There’s a range of reasons for hair loss and baldness in men, but the most common cause of bald spots and receding hairlines in men is known as male pattern baldness.
What Is Male Pattern Baldness?
Androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness (MPB) as it’s better known, is one of the most common forms of hair loss affecting men; it accounts for 95% of hair loss and baldness in men.
What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?
Genetic and hormonal changes cause male pattern hair loss or baldness in men.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone responsible for many male characteristics, causes your scalp hair follicles to change, impacting the hairs produced by the affected follicles. This causes the hairs to become increasingly smaller and shorter until the follicles shrink to the extent that they stop growing hair.
Will I Go Bald if My Dad Is?
The short answer here is no, not necessarily. While genetics have a role to play, and genetic male pattern baldness does occur, the influence of genetics in MPB is often misunderstood. Studies have shown that genetics play a significant role in whether men will experience male pattern baldness. However, there isn’t one gene for baldness as MPB is a polygenic condition, which means different genes are responsible.
One of the genes involved in MPB is the AR gene and originates from the maternal side of the family. The AR gene determines how sensitive your hair follicles are to androgens, like DHT, and research has shown that increased expression of the AR gene is often found in men experiencing male pattern hair loss.
What Else Causes Male Pattern Baldness?
While your genetics and hormones are usually responsible for MPB, they’re not the only factors.
Lifestyle can often have more of an impact on hair loss than you might realize. For example, if you struggle with stress, anxiety, or trichotillomania, you might be prone to pulling your hair out. When you pull your hair out, you cause other strands to break or fall out, and over time, this can permanently damage your follicles.
Nutrition can also have an impact on your hair. Vitamin or mineral deficiencies can impact the condition of your hair. For example, research has shown that iron deficiency can lead to hair loss.
Early Signs of Male Pattern Hair Loss
Here are some of the early signs of male pattern baldness in men that can help you get ahead of the issue.
A quick check for hair loss is to look in the mirror and see if your hairline is forming a rounded M shape at the front. If so, you may see this change into a U shape as your hairline recedes.
Hair on Your Pillow
Another early sign of hair loss is waking up with several hairs on your pillow, shoulders, or clothes. Everyone experiences some hair shedding, but if you’re regularly noticing loose hairs, this could be an early sign of MPB.
Thinning Hair on Your Crown
If you start to notice a bald spot on your crown from where hair is thinning, this could also signify male pattern baldness.
What Age Does Hair Loss Start?
Male pattern baldness affects around two-thirds of American men by 35, although it can begin much earlier for some men. Typically, hair loss starts with a receding hairline or thinning hair around the crown.
Can Male Pattern Baldness Be Cured?
Once you’ve gone completely bald, it can be very difficult to treat. However, there are very effective ways to prevent MPB and encourage hair regrowth. Therefore, it’s essential to keep an eye on any early warning signs so that you can treat them earlier rather than later.
What Is the Best Treatment for Male Pattern Baldness?
There is a range of treatments for hair loss, and some treatments are more invasive than others.
While these are some of the most popular medical procedures that many use to tackle hair loss and MPB, these strategies may not work for everyone.
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure where areas of your scalp with healthy follicles and hair that grows well are removed in small segments and transplanted to places where you’re balding. Typically, several sessions are needed to make sure the procedure has worked, plus there’s usually a few months of healing.
Another surgical procedure, scalp reduction, is when a surgeon removes skin from a bald part of the scalp and then stretches the hair-growth areas to cover the bald spots. Similar to hair transplants, several sessions may be required.
Over the last few years, PRP has become increasingly popular. The process involves taking blood from you and spinning it in a machine to separate the plasma, which is then injected into parts of the scalp that has been affected by hair loss. PRP can last for around two years, although it will vary by individual.
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
LLLT is a non-invasive medical procedure that uses lasers to boost blood flow to your follicles to encourage hair growth. Research has shown LLLT to be safe and can be effective.
Hair Loss Products
There are also non-invasive treatments for hair loss and MPB, such as medicines that are effective in promoting hair growth as well as preventing further hair loss.
Minoxidil is a solution applied directly to the scalp, and it works by dilating the blood vessels around hair follicles. This increases the nutrient supply to damaged hair follicles and makes them stronger, allowing hair to grow thicker and longer.
Finasteride is a medicine taken daily to help reduce hair loss. The medication works by lowering DHT levels and can be most effective for a receding hairline, and it can be used alone or in combination with minoxidil. You can read our article on DHT blockers and how they work for more information.
The treatments above are generally considered the most effective at treating male pattern baldness. However, there are other products that may support your scalp health. For example, shampoos infused with substances such as caffeine are claimed to promote hair growth. However, there’s little clinical evidence that caffeine’s topical application works. Instead, look out for shampoos containing stemoxydine, a substance that has been shown to increase hair density, or ketoconazole shampoos have also been shown to be effective in treating hair loss.
Coping With Hair Loss and MPB
Male pattern baldness and hair loss can affect men in many ways. Men experiencing hair loss can struggle with low self-esteem and high-stress levels regardless of their age. However, remember some treatments are scientifically proven to stop hair loss and promote hair growth, so if you’re asking yourself: “Should I shave my head if I’m balding?” Then be reassured that you don’t need to be reaching for the clippers if you don’t want to.
If you’ve noticed your hairline receding or your hair thinning around your crown, consider speaking with a men’s health physician. Connecting with a specialized men’s health physician in a private setting has never been easier; at Opt Health, we want to help you feel like you again.
From the comfort of your own home, you can schedule an appointment with a doctor, meet one-on-one via video conference, receive test results, and have medication delivered directly to your door.