Here's what you need to know about the risks of hair loss after going off birth control, according to experts.
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TikTok Hair Loss After Stopping Birth Control
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It's not exactly news that unwanted symptoms, such as heavier periods, acne, and mood swings may appear if you stop taking hormonal birth control after being on it for a while. But what about hair loss?

TikTok user Chancey Sessions documented her personal experience with dramatic hair loss that may have been a result of quitting her birth control regimen in a now-viral TikTok video, and the internet has questions. (Related: The Relationship Between Birth Control and Hair Loss)

"Birth control doesn't mess you up that bad…" wrote Sessions (seemingly sarcastically) in the text displayed on her TikTok video, which has amassed 9.4 million views and more than 14,000 comments. The brief clip features photos of Sessions' hair, including an image of her holding a clump of strands and another which shows large bald spots on her scalp. Sessions said she initially noticed some shedding after stopping birth control, but it continued to get worse with time and she "almost went bald" within a four-month period, she recently told Buzzfeed.

If you're one of the millions of people in the U.S. taking birth control pills, this video is likely a bit nerve-wracking, but before you panic, keep reading for expert insights on why a person might experience hair loss after stopping birth control, how common it is, and whether or not it's preventable.

Can stopping birth control cause hair loss?

Unfortunately, the short answer is yes. While no longer using hormonal birth control doesn't typically result in hair loss as dramatic as what Sessions showed in her video, increased shedding is a possibility, says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. Chief among the causes is the hormonal change that occurs when a person stops taking birth control. "Any physiologic or emotional shift can affect our bodies," notes Dr. Gohara. "And an increase or decrease [in hormones from birth control] can certainly shift the hair cycle toward shedding or growth depending on the scenario." (Related: The Birth Control Side Effects to Know for Each Type of Contraceptive)

Stress, whether situational or internal (e.g., your body going into panic mode after stopping birth control), is often the root cause of sudden hair loss, adds Jessica Shepherd, M.D., ob-gyn and chief medical officer at Verywell Health. "Hair loss that occurs after stopping birth control is usually known as telogen effluvium, which typically occurs after the body experiences high stress," she says. "The stress pushes follicles into a resting phase and can lead to the hair temporarily falling out."

Progestin is the hormone found in birth control that's typically to blame for hair loss, whether a person is starting or stopping birth control, adds Dr. Shepherd. "Progestin is a hormone that has androgenic activity, and androgens, specifically dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which are the hormones that make the hair enter the shedding phase and stay in this phase, ultimately causing birth control hair loss," she explains.

While hair loss can occur when a person stops using birth control, there are a few important points to note about Sessions' experience specifically. She told Buzzfeed that she believes being on birth control for many years and then stopping is what caused her extreme hair loss. But research hasn't found a relationship between the duration of birth control use and the likelihood of hair loss after discontinuing it, says Dr. Shepherd. Since posting her initial video, bloodwork and a biopsy revealed Sessions was dealing with alopecia areata, she explained in another TikTok video. This is noteworthy, because alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that results in patchy baldness. The condition can be triggered by stress, hormonal imbalance, and thyroid abnormalities, but not typically from starting or stopping birth control, according to Dr. Gohara. "Although birth control is not a common trigger [for alopecia areata], if the hormonal variation is significant, it could theoretically do so," she adds.

Can you prevent hair loss after stopping birth control?

Ultimately, the most important step you can take to prevent hair loss from going off of hormonal birth control is discussing making changes to your birth control and your options to help thwart potential hair loss with your health care provider beforehand. If you do experience hair loss after you stop using birth control, the earlier you address it, the better, according to Dr. Shepherd. However, before you can address it with treatments, you'll want to get to the root cause of the hair loss. If your hair loss is caused by stopping hormonal birth control, some things that might help with hair regrowth are taking supplements (after consulting with your doctor), focusing on eating a healthy diet, and minimizing stress when possible, say experts.

However, it's important (and reassuring) to keep in mind that hair loss, especially extreme or sudden hair loss, caused by stopping birth control is rare, and if it does happen, it's typically temporary. "Most of the time, this is not a cause for concern and should go away the longer you've been off the method of birth control you were using," says Dr. Shepherd. "Some people may actually experience the opposite and find their hair has grown more," she adds.

TLDR: Sessions' viral TikTok video calls attention to a rare side effect of going off of hormonal birth control, but there's no way to be certain if her alopecia areata diagnosis, stopping birth control, or a combination of things caused her excessive hair loss. Let this be your reminder to consult with your doctor for individualized guidance if you have concerns about a medication.