Losing Your Hair? Male Pattern Baldness: Causes and Treatments

Losing Your Hair? Male Pattern Baldness: Causes and Treatments

Hair loss is a natural part of life for many people, but losing hair may be especially depressing for males. The most prevalent kind of hair loss is male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, which affects millions of men worldwide. While it cannot be totally avoided, understanding the reasons, phases, and treatment choices available may help you take charge of your hair health and find solutions that give you confidence.

What is Male Pattern Baldness?

Male pattern baldness, commonly known as androgenetic alopecia, is a hereditary hair loss disorder that affects males.

Male pattern baldness is a progressive and predictable process, as opposed to rapid or uneven hair loss caused by stress, disease, or medicine. It normally follows a predictable pattern, beginning with a receding hairline at the temples and advancing to crown thinning. 

These regions may eventually grow entirely bald, whereas the hair on the sides and back of the head stays comparatively undamaged.

How Do I Know If I’m Losing Hair?

Have you noticed extra hair in your shower drain or on your pillow? These are typical symptoms of hair loss. But how can you know if it’s just natural shedding or the beginnings of male pattern baldness? 

Look for the following warning signs:

  • Gradual receding hairline at the temples
  • Thinning on the crown of the head
  • Widening of the part
  • Increased hair shedding
  • Miniaturization of hair follicles (hair becoming thinner and finer)

Causes of Male Pattern Baldness

Genetics: If your father or grandfather experienced hair loss, you’re more likely to experience it too. Specific genes influence how your hair follicles respond to male hormones, making them more susceptible to miniaturization.

Hormones: Androgens, primarily dihydrotestosterone (DHT), are the main culprits. DHT shrinks hair follicles over time, leading to progressive hair loss.

Stages of Male Pattern Baldness

The Norwood-Hamilton scale is a widely used system for classifying the stages of male pattern baldness:

Stage 1: Receding hairline with minimal thinning on the crown

Stage 2: Further receding hairline and slight thinning on the crown

Stage 3: Continued receding hairline and more noticeable thinning on the crown

Stage 4: Deepening baldness on the crown with a horseshoe-shaped pattern remaining

Stage 5: Significant baldness on the crown with only a thin rim of hair remaining

Stage 6: Further progression of baldness on the crown, leaving only a narrow band of hair

Stage 7: Almost complete baldness on the crown with only wispy hair remaining

Diagnosis and Tests

A visit to your doctor for a checkup is frequently the first step in diagnosing male pattern baldness. Doctors will examine your scalp for hair loss patterns and inquire about your family history. 

They may also do a hair pull test, in which they gently tug on hairs to check how many readily fall out.

Your doctor may advise you to get blood tests to examine your iron levels, thyroid hormone levels, and testosterone levels. These can aid in the diagnosis of illnesses that produce excessive shedding, such as thyroid dysfunction.

A scalp biopsy may be performed in some situations by your doctor. This includes removing a tiny piece of skin from regions of hair loss with a punch instrument. A microscope is used to analyze the sample for symptoms of a fungal infection or other skin problems.

A doctor may generally identify male pattern baldness based on the appearance of miniaturized hairs in a balding pattern. As baldness progresses, the shrunken hairs grow thinner and shorter. A densitometer is an instrument that doctors may use to assess hair caliber and estimate the level of shrinkage.

While testing is occasionally required, a thorough history and physical examination are frequently enough to diagnose male pattern baldness. Doctors can see the common patterns of hair loss.

Treatment Options

Male pattern baldness can be treated with a variety of methods, with varying degrees of success.

Medications

Minoxidil and finasteride are the two major drugs used to treat male pattern baldness. 

Minoxidil, when given topically to the scalp, stimulates hair growth. In some men, it delays additional hair loss, but only while therapy is continuing. Finasteride is administered orally as a tablet.

It works by inhibiting the DHT hormone, which causes hair loss. Finasteride results may take many months to manifest. It reduces further hair loss in most men and helps some men regrow hair. If the medication is discontinued, hair loss will return. To sustain results, both drugs must be taken indefinitely. They are not suitable for all males.

