If you’re seeing more hair than normal disappear down the shower drain, or finding a lot of it on the back of your shirt it might have sent you into a bit of a tailspin. Whilst some men are not all that attached to their hair, many men’s self-image becomes connected to their hair and the loss of it can be confronting.
You’ve probably heard male pattern baldness mentioned before. It’s exceptionally common, so you’ve probably had a man in your life experience it, or you might be experiencing it yourself. If you suspect you’re suffering from male pattern baldness or if you’ve had a diagnosis then there are probably a lot of thoughts and questions swirling around in your head. We’ve got answers to your most pressing questions; find out everything you need to know about male pattern baldness below.
What is male pattern hair loss?
Male pattern hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia as it is sometimes known, affects more than half of the male population to varying degrees throughout their lifetime. Male pattern baldness is characterised as progressive thinning and loss of the hair over time, usually eventually leading to baldness. Male pattern hair loss usually begins to present as men age. Hair loss often starts with a receding hairline, beginning at the temples. From there, the hair at the crown of the head usually started to thin out. People with more severe hair loss may experience thinning and loss of hair over the entire crown, leaving a distinctive horseshoe shape or pattern on the head.
What causes male pattern hair loss?
Male pattern baldness is often inherited, passed on through families with genes that make hair follicles more sensitive to the hormone DHT which causes hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop working. DHT is converted from testosterone, which is the most important male sex hormone to men, as it is essential for normal reproductive and sexual functions. Testosterone is responsible for many of the physical changes that happen to men during puberty and for many of the characteristics typical of adult men like facial and body hair. The process of hair loss related to male pattern baldness is gradual and usually slow, only the hair on the scalp is impacted, no other body hair is affected.
How common is male pattern hair loss?
Most men will experience hair loss as they age, almost every man will have some degree of thinning as they get older. About 20% of Australian men will experience significant balding as early as their 20’s, the number rises to 30% for Australian men over 30 and reaches closer to half by the time men reach their 40s.
Should I be worried about hair loss?
For many people, hair loss is a normal part of aging. Male pattern hair loss isn’t dangerous but the cosmetic change can be upsetting for some men. There are treatments available to help slow or stop hair loss that some men may seek out, a good start is a hair-loss shampoo for men. Some hair loss is related to health conditions, if you’re young or are experiencing health issues or other symptoms at the same time as your hair has begun to fall out then there might be more factors at play than just normal aging and you should seek out a doctor.
What is the emotional impact of hair loss?
A man’s hair is an extremely visible part of their physical appearance, so it’s no wonder that some men find the loss of their hair highly distressing. Hair can have a strong link with self-esteem. Without it, many men will experience a loss of confidence and may feel that their hair loss impacts on their attractiveness and makes them look older. Hair loss can cause men to feel depressed and deeply unhappy with their physical appearance. There are some things that men can do to treat hair loss to slow it down or restore some of the lost hair volume, and some men find it helpful to speak to a counsellor or close friend about how their feeling. Other men will have a much easier time with hair loss, although many will still struggle with navigating the conversations around the status of their hair. It can be an awkward, difficult topic and a very visible sign of aging, so it’s not anybody’s favourite subject! Hair loss can take an emotional toll, but most men become more accepting of it over time.
How is hair loss treated?
Hair loss is a normal part of aging, so most men seek treatments to help them combat the cosmetic ramifications of hair loss. If there is an underlying health issue then some men will seek help to target the cause. There are medications and other products that can stop or slow hair loss with one of the best shampoo for hair loss.
Can a hair transplant help?
Hair transplants involve a process where tiny plugs of hair are taken from areas where hair is still growing and then they are inserted into the balding areas of the scalp. The process usually requires multiple sessions to get the best results and it can be a very expensive procedure. The results usually end up being permanent and can look very good. The procedure can be very invasive and can have side effects, like minor scarring or skin infections. An experienced and high skilled surgeon is essential for this procedure, in order to get the best results and help to protect from any potential complications.
Is there a link between male pattern baldness and other health issues?
Testosterone is involved with the growth of the prostate as well as hair, so there are some studies that suggest that men who experience male pattern may be at a higher risk of prostate cancer, although scientists do not completely understand the link yet.
