Why do women get hairier when they’re pregnant?

November 04, 2013 12:00 AM by

Everyone knows that pregnancy can do some weird things to your body, from changing your shoe size, to making your breasts bigger, to giving you acne. It can even make your skin change color and your gums bleed when you brush your teeth. But did you know that pregnancy can also affect your hair? It's not just the hair on your head, either, but the hair on your face, arms and legs, too. You may have heard that women get hairier when they're pregnant, and while this is often the case, it's not true for everyone. Here's what you need to know, whether you're a first time mother or a seasoned veteran.

What makes hair change?
Pregnancy hormones are what cause women's hair to change during pregnancy. Specifically, increased estrogen levels alter the natural hair cycle on your head. It can affect every woman differently, which is why some women experience thicker, shinier hair and some experience limper, thinner hair. Hormones can also change the texture of your hair, making it curly when it used to be straight or vice versa. It may also make it drier or greasier than it used to be. As for body hair, androgens are thought to make your hair grow faster, meaning you might find yourself having to shave, wax or pluck more often.

What actually happens?
The natural hair cycle involves a growth period, a resting period and a falling out period. Usually, 85 to 95 percent of your hair is in the growing stage, while 5 to 15 percent is in a resting stage. When the resting hairs fall out (most women lose about 100 hairs a day), new hairs start growing to take their place. During a pregnancy, however, estrogen can increase the length of time that your hair is in the growth stage. This means that less hair is falling out, often leaving you with thicker hair.

Will the hair stay that way?
Unfortunately for those who experience thicker hair during pregnancy, it doesn't stay like that forever. After you give birth, your hair cycle goes back to normal, so you may notice a lot of hair starting to fall out and your hair appearing thinner. But by the time your baby turns 1, your hair should be back to its normal thickness and texture.

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