Metformin and Hair Loss – Are They Related?

Is Hair Loss a Side Effect of Metformin?

Although Metformin has a few potential side effects, some of which are quite considerable, it is very unlikely that hair loss would be one of them. According to lab tests conducted prior to metformin’s approval as a drug by FDA, hair loss was not found to be a common side effect of metformin.

Hair loss is likely probable to occur in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) who are taking Metformin, though it is not caused by taking Metformin but by the disorder itself.

In the case of diabetes, a lot of diabetic patients report minimal to moderate to sometimes severe hair loss, and a lot of them are on metformin. Although that still doesn’t mean that metformin is the direct cause, it can very well be an indirect cause.

When a drug is just being developed, multiple lab experiments are often held to examine its potential adverse effects. However, often it is after it is approved and more and more people take the drug long-term, that it is possible to discover more side effects. 

Thus, it’s not always possible to confidently assert that a specific effect is not caused by a medicine, even though the side effect was not found during the tests.

If you notice a change in your hair growth while on metformin, do consult your doctor. Your medical practitioner will have a few options to offer you depending on how grave your hair loss is. If the symptoms keep bothering you and your doctor confirms that Metformin is at the root, he or she might prescribe you with another medication for your treatment.

Why metformin can cause hair loss

Metformin is known to hinder mineral and nutrient absorption in the human body. It often leads to depletion of various important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, which by itself can cause a whole range of unpleasant symptoms and conditions. Hair loss may very well be one of them.

Two nutrients, in particular, are very beneficial for maintaining good hair health.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been proven to positively affect the growth of hair follicles and support the health of your hair throughout its life. You can be deficient in Vitamin D if you live in a northern climate and do not have a regular sun exposure. In this case, you can supplement vitamin D for better health of your hair.


According to one study, low levels of iron may inhibit an enzyme that is vitally important for hair health. You may have low iron and not be aware of it whether you are on metformin or not. Women are particularly at risk of low iron or even anaemia.

If you are frequently cold, tired, weak, have pale skin and tremor in your limbs, cold hands, and feet, you might be low on iron.  Iron is vitally important for many different functions of your body, not just your hair health. Consult with your doctor.

They might advise you to do some tests to see your iron levels and prescribe you a supplement. If you are on metformin, it is especially important to supplement iron (and other minerals and vitamins) because of the ability of metformin to block proper mineral absorption, even if you get enough iron with your food.

Other vitamins and nutrients that are important for optimal hair health are:

Biotin (Vitamin H)  – a vitamin that helps strengthen the protein structure in the hair
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Flax Seed Oil
Folic Acid

Some of these you can easily add to your system by supplementing without many risks. (Such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Flax Seed and Folic Acid.) With some others, a bit more caution is required. Do not start supplementing Selenium or Zinc without first consulting a professional.

Another possibility is that you are experiencing a so-called psychological hair loss. This is because you might have been stressed out of the past while, dealing with your disease and medications, and adjusting to the new lifestyle. Try not to panic if you notice signs of hair loss.

For one, if it is psychological and stress-related, you won’t lose much hair. The conditions will very likely stabilise in a few weeks. Also, the more you stress, the worse it will be. If you learn to relax and keep stress at bay, you might notice your hair state improve.

Of course, it’s understandable that hair loss can cause a lot of stress by itself, both for male and female patients. If you have been watching your hair for a while and haven’t noticed any improvement, it might be time to consult with your doctor. You don’t want your difficulties with your hair lead to anxiety and lost self-confidence, or worse, depression.

Treatments are available to help deal with hair loss. Whether your original diagnosis was diabetes or PCOS, see your doctor and ask what alternative is best for you in terms of supporting your hair health.