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sagremus
August 13th, 2013, 02:59 PM
Hello, I have a question for everyone about hair shedding and what is normal, and what is excessive.

I started to pay more attention to my hair and care for it better. I have been making a lot of life changes to be healthier recently, so 3-4 months ago I went off of my birth control that I have been on for almost 10 years and had a Mirena implanted (very low dose hormonal IUD).

Around 3-4 months ago I noticed that my hair seemed to be shedding quite a bit more. Now I'm not sure if this is just the first time I noticed it, or if it has been going on for a while and my decision to take better care of my hair (and switching medications) made me pay more attention to it. Somebody also told me that since I have longer hair that tends to snarl, I just notice the shed hairs more. Truth be told, I never paid attention to shed hairs before.

I am also concerned that switching my birth control has caused my hair to start falling out. I consulted with my doctor who said that switching hormones, especially from the high dose to the low dose as I did, can mimic a postpartum state in the body. She says that she typically doesn't see hair loss often with Mirena, but it's possible, and she expects it would last at least 6 months after the switch (I am about the 4 month mark).

Yesterday I combed my hair for the first time in a few days and I counted about 60 shed hairs. I lost maybe 100-150 more in the shower (it was 3-4 days since my last hair wash). It seems like each time I run my fingers through my hair, 1-3 hairs comes out. They also fall out when I pull out my pony tail holder or braid.

My hair is BSL and I have never had hair this long. Is this normal? My doctor said after 6 months I can go in for blood tests to make sure I don't have other health issues, but I'm worried I'll be bald by then!! There aren't any bald spots, and people around me say they haven't noticed a change in my hair thickness, but I'm pretty paranoid.

nobeltonya
August 13th, 2013, 03:06 PM
Normal shed is 50-150 a day. Especially if you stretch washes, shed hair.will become trapped in the length and come out when you wash so it appears to be more. Unless you notice thinning, I wouldn't worry about it. :) :disco:

jacqueline101
August 13th, 2013, 03:11 PM
I wouldn't worry unless you're going bald or have thinning hair.

sagremus
August 13th, 2013, 03:17 PM
If I don't comb my hair before the shower, a bunch falls out when I'm conditioning. It's heart-breaking. I run my hand through my hair and strands just slither out between all of my fingers, sometimes in groups of 5-10. It feels like it just keeps coming and coming out :( Eventually it stops, but then there's a mouse-sized hairball in the drain trap. Ugh.

Panth
August 13th, 2013, 03:34 PM
The usual reason hair falls out during conditioning is because the added slip from the conditioner enables all the hairs that have been shed but are still held in the mass of hair to finally slip out. If you normally comb before the shower, but stop doing this, then you would see more apparent "hair loss" with conditioning, as you are seeing already-shed hair that the comb would have drawn out as well as already-shed hair that would only slip out with conditioning.

(It is possible that certain conditioners can cause shedding, but this is much rarer and is usually related to a single product/ingredient. It is also generally only seen when applying the conditioner to the scalp, which is unnecessary anyway - conditioner should be applied to the length only, as the scalp generally recieves more than sufficient conditioning from sebum.)

Personally, I'd try not to freak out too much. Shedding is a very individual thing, so no one can tell you what is normal for *you* (though the numbers you mention sound within the normal range). Shedding can be provoked postpartum (this is because pregnancy prolongs the growth phase (anagen) and then after birth all the hairs that should have fallen out during pregnancy under normal anagen length suddenly shed, resulting in a big shed). As your doctor said, it is possible that coming off hormone-based birth control (or drastically lowering the systemic (i.e. whole-body) dose) could provoke a similar shed. Mirena might do this as (theoretically) it only doses the uterus, while pills dose the whole body via the bloodstream.