What are some common myths about male pattern baldness?
There are quite a few misconceptions floating around out there about baldness and male pattern hair loss. Some of these myths are based on misconstrued fact, whilst others are wildly incorrect beliefs and old wives tales. Here are a few of the major misunderstandings and myths:
A common belief is that standing on your head slows down and reduces hair loss because ‘blood flow’ to the head stimulates hair growth. Whilst some hair loss drugs are thought to work on increasing the blood flow to the hair follicle, there has been no proven link made between the ‘blood flow’ theory and the reduction of hair loss.
Another common misconception is that the gene for male pattern baldness is passed through the mother’s side of the family. It’s more complicated than a single gene being passed on from both parents. In fact, male pattern hair loss comes from a number of different genetic factors that come from both the mother and father. People do have a higher chance of experiencing baldness if they have a close relative that suffers from it, so it often runs in families. The myth that high testosterone levels cause hair loss is also quite prolific. Some people believe that hair loss happens as a result of too much testosterone. This has been proven to be untrue.
What other causes of hair loss are there?
Male pattern hair loss is not the only cause of balding for men. Some men may experience balding for other reasons. There are some red flags like other health symptoms, changes in medication or hair loss starting at a fairly young age that may indicate that hair loss is the result of some other underlying factor, rather than genetics.
Physically traumatic events can have the impact of causing temporary hair loss in people. Events that put the body through major duress can force it into the shedding phase. Events like car accidents, severe illnesses, major surgeries or large falls can basically shock the body into pushing more hair out and shedding. This type of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. Due to the body’s natural growth, rest and shedding cycle, hair loss as a result of physical trauma usually happens three to six months after the initial traumatic event.
Too much Vitamin A in the body can actually cause hair loss. It’s difficult to overdo vitamin A unless you’re taking supplements. Luckily hair loss due to overdosing on vitamin A is easily reversible and only requires that the use of excessive amounts of vitamin A is stopped. As a guide the recommended daily value for vitamin a is 5,000 units per day for adults.
Lack of protein
If your diet is protein deficient than you may experience some hair loss. This is because protein deficient body’s will begin to preserve protein for use in other functions by shutting down hair growth in the body. Signs of hair loss will begin to show at around three months after a drop in protein is experienced. Hair loss caused by protein deficiency can be resolved by changing the diet to include more protein sources. Common sources of protein include fish, meat and eggs.
Just like physical trauma, emotional distress can cause hair loss. At times of extreme emotional distress or anxiety some people will experience hair loss. If there’s already an existing issue or genetic predisposition to balding, then emotional stress can exacerbate the issue. Some men may lose hair during a divorce, after the death of a loved one or when things are particularly stressful at work. This is only temporary hair loss, and will usually stop once the external stressor has been removed from one’s life. Hair loss usually becomes apparent after 3 or more months from the original event that causes the stress.
Iron deficiency is more common in woman but many men experience it too. Iron deficiency anemia can be the cause of hair loss. A simple blood test can show if you are iron deficient. You will likely notice other symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, pale skin and headaches with iron deficiency. Usually a supplement will fix the problem and prevent any further hair loss.
A underactive thyroid can cause hair loss. You will usually experience a number of other symptoms if you suffer from hypothyroidism. Your doctor will be able to determine if you have it. Once you are medicated, any issues with hair loss should subside.
Vitamin B deficiency
Vitamin B deficiencies are fairly uncommon, but when they do occur they can be the culprit for hair loss. Luckily any issues with hair loss will usually go away with dietary changes to incorporate more vitamin B rich foods like fish, meat, starchy vegetable and nuts.
Auto-immune related hair loss
An over-reactive immune system can confuse your body and cause it to target hair follicles as a result, which can cause hair loss. Your doctor will need to identify if this is an issue and prescribe appropriate medication.
Chemotherapy is well known for causing hair loss. It doesn’t happen to everyone but unfortunately a lot of people will discover that their hair thins or falls out when on chemo. This is because chemotherapy destroys cells, including hair cells. When chemotherapy is finished hair will grow back, although many people find it comes back as a different texture.
Some medications like anti-depressants and blood thinners can cause hair loss as a side effect. Before stopping any medication, you should talk to your doctor.