Oral/Hormonal Contraceptives

While using a low androgen index hormonal birth control can reduce a woman’s chances of triggering female pattern hair loss, it is essential to be aware that even these lower androgen alternatives have been linked to triggering the condition. Since its FDA approval in 1960, oral contraceptives have become one of the most popular forms of birth control used today, with millions of women being prescribed the pill each year in the country.

The “pill” works by suppressing ovulation through the combined actions of estrogen and progestin hormones, or in some cases, progestin alone. However, for women who are predisposed to hormonal-related hair loss or are hypersensitive to hormonal changes in their bodies, hair loss can occur to varying degrees while on the pill or shortly after discontinuing its use.

Recognizing that oral contraceptives are, for the most part, a safe and effective form of birth control, the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA) also acknowledges their other health benefits for some women. Nevertheless, it is crucial, especially for women with a family history of hair loss, to be informed about the potential adverse effects of birth control pills on normal hair growth.

To minimize the risk of hair loss, the AHLA recommends that women interested in using oral contraceptives for contraception opt for low-androgen index birth control pills. However, for those with a strong predisposition for genetic hair loss in their family, the AHLA advises considering non-hormonal forms of birth control.

Below is a list of birth control pills ranked from lowest to highest androgen index:

  • Desogen
  • Ortho-Cept
  • Ortho-Cyclen
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen
  • Micronor
  • Nor-Q D
  • Ovcon-35
  • Brevicon/Modicon
  • Ortho Norvum 7/7/7
  • Ortho Novum 10-11
  • Tri-Norinyl
  • Norinyl and Ortho 1/35
  • Demulen 1/35
  • Triphasil/Tri-Levien
  • Nordette
  • Lo/Ovral
  • Ovrette
  • Ovral
  • Loestrin1/20
  • Loestrin 1.5/30

It’s essential to remember that any medication or therapy that alters a woman’s hormones, including contraceptives, can potentially trigger hair loss in individuals.

Apart from traditional oral contraceptives, there are other hormonal birth control methods that have the potential to cause or exacerbate hair loss:

Progestin Implants

Small rods, like Norplant, are surgically implanted under the skin (usually on the upper arm), releasing a continuous dose of progestin to prevent ovulation.


An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic inserted into the uterus to provide birth control. The three types of IUDs that use the hormone progestin include Mirena, Skyla, and Liletta. Skyla is the smallest among the progestin IUDs.

Hormone Injections

Progestin injections, such as Depo-Provera, are administered into the muscles of the upper arm or buttocks, preventing ovulation.

Vaginal Ring

The flexible vaginal ring (NuvaRing), approximately 2 inches in diameter, is inserted into the vagina, releasing progestin and estrogen.

Skin Patch

The skin patch, like Ortho Evra, is applied to the shoulder, buttocks, or other locations, continually releasing progestin and estrogen.

When considering any form of hormonal birth control, it’s crucial for women to discuss the potential side effects, including hair loss, with their healthcare providers to make an informed decision.

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