Another possibility is stress - either mental or physical (e.g. change in diet, increase in exercise, illness, etc.). Stress generally manifests in shedding a few weeks to about 3 months after the stressful event. This is because the stress stops the anagen (growth) phase in the hair, but the hair follicle then has to go through the catagen (transitional) phase (2-3 weeks) and the telogen (resting) phase (about 3 months) before the hair is physically shed from it. In cases of extreme stress, many hair follicles will prematurely undergo this transition, resulting in a larger shed and thinning. However, if the stress is stopped (e.g. recovery from illness) then the hair will usually grow back fine.

What I'd recommend is measuring your ponytail. Just make a ponytail somewhere where it gathers as much of your hair into it as possible. Measure just above the hairband with a dressmaker's tape or, if you haven't got one, get a piece of string, measure off the circumference with that, then measure your piece of string on a rigid ruler. Repeat the measurement. Try not to get obsessive - once every month is plenty regular enough. Try to ensure the ponytail is in the same place and grabbing the same amount of hair (e.g. layers, fringe, etc.) each time. By having a physical measurement, you will have a much better idea of whether or not you are losing thickness. You will also be more likely to get a doctor to take you seriously.

Personally, I think measuring the ponytail is a much better method than counting shed hairs. It averages out over your entire head and over your washing/haircare cycle. That way, the errors are reduced and you are much less likely to get freaked out over mis-measurement or the odd shed-heavy day which is more than likely balanced out.

Surinecet
August 13th, 2013, 03:34 PM
I was just wondering that myself, whether all the hair I'm shedding is normal. I came to the conclusion that I am noticing way more shed hairs because I don't use a brush anymore, and because I stretch washes. So now I can see them all in my hand, shower, and wide tooth comb, as opposed to them all getting trapped in the brush or washed in the shower. I believe it's the same amount, at least in my case. But I did slightly worry for a bit before I figured that out.

sagremus
August 13th, 2013, 03:52 PM
Thanks for the reassurance everyone. I do have a very stressful job Panth, and 3-4 months ago I changed specialties, so that may be what's happening too. I just measured the way you suggested. My ponytail without fringe is 4.5 inches at the nape of my neck. I guess I will measure this again next month.

I have very fine hair so I worry about loosing thickness/volume.

What you said makes sense to me too, Surinecet, and I suspect that's what's happening with me too.

cmdinoto
August 13th, 2013, 03:57 PM
I noticed that since I have been using various Pureology products my hair doesn't fall out as much as it used to. I use the Precious oils shampoo and conditioner, the pureology oil, the miricle filler, the essential hair repair and the heat protectant. The product line is so amazing and my brush has less hair and I have less hair lose in the shower.

jeanniet
August 13th, 2013, 04:10 PM
Do you know what your shed rate was before you starting taking care of your hair and paying more attention to it? If you have thick hair, what you're shedding now may be entirely normal for you and you just didn't notice it before. I could run my hands through my hair all day long, and I'd always come away with a few hairs. That's normal for me and it's always been that way; I have a lot of hair, so I shed a lot. For some people, it would probably be an alarming amount, but at my age (55) I know what's typical for me. If you noticed this apparent increased shed 3-4 months ago, and also changed your B/C 3-4 months ago, they're unlikely to be related because the hormone levels in your body don't change immediately. My guess is that you just started noticing your shed levels, and it seems to be quite a bit (and don't forget the longer your hair gets, the bigger that wad of hair in the shower looks), but it's not actually increased. I would monitor it for another month or so and see if it changes before getting too concerned.

Vrindi
August 13th, 2013, 05:59 PM
I feel like I've been shedding a ton of hair recently.

First, I'm stretching washes, and keeping it up most of the day, so more of it comes out at once vs. falling out all the time, or when I would brush it several times a day. Also, I notice that I shed more when I do scalp massages. Every hair has a follicle, so I'm thinking it was their time to go, and that means that many new hairs are ready to grow now. Also, it's summer, and I tend to shed more now anyway. I have not noticed my overall thickness changing. The thickness of my braid and pony circumference is the same, but it does seem like I'm shedding a lot more than usual. I'm not worried about it. The last thing I'll do is stress over it and make it worse. I know I'm healthier than I've ever been, so it's just a seasonal shed, and overall it doesn't look any different.

