Hair products and good management techniques are the two main factors that most naturals look at to gain length. We do often talk to about having a healthy diet and exercising too but less attention is paid to reasons why hair may genuinely be growing slower than normal or shedding faster than it should. Here are 5 medical causes that could cause perturb hair growth cycles.

1. Taking Supplements that you do not need
There is a school of thought that if you take certain vitamin or mineral supplements, you can promote hair growth or thicken hair. Some people self prescribe larger than normal doses of these supplements. In actual fact, taking supplements in excess or those that you do not need may lead to hair loss (Clin Exp Dermatol, pp 396-404, 2002). If you truly believe you are lacking in vital minerals or vitamins, it is definitely worth having some blood work done before you start on a course of supplements.

2. Thyroid Check
If your thyroid is underactive, you are likely to suffer from increased hair shedding as the balance between the hair which should be growing (anagen phase) and hair that should be shedding (telogen phase) is disturbed (Arch Dermatol, pp 349-352, 1972). In essence, hair that should still be in the growth phase somehow switches to the shedding phase. It is not known scientifically why this happens. The observations, however, so far are that hair follicles do have attachment areas for thyroid hormones and for people with an underactive thyroid, supplementing with synthetic hormones leads to a rebalancing of the hairs’ anagen and telogen phase. So if you suspect an underactive thyroid, do have it checked out, it could improve your hair.

3. Iron Check

This is yet another case where there are more observations than explanations. The observation is that women who either have low iron but not anemia as well as those with anemia can experience increased hair loss. Similar to the underactive thyroid, this is due to hair that should be in the growth phase switching to the shedding phase (Clin Exp Dermatol, pp 396-404, 2002). Supplementing with iron allows restoration of the balance. However, hair loss in women with low iron or anemia is not universal, some women do not experience this. Additionally in some cases supplementation does not necessarily change the balance. Although the evidence is unclear, there is a link of a kind to iron supplementation improving hair quality for some women.

4. Hormone Check
Women produce a small amount of testosterone in addition to making larger quantities of estrogen. The balance between these two hormones can affect hair growth. Estrogens are known to play a role in hair growth and are part of the reason why in pregnancy the growth cycle of hair is elongated. For women, testosterone in higher than normal quantities can cause scalp hair to become thinner and shed more as well as promote thicker hair growth in typically male areas such as the chin and chest. If you have any problems with your menstrual cycle or if you notice that your hair is thinning and shedding more, do have a hormone check.

5. Eating Disorders
The primary reason hair grows is because we consume food. A diet that is low in protein will generally still allow your hair to grow although it may be more brittle. A diet that excludes protein can lead to hair breakage, hair loss and slow/no hair growth (Am J Clin Nutr, pp 1158-1165, 1967). There is a cultural stereotype that black women in general do not really suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia but this is just a stereotype. If either of these conditions affect you, do seek medical help.

Ladies have you dealt with any of these issues? Please share.

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51 Comments on "5 Medical Reasons For Slow/No Hair Growth"

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I’m trying to grow my dughters hair .I tried everything. She wants her hair hip length but now it is mid back length. All her friend hair is butt length. Help

Hannah Thomas

My hair has always been my pride and joy. I figured since it is pretty damn healthy, it could deal with some bleach damage. And I figured the master stylist who did all the color-corrections would know how much would be too much. I was wrong, and now I want to burst into tears every time I look at my hair or touch it. I just don’t know what to do. my hair has also NEVER been shorter than this and it breaks and falls out. What should i do to regrow hair?

Hello ladies, I am not a medical expert, Ive been suffering from alopecia areata for 8 years now and for the past 6 months i’ve seen results i havent seen since my first patch…I want to share my story and experience and what I did that ended up working for me in the end to give me the results i have now. First, anyone reading this is probably does alot of online research and looking for what works for others. UNDERSTAND THAT ALOPECIA AREATA IS A AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER!! That means that this is an internal problem. Topical treatments will only… Read more »
Nerida Nine

Ok interesting article, but where is the ‘sound’ advice to some of the questions? Anyone can post an article, but having some back up answers would be nice.