Laser Therapy

Low-level laser light therapy is a relatively recent therapeutic option for hair loss. For brief periods of time, little combs or caps containing laser beams are put on the scalp. The low-light therapy is intended to stimulate hair follicles and cell activity. While it shows some promise, additional study is required to validate its efficacy. The FDA has not authorized laser hair growth devices.

Hair Transplants

Hair transplantation is a surgical treatment that involves removing hair follicles from locations where hair loss is not present and implanting them in bald or thinning areas. Hair follicles that have been transplanted continue to develop normally in their new site. 

A transplant, albeit costly and time-consuming, can produce natural-looking results. Patients must have enough donor hair on hand. Multiple procedures are frequently required. The two most frequent transplant methods are FUE (follicular unit extraction) and FUT (follicular unit transplantation).

Other Options

When natural oils are administered, microneedling causes microscopic incisions in the scalp that are supposed to accelerate healing and hair growth. However, greater proof of efficacy is required. 

Scalp reduction eliminates bare skin and brings hair-bearing scalps together. The outcomes are just transient. Hairpieces and wigs can help with cosmetic concealment. Some people choose to shave their heads totally. Acceptance of hair loss may be the healthiest decision in the end.

Conclusion

Lastly, how to treat male pattern baldness is a personal choice. Some men decide to shave their heads and accept their baldness, while others prefer to investigate therapeutic alternatives to reduce or restore hair loss. There are no right or incorrect answers; the key thing is to select what makes you feel most secure and comfortable.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read this article on How Do Chia Seeds Lower Testosterone?

*This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical or dietary advice tailored to individual needs.

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Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Kimberly Langdon

Dr. Kimberly Langdon has been an MD for 31 years, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place accolades for her Senior Research Project and Score of 98th percentile on a National Proficiency Test.

During her clinical career, she delivered over 2000 babies and specialized in minimally invasive procedures, menopause, endometriosis, menstrual disorders, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. After retiring from clinical practice, she founded a medical device company to commercialize her two patented and four patent-pending medical devices for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening infections.

Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Coologics, 2010-present
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberly-langdon-m-d-41847610/
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine 1987-1991
The Ohio State University Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program 1991-1995
Private practice 1995-2010

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., received his medical doctorate from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. During his medical school training, Dr. Hsu worked with various patients, including adult and pediatric patients with acute and chronic conditions. Dr. Hsu’s interests include neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, and sleep medicine.

Before medical school, Dr. Hsu finished a master’s degree at Harvard University and wrote a thesis on neuroimaging in schizophrenia patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. Dr. Hsu was also a part of the 2008 NASA Phoenix Lander Mission team, which sent a robotic spacecraft to the North polar region of Mars. Dr. Hsu also had research experience on neuroimaging in neonates at Boston Children’s Hospital, another Harvard Medical School-affiliated Hospital.

Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Hsu has worked as a full-time medical writer and consultant. In addition, he has experience writing and ghostwriting books and articles for physicians and health technology start-up companies. Dr. Hsu believes good communication between healthcare providers and patients creates the best results.

Publications

-Peer Reviewed Journal Article:
Kounaves, S.P., Hecht, M.H., West, S.J., Morookian, J.-M., Young, S.M.M., Quinn, R., Grunthaner, P., Wen, X., Weilert, M., Cable, C.A., Fisher, A., Gospodinova, K., Kapit, J., Stroble, S., Hsu, P.-C., Clark, B.C., Ming, D.W. and Smith, P.H. The MECA wet chemistry laboratory on the 2007 phoenix mars scout Lander. Journal of Geophysical Research. 2009, Mar; 114(E3): 10.1029/2008je003084.

-Poster Presentation:
2011 Harvard Psychiatry Mysell Poster Session; Boston, MA
Hsu, P.C., Rathi, Y., Eckbo, R., Nestor, P., Niznikiewicz, M., Thompson, E., Kubicki, M., Shenton, M.E. (March, 2011). Two-Tensor Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Acoustic Radiations in Schizophrenia

Dr. Nicolette Natale

Nicolette Natale

Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, with a background in Psychology, General Medicine, and English Literature, combining her expertise to provide readers with the most accurate, easy-to-understand, and comprehensive information regarding healthcare. She received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University, and her bachelor’s in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Natale seeks to empower individuals with knowledge, fostering a greater understanding of holistic health and encouraging a proactive approach to well-being