Another thing, at BCL, 1 shed hair looks like 3 or 4 used to, so a lot of what appears to be "more" shedding could easily just be longer hairs making it look like more hairs.

Panth
August 14th, 2013, 12:30 PM
Thanks for the reassurance everyone. I do have a very stressful job Panth, and 3-4 months ago I changed specialties, so that may be what's happening too. I just measured the way you suggested. My ponytail without fringe is 4.5 inches at the nape of my neck. I guess I will measure this again next month.

I have very fine hair so I worry about loosing thickness/volume.

What you said makes sense to me too, Surinecet, and I suspect that's what's happening with me too.

It could be the birth control. It could be the job. It could be something else entirely.

However, the main thing is to keep calm (don't stress even more!) and to monitor the situation. Also, a 4.5" ponytail circumference is actually quite thick, so even if you have shed a bit you are still way ahead of lots of people!

chen bao jun
August 14th, 2013, 07:07 PM
Yeah, 4.5 is thick.
Don't measure again for a few months and then see.
Some of us just shed like crazy. I don't know if its to do with having thick hair (mine is slightly thicker than yours, also without bangs counted in) but I've always shed unbelievable amounts. Seeing the giant hairballs following me around, my mom had always said, I should be bald--mouse sized is a good description. But I've always shed like that and I never get any thinner. In fact, I have been getting thicker since LHC methods. I wonder if at least some people with thick hair have more hair go into the shedding stage at the same time jsut because they HAVE more hair, and just shed like massive, scary looking amounts (at least, I'd be scared if this hadn't been going on all my life, but since it has, I don't worry. And its not the hairs being long in my case, either. My hair is barely BSL stretched).

sagremus
August 15th, 2013, 02:25 AM
Thanks everyone. I never considered my hair thick, because I have fine strands. But I guess it is. I have no idea if I shed this much before. When I was younger I remember my mom ripping a shower brush through my hair and having a big clumps of hair in it. However, I've been keeping my hair chin or shoulder length and have been growing it out for the first time since I was a kid. I haven't paid attention to shedding until recently, so I'm not sure if this is normal or not.

jeanniet
August 15th, 2013, 02:36 AM
I have fine hair, too. I never really understood that until recently, because I have so much of it, but you can have fine and thick hair at the same time. I'd just pay attention and see if it gets worse, before you worry too much about it, because it could be normal for you.

FWIW, while stress can cause excess shedding, it doesn't necessarily mean it will. I've had some incredibly stressful periods, including the suicide of a close family member, and stress didn't change my shed rate at all. The only times I have increased sheds is seasonally (heavy shed for about a month at the beginning of summer and a lighter one in the fall) and post-partum. So if you're stressed, do what you can to eat well and get enough rest, but don't panic that all your hair will fall out. That won't help your stress levels anyway!

omalley_cat
August 15th, 2013, 03:21 AM
Hi there!
My hair started to thin a bit when I had the mirena coil, and I've heard the same for other people. Progesterone (the hormone in the IUD) works through build up, so although there's only a small amount being released into your system through the Mirena, if you've been taking contraceptive pills containing progesterone before getting the coil fitted it could be that you're suffering with hormone build up.
I had exactly the same thing - my hair became visibly less volumous and healthy looking, I gained weight and suffered with spots. I spoke to my doc about it and she said the same as yours - that it was unlikely to be the coil - but whenever I googled side effects of excess progesterone I found so many symptoms I was suffering from. In the end I had it removed and all my symptoms went away - my skin cleared within a few weeks and I lost inches of weight. Gradually my hair thickened up again too.
I'd say your hair loss is probably due to the mirena. I now have the copper coil fitted... so far so good :-)
good luck with it all!
x
ps i think docs tend to play down the negative side effects of contraception to try to encourage you to be using something with an excellent success rate, ie the Mirena. Try to go with your instincts on it.

