Hair Loss and the Testosterone Connection

What causes baldness? The answer is varied and complicated.

Normally, people will lose between 50 and 100 hairs during the course of a day. These hairs will be naturally replaced on a continual basis. More excessive hair loss can be caused by a myriad of things, from physical or emotional trauma, to lack of protein and vitamin deficiencies, to pregnancy and birth control, to medication. But this type of hair loss is usually temporary and hair will regrow once the root cause has been removed. When it comes to permanent hair loss, however, it usually comes down to a couple simple things: genetics and hormones.

The National Institutes of Health has found that androgenetic alopecia, or common male pattern baldness, affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the US. According to the American Hair Loss Association, it accounts for more that 95% of all hair loss in men. It is estimated that approximately 25% of men who have male pattern baldness begin to see signs before they reach 21 and, by the age of 35, two thirds of American men will see some degree of discernible hair loss.

Although baldness is connected to male hormones, its relationship with testosterone is not a linear one.

There are different forms of testosterone that exist in the body with differing functions. Male pattern baldness is not caused by the testosterone, itself, but a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is created when testosterone is converted by an enzyme known at 5-alpha reductase. DHT is an androgen, a hormone that triggers the development of male characteristics. Women also experience hair loss in a differing pattern. Although they have lower levels of testosterone, they have enough to cause androgenetic hair loss. The hormone DHEA has also been linked to women’s hair loss.

The DHT hormone is much more powerful than testosterone and it is what causes hair loss, not testosterone itself. But it’s still not quite as simple as that. It’s not the quantity of DHT in your system that causes baldness, but the sensitivity of your hair follicles to it. And this is determined by your genetics.

So baldness is not a simple linear case of cause and effect when it comes to testosterone, but a dance of hormones and genetics. There are plenty of myths out there, such as bald men being more virile, or your mother’s genetics being the cause of baldness. But now, real solutions exist. There are many new techniques and opportunities to deal effectively with androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. FDA approved hair restoration techniques such as follicular unit transplantation, follicular unit extraction, and platelet rich plasma are now enabling men and women to re-grow, manage and prevent their hair loss. These new surgical and non-surgical methods are now benefiting men and women by offering safe and affordable solutions for permanent hair restoration.