Can Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) Be Cured?
In 30 seconds…
Male pattern baldness (MPB) affects men of all ages and, understandably, can make a real impact on the self-confidence and mental health of those living with it.
Although many men feel like balding is a sad sign of middle agedness and a decline of their once virile selves, male pattern baldness can actually start at any age from late teens – with research suggesting 20% of men in their 20s and 30% in their 30s will suffer with some degree of male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones. While not necessarily a direct result of having a bald father, the causes of male pattern baldness are hereditary.
Treatments called Finasteride and Minoxidil are available to combat male pattern baldness, and while “cured” is a strong word, the signs of hair loss can be greatly slowed, stopped, and sometimes reversed, with the right treatment plan.
Going bald can be a tough problem to get your head around. While some men may embrace the naked head, many will want to do anything in their power to stop the process and retain their luscious locks. If that sounds like you – we’re here to help.
Many see balding as part of the natural aging process, but really, there is no need to let nature decide your fate. Male pattern baldness is a widespread issue. After all, 50% of men over 50 will suffer from MPB, but many men aren’t aware of the hair loss treatment options available online, with no need for awkward conversations with your doctor or pharmacist.
And while no one here at Manual is claiming to have a magic cure, “can male pattern baldness be cured?” is a common question we hear – and there’s definitely ways that we can help.
What is Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness (or MPB as we’ll refer to it) is the term given to the specific type of hair loss that affects the hair on men’s heads. As the name suggests, it happens in very defined patterns.
Sometimes a receding hairline – noticeable due to a more defined “widow’s peak” or “M” shape on the forehead – will steadily progress backwards across the scalp, leaving bare skin in its wake. Other men will experience MPB starting with a receding hairline, followed by balding at the crown at the back of the head, then an overall thinning, leading to complete baldness. MPB starts at the temples, as the hairs on this part of the head are more susceptible to the hormonal causes of male pattern baldness.
In medical terms, MPB can also be called Androgenetic Alopecia – and it affects many millions of men worldwide. Despite the fact that MPB is so common, and an American study suggested bald men are sometimes perceived as more attractive, there is still a surprising stigma attached with hair loss which can be tough to live through, especially at a younger age.
The mental and emotional load of suffering from, or trying to hide, MPB can be heavy. We know. Thankfully, treatments are now available, and support from people like us can guide you through what’s happening and how best to tackle the problem.
What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?
It makes it easier to understand MPB when you consider that your hairs go through 3 distinct phases; growth, transition and rest.
Individual hairs may grow for anywhere between 2-6 years before falling out, the longer the growth period, the longer the hair will grow. The transition phase lasts approximately 2 weeks and allows the follicles (the root of each hair in your head) to renew, before resting for around 1-4 months before the growth phase starts again.
In men suffering from MPB, the growth phase shortens and the resting phase lengthens. Hairs which do regrow, are thinner, weaker and more brittle, so are quicker to fall out. The balance of new growth is negative compared to the rate of hair loss.
Male pattern baldness is caused by two key interlinking factors; your hormones, specifically a high level of one called Dihydrotestosterone (or DHT), and your sensitivity towards it, which is determined by your genetics. Your vulnerability to MPB is also influenced by the expression of DHT receptors on your scalp.
A Little Thing Called DHT
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a male sex hormone called an androgen, and it’s the active form of testosterone – everyone’s heard of that one, right?! It controls many of your typical male characteristics, such as a deep voice, increased muscle mass and yep, you’ve guessed it… hair.
Enter the equally scientific sounding enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase (or 5-AR). This enzyme converts regular testosterone into the much more powerful DHT.
DHT can be found in hair follicles and if your levels of 5-AR are higher than usual, more DHT will be stored there, which, in turn, shrinks the follicles. This makes the growth phase shorten and eventually the follicle will stop producing hairs.
Genetic tendency. Thanks Dad (or Mum)
Your genes affect the way androgens (like DHT) are activated so can play a fundamental part in a man’s tendency towards MPB. As we know, DHT is the catalyst for hair loss, so if you have a particular sensitivity towards it, which is a hereditary trait, you’re more likely to suffer from male pattern baldness.
If your dad has gone through MPB, it’s likely you will follow suit, although not all sons of bald fathers will lose their hair. And it may not be all his fault – German research suggests that the tendency is carried through the maternal X chromosome, so male pattern baldness in your maternal grandfather is actually the one to watch. That said, there are differing opinions on this – the science is still hotly debated.
Whoever’s to blame, male pattern baldness can be treated, so if this sets alarm bells ringing, keep calm and keep reading…
There are two main treatments for male pattern baldness, and although “cured” is a difficult term to corroborate, MPB can be stopped and, in some cases, reversed. Most men will see a drastic improvement when they adopt the right treatment plan. However, their MPB isn’t necessarily cured – it’s just being well managed.
Along with the aforementioned causes of male pattern baldness, environmental factors such as stress and obesity can also play a part in hair loss, so, not only for the health of your hair, but your entire body, it’s important to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Especially if you want MPB treatments to work.
The first, and often most effective, treatment is called Finasteride. Finasteride is a one-a-day tablet which blocks the activity of the 5-AR enzyme, boosting your follicle’s hair growth potential. Finasteride increases the length of your hair’s growth phase and makes the transitional phase less frequent. This builds up a better hair growth to hair loss ratio, boosting the appearance of your mane. Finasteride works to balance hair growth across the scalp, so because MPB affects the hairs on the temples first, this is often where the new growth will be most prominent.
Finasteride is an FDA-approved medicine for hair loss, meaning it has performed effectively in official clinical trials, but it will require patience. No medicine will make new hair appear on your head overnight (and don’t believe the claims of anything saying it will), so consider the length of your hair’s normal growth cycle and be prepared for it to take 12+ months before you see any noticeable difference.
If you stick with it, your MPB may well be tackled head-on. Excuse the pun.
The alternative treatment is called Minoxidil, and most people will have heard of this one under its brand name, Regaine. Minoxidil is a topical treatment – a liquid spray, that you rub into your scalp twice a day. It works by boosting blood flow to the scalp, which promotes healthy hair growth and awakens your hair follicles to come out of the resting phase and into the growth phase. This treatment is particularly effective for those men experiencing MPB at the crown of the head, or in conjunction with Finasteride as an all over treatment plan.
A Cure in the Future?
While both of these treatments can work to stop hair loss, there is also hope that in the future, male pattern baldness can be cured. A drug called Cyclosporin A, which was originally produced as an immuno-suppressant to help donor organ recipients, was found to have the positive side effect of boosting hair growth of those taking it. And while taking immuno-suppressants as a healthy man isn’t going to be a good idea, scientists are working on a way to make a version of the drug purely as a hair growth treatment. So, perhaps, there are exciting times ahead for those with MPB.
If you think you are suffering from male pattern baldness, chatting with one of our accredited clinicians is the right thing to do. Manual treatment packages can easily be ordered online without any need for awkward conversations, and delivered – discreetly – to your door.