Please help me here I don’t know what is the cause of my hair staying at the same length near my neck a little past my shoulders I don’t like this length I prefer longer hair hate short my hair falls out some times I have been struggling trying to grow my hair every 6 to 8 weeks I get my trim what in the world does it take for my hair to grow either it stopped growing or grows slowly dont know what it takes for my hair to grow


Stop getting trims! Your hair grows from the root not tip so trims aren’t necessary for hair growth. Your hair will grow regardless of trims!


“Taking Supplements that you do not need” This is not necessarily true. Especially if you take water soluble supplements. Any excess would be flushed out of your system. It’s a very smart move to drink tons of water when taking various supplements to move the process along. Being in my late-50’s I know this for a fact.


Two of the journal reference sited are over 40+ (42 and 47 ) years old! Surely you could find current research to support your hypothesis. As someone with a scientific background, confirm with a medline search and quote current (within the last 7years preferably) research to support your hypothesis. You will be providing information that is more clinically relevant to your readers.


yes, i have dealt with all of them, caused by an underactive thyroid. Although i’m on medication i still have shedding, struggle with anemia (lack of iron) and hormonal imbalance. Hypothyroidism is a real struggle as it affects every cell in your body. I’m even suffering with acne which i’ve never had trouble with.

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Let’s not forget about pregnancy. I had two kids within 23 months of each other and now a year post baby two my hair is still shedding. I’ve been natural for going on 3/12- 4 years while my hair has never been this long before (a little past my should blades when pressed) its never been this thin either. Sigh, finally got length but lost the fullness.


Same thing happened to me. Continue to take your prenatal vitamins AFTER childbirth until your hormones adjusts back to normal (may possibly take 1-2 years) and especially if breast feeding! All necessary nutrients goes to your breast milk and your body uses whatever is left – your hair and nails gets anything the body doesn’t need, which many times is nothing, therefore shedding occurs.

Ugonna Wosu

great advice.

So I’ve been struggling with disordered eating for several years…I started starving myself on and off starting when I was eleven or twelve, and I began experiencing hair loss; I was diagnosed as iron-deficient anemic, but I didn’t do anything to improve my eating habits as I still had lots of thick hair and I wasn’t concerned with my appearance because I didn’t think I would ever be attractive anyway. My issues reached a peak at age 15/16 (the years are a blur, it’s hard to remember) when I was officially diagnosed with binge-purge type anorexia. I lost maybe half… Read more »

I am also a woman of colour with an eating disorder for 4 years. Mainly binge purge anorexia as well and I too have had my hair fall out! I actually shaved my head skin bald for a while because the hair loss was so bad. The hair does come but only through proper nutrition. I asked my doctors and they said hair is the last thing that is restored because it is not vital to the bidyt in terms of survival but it only comes back when one is completely symptom free. Hang in there though !


I’ve had my thyroid removed and have been having massive shedding for a very long time. So frustrating 🙁


Iron and Eating disorders!?!?!? well that explains ALOT…

I’m in the process of doing these checks now. I just turned in my samples for my cortisol levels, and also will be doing tests on my Vitamin B-12, D, TSH and T-4 levels. My hair has never grown beyond a certain length (less than shoulder when straight). I’ve had my hair natural for literally 5+ years, follow all the proper steps for naturals (finger combing, moisturizing but not over moisturizing, not over trimming, careful cleansing, etc.) and it still won’t grow beyond a certain point. My doctors thinks it’s undetected PCOS or an underactive thyroid because of a combination… Read more »

i need help!my hair has become very short.i used to have very long hair but i relaxed it.since then,my hair has lost strength.

paul tooley

this all about womans hair. what about the story of mens hair.please help.

Ryan Butner

Medically known as hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid is not usually serious. It is easily treated by taking hormone tablets to replace the hormones that your thyroid isn’t making.-.”*

My favorite internet site <


I am anemic and pregnant my hair is shedding more n more I’m surprised I even have the amount of hair on my head that I do, I should be bald by now.

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Marian Murray Saunders
Marian Murray Saunders
I am 69yrs old and my hair has always been thin and short. I cannot put chemicals in my hair because it starts falling out. My hair problem is genetic. My mother and sisters had very thin and soft hair. I am anemic so I take iron. I also take hair vitamin and biotin which seem to help. But age(hormones) , illness and meds also contribute to hair loss. As black women our hair tends to run dry and white women hair is oily. They need to wash their hair everyday but we need to limit how much we wash… Read more »
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I think this advice applies to all heads of hair blacck or white people!! Thing is a thyroid test can show normal range and not be, one should ask for an iodine deficiency test That is the BIG thing now..also if you are thyroid deficient DO NOT take Synthroid! Take Armour Thyroid because it is not synthetic and is from natural source.. I take biotin, silica and B vitamin it all helps but age is what causes hair to seem to stop growing and be dry. Estrogen replacement is too too scary try natural methods and stay far away from… Read more »

I just did the iodine test last week and my patch disappeared in 4.5 hours.


