Hormones, Baldness and DHT

Guides ● January 2019

In 30 Seconds

  • Our hormones could be to blame for hair loss.
  • Testosterone gets converted into DHT, which in turn gets absorbed into the oil glands of your hair follicles. This causes your hairs to shrink and die. Which is basically the process of male pattern baldness.
  • There are two pharmaceutical options to help you tackle the problem but they both have some possible side effects.

The Problem

Losing some up top? Hair not quite the full, thick picture of shampoo-ad glory that it once was? Man, we feel you. When it comes to hair loss we’re all in the same boat. All men suffer from hair loss at some point or another – but it happens to some of us earlier than others.1

Annoyingly, our hormones could be to blame2

Here’s the science part:

  • Each hair strand on your head grows for around 2-6 years on average. It then reaches a resting stage. It stays there for several months and then falls out. The cycle is repeated when the new follicles begin to grow.3
  • Male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss.4 It occurs due to a persistent miniaturization of the affected hair follicles. This results in thinning –  and subsequently shedding of the hairs. Not fun.
  • How does this happen? Well, according to the experts,5 testosterone gets converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) an  androgen, which then forms part of an enzyme complex. Bet you wish you’d paid attention in Year 9 Biology now, huh?
  • This DHT enzyme complex gets absorbed into the oil glands of your hair follicles. It then forms a protein in the hair glands, making the hair follicles shrink. This strips them of their nutrient supply too.6
  • The result? The hair follicle dies, leading the hair to fall out.
  • DHT basically de-regulates the balance between hair loss and hair growth. So you may be finding more in the plug hole than on top of your head.
  • Did you know that androgen-associated hormones play it both ways? They stimulate beard and body hair growth but suppress scalp hair growth.7  
  • What are androgens? Good question. Androgens are hormones derived from cholesterol.8 Generally, us men have more of them than women do.
  • According to research, while there are numerous genes that play a role in how often and how much of your hair falls out, only the AR androgen gene is known to cause hair loss.9

The Solution

There’s good news! Certain medical advances may help pause, delay or actually promote hair growth. The takeaway? Either way, there’s no point worrying. Whether you choose to pop a pill to hopefully plump up your mane, or embrace the inherent sexiness that is the bald man, it’s good to know all the facts.

Pharma Options

  • There are two pharmaceuticals approved to help tackle the problem of hair loss. These are Minoxidil and Finasteride.10
  • Finasteride works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
  • Minoxidil was originally created to treat hypertension.11 Side effects include an increase in hair shedding after withdrawal from the treatment.12
  • There’s research to suggest that treatments that work by blocking DHT, can cause side effects in some patients. 13
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