Panth
August 15th, 2013, 02:36 PM
Hi there!
My hair started to thin a bit when I had the mirena coil, and I've heard the same for other people. Progesterone (the hormone in the IUD) works through build up, so although there's only a small amount being released into your system through the Mirena, if you've been taking contraceptive pills containing progesterone before getting the coil fitted it could be that you're suffering with hormone build up.

<snip>

Sorry, but this is complete rubbish. Progesterone does not work through "build up". In fact, levonorgestrel (the progesterone found in the Mirena coil and many oral contraceptives) has a half life of about 36 hours (see right hand pane (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levonorgestrel)).

HollyG
August 15th, 2013, 02:39 PM
I've heard between 80-110 is normal.
I barely notice any shedding with me - only about 5 hairs each time i comb/brush

Leeloo
August 15th, 2013, 03:28 PM
I’ve heard that it’s about 100 hairs a day

ravenreed
August 15th, 2013, 03:33 PM
It varies for me a lot depending on what products I am using, how often I am manipulating my hair, and other mystical things that I haven't sorted out yet. I shed a lot more if I use shampoo on my scalp, oil my scalp, or when I dye my hair and have to scrub and wash a little more aggressively than I normally do. If I haven't been brushing as often as I normally do, which is several times a day, then I notice a huge amount of hair when I finally do brush.

meteor
August 15th, 2013, 03:44 PM
Yeah, 4.5 is thick.
Don't measure again for a few months and then see.
Some of us just shed like crazy. I don't know if its to do with having thick hair (mine is slightly thicker than yours, also without bangs counted in) but I've always shed unbelievable amounts. Seeing the giant hairballs following me around, my mom had always said, I should be bald--mouse sized is a good description. But I've always shed like that and I never get any thinner. In fact, I have been getting thicker since LHC methods. I wonder if at least some people with thick hair have more hair go into the shedding stage at the same time jsut because they HAVE more hair, and just shed like massive, scary looking amounts (at least, I'd be scared if this hadn't been going on all my life, but since it has, I don't worry. And its not the hairs being long in my case, either. My hair is barely BSL stretched).

I think you are absolutely right. The thicker your hair is, the more hair strands you should shed and the more new hairs should grow in their place. The overall percentage of shed hairs is something I would look at and also, what's normal shedding for you.
As a kid, every time I'd comb or brush, huge hairballs would be left behind, and my hair was very thick. I even had to explain what was going on to hairdressers, because they weren't used to so much hair coming out.

lapushka
August 15th, 2013, 03:45 PM
As long as it's a few strands here and there when you run your fingers through it, it's just *fine*. Chunks would be bad, but you're not losing chunks of hair, let's be honest. What you're describing sounds normal to me.

sagremus
August 15th, 2013, 06:09 PM
Thanks for all the reassurance everyone. As for the Mirena, I cannot switch to the copper IUD because I have dysmenorrhea and I have heard that it aggravates the condition. While on Mirena I have not gained weight but my skin has broken out horribly. The doctor said this is common with the Mirena as it does not contain estrogen, which is what helps clear up people's skin.

Panth
August 16th, 2013, 02:21 AM
Thanks for all the reassurance everyone. As for the Mirena, I cannot switch to the copper IUD because I have dysmenorrhea and I have heard that it aggravates the condition. While on Mirena I have not gained weight but my skin has broken out horribly. The doctor said this is common with the Mirena as it does not contain estrogen, which is what helps clear up people's skin.

Some of the smaller, more modern copper IUDs don't cause heavy bleeding. However, if you're in the US you'll only be able to get the Paraguard, which is an older, larger design and generally does cause heavy bleeding. There's a whole thread about IUDs in the Off Topic (Health & Beauty) section of the forum if you want to discuss about that.