Hormones and Hair Loss in Men
In 30 Seconds
Check your crown and hairline for signs of thinning. The earlier you spot any problems, the easier it is to do something about them.
Male hair loss is usually due to androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness), which is predominantly caused by genetic factors. Genetic susceptibility to this condition can be inherited from either or both parents.
Male pattern baldness is caused by a complex combination of genetic factors and hormones.
DHT is more potent than testosterone. It acts on hair follicles and causes the growth phase of hair follicles to shorten. The result? Hairs are shorter and thinner.
Good men deserve great hair. If your thatch is looking less thick and windswept than it once was (or than you’d like), it’s time to look for some solutions. The search for follicle-fuelling wonder cures is on, but what about looking at the, ahem, root of the problem. Could your hormones really be to blame (or thank) for the state of your barnet?
First, check your crown and hairline for signs of thinning. The earlier you spot any problems, the easier it is to do something about them. Every strand looking good? Do your best to keep things that way with some simple tips such as getting enough sleep and eating a protein-rich diet.
Check out our guide to hormones and hair loss.
Hormones and Hair Loss: The Facts
- Male hair loss is usually due to androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness), which is predominantly caused by genetic factors. Genetic susceptibility to this condition can be inherited from either or both parents.1
- Male pattern baldness occurs due to the effect of testosterone by-product androgen receptors, that are genetically influenced. This changes the hair growth cycle at the follicle.
- According to stats, a whopping 81% of men do not seek help for this.2
- After hair loss, the bad news is that your hair won’t grow back on its own. The good news? All is not lost (literally). Your hair can be treated with drugs or plasma injections to encourage growth. Many men also opt for hair transplants.
After hair loss, the bad news is that your hair won’t grow back on its own. The good news? All is not lost (literally). Your hair can be treated with drugs or plasma injections to encourage growth. Many men also opt for hair transplants.
The Science Part
Finding more hair in the plug hole or on your pillow? Noticing less on your head? Male pattern baldness is caused by a complex combination of genetic factors and hormones.3
“The amount of different hormones one makes is considered to be caused by multiple genes acting in coordination,” explains Dr Earim Chaudry. Testosterone is the primary hormonal player in male baldness.
“Most testosterone is bound to proteins such as sex-hormone binding globulin protein (SHBG), and therefore is inactive. Testosterone that is not bound to proteins – ‘free testosterone’ – is able to act on the body and is metabolized into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (5a reductase),” says Dr Chaudry.
“To prevent hair loss, you want to reduce DHT acting on hair follicles,” Dr Chaudry explains. “Some biochemical indicators of male baldness include a high density of androgen receptors and elevated levels of 5a reductase.”
Did you know? DHT is a powerful male sex hormone that’s also responsible for forming male genitalia during pregnancy. And while DHT can cause your hair follicles to shrink and eventually die, it is thought to actually cause hair growth in other areas of your body. Yes, that’s right. The same hormone that’s to thank for your bald patch is also the reason for your chest, back and beard hair!6
Studies have shown the androgen receptor plays a role in male baldness by affecting the cell division at the hair follicle through a complex interplay of proteins.7 How does this happen? Well, the density of androgen receptors are largely determined by genetics.8 While genetically there’s not a lot you can do, there are solutions to take you from forehead to full head. So try not to blame your parents!
Some Interesting Info
- Balding will generally increase as the population ages.9
- Hair loss usually starts from the front of the scalp near the forehead.10 Hence the ‘receding hairline’ panic that we all get.
- If you’re Korean and not Caucasian, you’re less likely to suffer from hair loss.11
- Indian men are more likely to be affected by male pattern baldness than Chinese men, according to stats.12
- Medical treatments may help. Finasteride is a 5α-reductase inhibitor and an antiandrogen. It works by decreasing the production of DHT in certain parts of the body like the prostate gland and the scalp. It can decrease DHT levels in the blood by up to 70%.13
- Minoxidil, originally prescribed for hypertension, causes hair to grow as a side effect. It’s widely used in treating male pattern baldness.14
- Plasma injections may help get your thatch back to its optimum condition. Platelet rich plasma contains growth factors from excess platelets. According to studies, it can reduce hair loss and potentially aid in regrowing hair lost to male pattern baldness.15
- Hair transplantation is another option. It is effective in improving the appearance, but the hair is not actually grown from your scalp. Instead, it’s attached to the follicles, similar to a weave.16