How Hormones Impact Male Pattern Baldness
If you are experiencing thinning hair, you aren’t alone. Around 50 million men in the United States are dealing with androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness. While this condition is common, there is still some mystery surrounding the exact causes of thinning hair. You may have heard that bald men have higher levels of testosterone, but this explanation isn’t completely accurate. There is evidence that links testosterone levels and male pattern baldness, but the relationship is more complex than you might think and other factors can play a role.
Hormonal Causes of Thinning Hair
While testosterone levels can lead to thinning hair, it is important to keep in mind that there are several different types of testosterone that serve different roles in the body. “Free” testosterone is found in the bloodstream and is readily available to go into action. Other forms of testosterone are bound to proteins and other sex hormones. These types aren’t nearly as active although they help regulate essential bodily functions.
The type of testosterone associated with thinning hair is a unique form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is created by enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase. This is the most potent form of the male hormone and is used by hair follicles, skin and the prostate. In the past, the medical community assumed there was a think between low levels of testosterone in the blood and thinning hair, but more recent discoveries have found that DHT is actually the culprit behind male pattern baldness.
As DHT is created, androgen receptors can cause the hormone to bind to hair follicles. The more sensitive these receptors are, the more DHT they will receive, which ultimately damages the follicles. At first, the follicles will shrink and interrupt hair growth cycles. The hair that does grow will begin to be shorter and thinner. Eventually, the hair will stop growing altogether and the begin to recede at the temples forming a distinctive M pattern. Interestingly enough, only the hair follicles on the head are affected, which is why bald men can still grow full beards.
Testing Hormone Levels
Fortunately, determining your DHT levels is relatively simple. A blood test is all it takes to understand your testosterone levels and identify whether your thinning hair is being caused by internal factors. If DHT isn’t the cause, there may be genetic, environmental, medical and lifestyle issues affecting your hair health.
Genetic Causes of Thinning Hair
Genetics play an important role in determining whether an individual is more sensitive to DHT than others. While environmental factors can also influence sensitivity, most people inherit their reaction to DHT and androgen from their family. Keep in mind that while a family history of male pattern baldness doesn’t necessarily mean that you will experience thinning hair, it is a good indicator.
Environmental Causes of Thinning Hair
Stressful events that cause major trauma to the body can result in hair loss known as telogen effluvium. When the body experiences malnutrition, infection, surgery or other stressors, it can cause a shift in the growth patterns of the hair. Normally, hair alternates among growing, resting and shedding phases, but stress can cause around 90% of the follicles to begin shedding. This typically occurs 6 to 12 weeks after the initial traumatic event. Fortunately, the body typically recovers and returns to a normal growth pattern as long as further stress is avoided.
Medical Causes of Male Baldness
While hair loss is common, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are around 30 different diseases that can cause hair loss. Treatable conditions, including hypertension, thyroid disease, and anemia, can cause thinning hair. Addressing these issues and improving your overall health can often stop or even reverse hair loss. That is why it is important to talk to your doctor if you are concerned that you are losing too much hair.
Lifestyle Factors that Can affect Hair Loss
Your diet and nutrition habits can also have a significant impact on your hair health. Smokers experience thinning hair and hair loss at a higher rate than non-smokers. People who are not getting enough iron or protein in their diets can also suffer from thinning hair. Even the stress of losing weight can cause the body to react and throw off growth cycles. The good news is that hair loss caused by these circumstances can often be easily treated and reversed.
Quitting smoking, increasing your protein intake and eating enough iron will help you to regrow your hair. If you experienced hair loss after losing a significant amount of weight, your body will usually naturally return to a state of homeostasis. You won’t have to take any additional steps besides being patient as your body readjusts.
Thinning Hair Treatments
Once your doctor or dermatologist has identified the root cause of your hair loss, you can work together to create a plan of action. Keep in mind that it is difficult to regrow hair, especially if your hair loss is caused by hormones. That makes it important to address the problem early on before you have lost a significant amount of hair that can’t be replaced. Here are a few common treatments that may be worth considering:
There are a variety of devices on the market that use lasers to stimulate hair growth. These range from helmet-like products that can be worn every other day to brushes and combs that emit laser lights. While there is some evidence that these devices have helped people experience healthy hair growth, it isn’t clear yet whether laser devices are effective over long periods of time. There are no known side effects of low-level laser devices at this time.
This over-the-counter medication is applied to the scalp and has proven to prevent hair from getting thinner while also stimulating growth. Because it is applied directly to the scalp, it won’t affect DHT levels or address the underlying causes of hair loss.
Surgical Procedures to Treat Hair Loss
There are also some surgical procedures that can be used to reduce the appearance of balding. Hair transplants, scalp reductions, scalp flaps, and scalp expansions are all used to increase the surface area of hair on the scalp. However, these procedures are invasive and require a recovery period. You may want to try other lifestyle changes and medications before you go under the knife.
Your body’s hormones are responsible for regulating all sorts of functions, including hair growth. If you have a sensitivity to DHT, you will experience thinning hair that will eventually stop growing. If you aren’t excited about rocking the bald look, there are some medical and surgical treatments available. Otherwise, a DHT sensitivity won’t affect other areas of your health and you can live a normal life, just with a little less hair.
The Derma-Graph Solution: The Ultimate Non-surgical Method of Hair Restoration
At Apollo, we offer the only immediate solution to hair loss. The Derma-graph hair replacement system is made with a flexible skin-like membrane that appears to be your own scalp. It is invisible to the eye and undetectable to the human touch. If you want your own full head of hair that you can cut, wash, and style how you’d like right away, the Derma-graph solution may be right for you. Call (713) 955-7732 today or fill out the form below to schedule your free scalp evaluation and consultation. Make today the day you decide to change your image and regain your confidence.