I have psoriasis, went for cortizone shots & a thyroid test which was negetive & still have bald spots & no hair. Will not color my hair & don’t know what else to do to get my hair back.


I have Lupus, low iron and thyroid issues and this is why and when my natural transition began…because of all the meds, and the disease my hair broke off and I have been natural every since. Its not a long and thick as before, but its ok…havent found my style or regimen yet…but trial and error I will…really want more thickness and length.


I also have Lupus and although I don’t have bald spots or problems with growing my hair, it’s definitely thinner than it used to be prior to the disease. I’ve also noticed my hairline is super fragile / thin and doesn’t seem to want to grow back no matter how much castor oil I massage into it! It’s so frustrating! But I will continue to nurture in hopes of retaining length and body. 🙂


The supplements for sure was once a problem to me … good thing about being unemployed though is that I can no longer afford them and that seems to make my hair quite happy. Also I have an iron deficiency which is being corrected with Trihemic-600 so that seems to help as well.

The Natural Haven

I hope you get a new job soon, but your response made me smile.


Thanks, I have some interviews coming up so I’m very hopeful that one (or maybe ALL of them) will materialise into work :))


I am facing this same dilemma, with fear in my heart! Without my supplements I get angry! You won’t like me when I’m angry (in my in my Bruce Banner voice!) I am terrified! Self diagnosed PMDD sufferer! Your comment made me giggle as well.


I also have an iron deficiency, what is Trihemic-600, where can I get it and have you seen any improvement in your health, and /or hair while taking it?


I got the Trihemic-600 from the pharmacy, and my hair doesn’t look so red at the ends anymore, my toenails are peeling, and my menstrual cramps are a bit more bearable which for me means that the OTC painkillers are actually working (most of the time, anyway).


Sorry my toenails are NOT peeling. I knew I forgot something, sorry, I didn’t edit before posting.


Nice post. Off topic but I’m new here. Has this blog always been focused on natural hair? I used to think it was for relaxed people but maybe that was Lhcf..


Lol did I really get thumbed down for asking an honest question? geesh.. Im natural btw nazi


I can’t really help you there, I only joined last year and it seemed to be all about natural hair. Really, someone thumbed you down … childish 🙁

The Natural Haven

I thumbed you up lol. Yes this site has always featured natural hair, pretty much the best there is for that purpose 🙂


Shut up
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Lmao! You look like an expired chocolate bar!


Yes, you are thinking of LHCF. That site is for all hair types (relaxed and natural) while this site is for natural hair. HTH.

I think my main issue is stress but I have delt with issues of 3 and 4, more 3 than 4 though. Now when comes to stress my hair will grow in white on several strands but once the stress subsides my hair seems to return to black is it possible for the other strands that it could result in slower than normal hair growth? I found out this year that my hair growth is only 3 inches and retention is 1 inch (that includes two trims, and estimated 1 inch of breakage) My question to this is how much… Read more »

Oops! Didn’t mean to reply to brinkyDinks.


I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid about 4 years ago. Among other things, my hair was extremely dry and thin. Because of it, I transitioned to being natural. My endocrinologist said it was because of my thyroid issues. Sadly, my hair still is not as thick as it once was and it is hard to maintain moisture in my hair.

i also have a thyroid disorder. i’ve had it now 17 years. ive gone from overactive to having radiation so im underactive and its tiresome. i shed a lot of hair. it can be very discouraging. i literally have a few bald spots. spots not whole circles. and finally a new endocrinologist who works to adjust the medicine i have to take. my doctor also runs tests on my vitamin levels and discusses with me the appropriate range for everything from vitamin D to iron. she also recommended a dermatologist who can provide shots in the scalp to help.

I have an underactive thyroid and I feel like my hair sheds A LOT!!! I also feel like it’s always dry no matter what. I just try and keep it moisturized best I can.