For better or worse, our hair is often tied to our confidence. We're constantly bombarded with advertisements for the perfect hair products, and reminded that the perfect beach curl can make any day better. But what happens to our self-worth when we can't participate in a traditional ritual of femininity and confidence? One woman shared her struggle with identity after being diagnosed with PCOS.
“At age 24, my hair started thinning,” she wrote recently to the Community.
“By age 26, it got a lot worse, so I tried everything possible so feel normal. My doctors diagnosed me with Polycystic ovary syndrome. I was put back on birth control, and that was it. I’m now 28, and I started going to a dermatologist. I had my first steroid scalp injections done today. I go back in a little over a month to get the second round done, and I’m really hope everything works. Needless to say, this has been a really challenging part of my life for the last four years. No one other than my mom has seen what my hair looks like without my extensions for a while. It’s like my identity is up in the air,” she continued.
A few other FGB women reached out to offer support and say they hope the scalp injections work.
“Wow, thanks for sharing. Hair is something I think a lot of us take for granted. I think the steps you’re taking are great though. But also.. bald is beautiful!” one woman said.
“My mom has alopecia and has worn a wig since I was 10 years old. There are beautiful wigs and hair pieces available, but I know how it hurts her. Hair is a big part of a woman's identity. I'm praying the injections work!” another wrote.
“Hoping that the injections work. After losing my hair due to chemotherapy, I know first-hand how dealing with losing or thinning hair can ‘take over’ your life. In reaching out to others, you may find other options to treat as well - best of luck!” a third said.
More than 200,000 women are diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome each year in the United States. The chronic syndrome can cause weight gain, hair loss, irregular periods, skin tags, and more for women affected.
And women make up a surprising percentage of hair loss sufferers. Forty percent of women experience visible hair loss by the time they are 40.
One FGB woman responded to offer her own story with hair loss.
“Hi, I'm 35 and have been experiencing hair loss for about 18 months. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata last summer, and Rogaine and steroid injections really helped it grow back. Then, in January of this year my hair began shedding again because of hormonal issues. For a while, I thought about a topper (then can be really expensive, but look amazing!) But luckily, my hair has been growing back (but still shedding) with Rogaine, Spironolactone and birth control. If you have hormonal hair loss, those things really help (and can be given to you by a good derm). I also started on Zoloft because the loss was really affecting my emotional and mental well-being. So those are some things I have used to cope. Also, I found some wonderful female support on the Women's Hair Loss Project. Best of luck!”
Another woman who also suffers from PCOS offered her support.
“Hi! I too have PCOS and it has truly put me through an emotional rollercoaster, with less hair on my head and more on my chin/neck. I really just want you to know you are not alone, but also give advice with what is helping me. I changed my food intake to have less sugars. Hormone imbalance is a large part of PCOS and even though what you eat doesn't make it go away it will make it worse. I had tried an IUD, but I believe with my PCOS my body took all the hormones in a few months instead of spreading it out, so pills have been best. Also, my hair has seen some improvement since I have been making sure to use simple organic hair care products, washing my hair every other day, not using a hair dryer or straightener as often, and not putting my hair in braids or rubber bands as often. I hope my trials and tribulations can help you.”
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