, 3) poly-cystic ovaries. Those cysts would have been picked up on pregnancy ultrasounds if they were there in the past--I don't know, possibly you've developed them in the last 2 years. Or maybe that's not it at all.

How up on women's health is your primary care physician? If s/he seems well informed, I'd go there first. If not, maybe straight to an endocrinologist. (If you do indeed have PCOS, a gynaecologist would probably refer you there eventually anyway.)

Anyway, IANAD, but IAAPWPCOS (I am a person with PCOS)... just saying, from what I know about it, don't rule it out yet. Let your doctor do that (after some testing).
posted by equivocator at 5:59 PM on February 25, 2011

FWIW, my ovaries became pretty cyst free during both of my spontaneous pregnancies yet I am very, VERY definitely PCOS. Most GYNs are very lackadaisical about treating hormone imbalances and tend to want to stick you on BCPs. Endocrinologists like to just stick you on Glucophage. BUT, if you are lucky enough to find a GOOD endo who will work to get your hormones balanced then life is good. At least that's my experience. It took me 5 GYNs and 4 ENDOs before I found someone who would treat the whole me.

I guess what I mean to say, OP, is don't give up on finding great care and a solution for your issues. It is hard sometimes to find that right doctor, but it is SO worth it when you do. Whatever your final answer is, I hope you're able to find it soon!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:44 PM on February 25, 2011

I have no advice for you, but I will mention that after the birth of my second child, my chin hair went berserk. A GP told me that it's a common thing after a second child, something to do with hormones. I have no idea if that's true or not, but 9 years later, I still need to pluck regularly. (And I'd like to thank my deity-of-choice that despite being a redhead, the chin hair is very pale blonde, only noticeable to me.)

And pubic hair thins naturally as you age. Sources: assisting at an aged care home, and conversation with my older (female) relatives.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 7:50 PM on February 25, 2011

My hair started falling out recently and my doctor said that it typically happens 6 to 8 months after whatever-it-was-that-caused it. Apparently the falling out means that that follicle is regrowing and the new hair is pushing the old one out. I have no idea why my hair is falling out but it does seem to have tapered off and I can presumably expect new growth soon.
posted by fshgrl at 9:05 PM on February 25, 2011

Hair cells are fast-growing. Usually all your hair cells are on different cycles of growth, death, falling out. During pregnancy, all your hair cells tend to go into the growth phase because your body is full of Grow! hormones, so then after pregnancy, many strands of hair die and fall out at once. I think you've just hit another cycle. The hair on your chin is likely caused by lack of estrogen, and will go away, only to return in menopause.
posted by theora55 at 5:36 AM on February 26, 2011

Go and see your doctor. It does sound an awful lot like PCOS, but it might be some other hormonal or systemic problem, and the only way to find out is to go through the tests. Go get the tests done, and don't let them dismiss you.

I had wicked hair loss just like you describe. "It's like when your hair falls out after you have a baby, except I didn't." My baby at that point was three years old, and hadn't been nursing for about a year. I did not see a doctor for it for a long time. As the months passed, I got more and more symptoms that pointed toward a thyroid problem, including the severe menstrual irregularities that finally convinced me it wasn't my imagination.

I strongly suspected a thyroid problem, but in my case, it turned out to be a wicked vitamin D deficiency, probably caused by a gluten intolerance. (We're still investigating.)

The length of my hair is still about half its original thickness now, but I have this super-exciting halo of frizz from my batch of new hairs about two inches long that presumably started growing after I gave up gluten and started taking prescription D in October or so.
posted by Andrhia at 6:16 AM on February 26, 2011

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