The Science

Male & Female Pattern Hair Loss

By May 21, 2019 July 8th, 2019 No Comments

Male Pattern Hair Loss

Male Pattern Hair Loss (MPHL) can follow a number of different patterns, but is usually characterised by hair initially thinning from the sides and front of the forehead (receding hairline) followed by a bald patch at the crown of the head (vertex). Gradually, the bald area increases in size and eventually many men are left with a narrow horseshoe-shaped band of hair around the back and sides of the head. Most pattern baldness is genetic and whilst there is some research demonstrating both parents contribute to hereditary hair loss, a man has a greater chance of experiencing the same pattern baldness as his father.

The onset of MPHL can begin in men as young as 25 years and although the rate of hair loss varies from individual to individual, with some men going completely bald in less than 5 years, for most men hair loss is a much slower process – gradually occurring over 15-25 years. We know that the trigger for hereditary hair loss is caused by a powerful hormone known as DHT.

DHT – The Major Cause of Male Pattern Baldness

DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) is a powerful metabolite of the ‘testosterone’ hormone and is 3 times more potent than the hormone itself! DHT is renowned for its role in causing male pattern baldness, prostate problems and has also been identified as the cause of some types of acne.

The mechanism by which DHT causes hair loss in men is still not fully understood, but it is thought that DHT causes miniaturization (shrinkage) of the hair follicle, resulting in a progressive decrease in width of the hair shaft until the scalp hair resembles ultra fine, fragile ‘downy’ hair or becomes non-existent.

Many trials have been carried out to assess whether certain environmental and stressful conditions may have an effect on human DHT levels. One such trial in the USA observed army recruits who suffered extended sleep deprivation: the trial concluded that extreme stress due to sleep deprivation (in fit males) was unlikely to elevate DHT levels.

Female Pattern Hair Loss

Recent research suggests that up to 60% of post menopausal women and approximately 13% of pre menopausal women suffer some degree of hair loss. This hair loss is usually attributed to hormonal changes; however, hereditary hair loss is still the major cause of thinning hair in both men and women.

Female Pattern Hair Loss is characterised by an increased production of testosterone and differs to the male pattern in that women usually experience a general thinning of the hair with the predominant hair loss occurring over the top of the head.

Due to the diverse causes of female hair loss, it is important not to ‘self diagnose’ and to seek medical advice in the first instance in order to eliminate any potential illness, allergies or diet deficiencies.


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