Your hair is an inevitable part of your identity. So naturally, when someone goes through hair loss, it’s a tough situation for them to deal with. The causes of hair loss can be many, including diet, hormonal changes, medication, and radiation, to name a few. So if you are facing hair loss, it would always be a smart thing to find out the root cause of the same, which helps you to undergo the right treatment. Superficial treatments would be of no help in the long run.
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As per studies, the hormone prolactin, also known as the PRL, can have an active role in your hair loss. This hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland located in your brain, plays an active role in helping women produce milk after childbirth. Although the specific function of prolactin when it comes to men’s reproduction is not known, it is said to play an essential role for both female and male reproduction.
So what is the link between prolactin and hair loss? Several studies have linked hair loss to Hyperprolactinemia, which is a condition in which a person has higher than normal levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood. This hair loss includes male pattern baldness or what is known as androgenetic alopecia. A study conducted in Germany was significant proof to the same, which indicated Hyperprolactinemia as a cause for hair loss along with irregular menstrual bleeding and acne. Not only men, but various other studies have linked high levels of prolactin to female pattern baldness as well.
Prolactin acts by increasing the receptors of the luteinizing hormones(LH), which are the cells responsible for producing testosterone, also known as the male sex hormone. This increase in levels of testosterone is linked to androgenetic alopecia. Also, this affects both men and women since testosterone is found in both the testicles and the ovaries, although the levels do vary.
There were studies conducted on the human scalp. It was found that when a human scalp was treated with high levels of prolactin- more than 18mg/ml in men and 29mg/ml in females, it was found that the hairs had moved more prematurely into the catagen phase resulting in blood supply being cut off and subsequent hair loss.
So now that we know that there is a strong connection between increased levels of prolactin and hair loss, let’s see what the factors that lead to an increase in levels of prolactin are:
- Prolactinoma is a type of tumor that develops in the pituitary gland. This non-cancerous tumor leads to increased secretions of prolactin.
- Hypothyroidism, which leads to an increase in the hormone TRH (Thyrotropin- Releasing Hormone), stimulates the secretion of prolactin.
- Overuse of certain depressants like the SSRIs ( Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), or tricyclic depressants and depressants like Benzodiazepines, also leads to an increase in prolactin levels.
- An increase in the hormone Oxytocin, when is produced more during pregnancy and lactation, leads to a rise in prolactin.
- Chronic anxiety syndrome or any other mental disorder can also lead to more secretion of prolactin.
So in case you are suffering from hair loss and think it might be due to high prolactin levels, it would always be advisable to visit your doctor who would help you to ascertain the same. The conventional known treatments for high prolactin levels are medications like Parlodel and Cycloset, which help the brain produce dopamine to control the high prolactin levels.
Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP