There is a lot of confusion about hair loss and testosterone. That testosterone and hair loss are connected. For example, people believe that bald men have more testosterone, but this isn’t the case.
Male pattern baldness is a problem for many men and women. Hormones and certain genes cause it. The follicles shrink, and hairs become finer until there is no hair left.
Hair loss and other types of testosterone
Testosterone is found in your body. You have two forms of testosterone, “free” and “bound.” Free testosterone is the form most able to act within the body.
Testosterone is a hormone in the blood. Most testosterone is bound to a protein called SHBG and isn’t active. But if you have low levels of SHBG, you may have higher levels of free testosterone in your blood.
Another type of testosterone is called DHT, and it’s five times more potent than regular testosterone. This hormone regulates the prostate, skin, and hair follicles.
Hair loss and DHT testosterone
DHT is a type of hormone that can come from hormones in your body or outside of your body. When it is made from testosterone, the enzyme called 5-alpha reductase makes it. DHT can also be made from DHEA, which is more common in women. DHT appears in the skin, hair follicles, and prostate. The actions of DHT and how sensitive hair follicles are to DHT cause hair loss.
DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, is a male sex hormone that acts in the prostate. Without it, the prostate would not grow. However, if too much of it is too much, a man can develop benign prostatic hypertrophy where the prostate gets bigger and harder urination.
Baldness may be linked to prostate cancer and other diseases. For example, some studies show men who have bald spots on the top of their heads are likely to get prostate cancer than men without any bald spots.
Men with these bald spots also have more risk of getting coronary artery disease, triple the risk of developing diabetes, and a more than 23% higher chance of having metabolic syndrome. More research needs to be done to see if there is a connection between DHT levels in the body and these health problems.
Male Pattern Baldness (MPB)
Male pattern baldness is when your hair falls out. As a result, the front of your head gets thinner. The crown of your head also becomes thin. Eventually, the two meet to form a “U.” Male pattern baldness can happen in other places, too, like on your chest. For some reason, the hair in one place might get thicker while other places are getting more thinned out.
Hair loss and genes
It is not the amount of testosterone and DHT that makes your hair fall out. It is how sensitive your hair follicles are. Your hair follicles can be more susceptible if someone has an AR gene. It will be hard not to trigger their hair follicles with even small amounts of DHT if they have this gene. Other genes could make it happen too.
Age, stress, and other factors can make a person lose hair. But genes are a significant factor. For example, if you have close male relatives with MPB, you will have a higher risk of getting it.
There are many myths about balding men. One myth is that they have more traits of high testosterone and masculinity. This may not be true. Men with MPB may have lower levels of circulating testosterone but higher levels of the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.
Or you might have some genes that make your hair follicles sensitive to testosterone or DHT, which makes you lose hair faster.
Women and hair loss
Women can also lose hair because of androgenetic alopecia. Men have a lot more testosterone than women do, but there might still be enough to cause hair loss in women as well.
Women lose their hair in a different way than men. It starts at the top of the scalp and comes out in a pattern like a Christmas tree. The front part of their head does not get any thinner. Women also make DHT, which is what causes people to lose their hair.
Testosterone, prostate cancer, and hair loss research
Scientists have found a way to connect male pattern baldness and BPH to create one medication for both. For example, Proscar blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT, so it helps some men with BPH. And Propecia helps some men with male pattern baldness by blocking DHT. But Avodart does not allow people with male pattern baldness, even though it does block DHT.
Researchers in Australia found that men with androgenic alopecia, or hair loss, might have an increased risk of prostate cancer. This is because DHT can drive both hair loss and prostate cells to grow.
One thousand four hundred forty-six men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. They looked at 1,390 people without the disease and found a link between hair loss and prostate cancer.
They found that men with baldness on the top of their heads are more likely to have prostate cancer. The association was stronger for men diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer at 60–69 years of age.
A receding hairline does not cause cancer. It looks like it might, but there is no link between the two. Other men who had a receding hairline also got sick, though.
A study on men at Harvard found that balding was linked to the risk of heart disease. In addition, men with bald spots were more likely to get heart disease than men with full heads of hair.
Men with mild baldness had a 23% greater chance, those with moderate one had a 32% higher chance, and those with severe almost 36%. However, frontal balding was not associated with getting heart disease.
Doctors don’t know why balding makes you more likely to get prostate cancer or heart disease. But they don’t think it is because of the hair loss itself. Instead, they believe there might be something else that bald people are doing or getting that might make them more likely to get cancer or heart disease.
[source: Testosterone, prostate cancer, and balding: Is there a link?]
What can you do about hair loss?
Some ways to treat MPB and FPHL involve drugs that stop testosterone from being changed into DHT. For example, Finasteride (Propecia) is a drug that stops the 5-alpha reductase enzyme from changing testosterone to DHT.
However, it is not safe for pregnant women or women who may become pregnant, and there may be sexual side effects for both men and women from this drug.
Another 5-alpha reductase inhibitor called dutasteride is being looked at as a potential treatment for hair loss. In addition, it’s currently on the market to help with an enlarged prostate.
Supplements with zinc can also help with hair loss.
Zinc is needed for hair growth and to keep oil glands working.
Hair loss is a symptom of zinc deficiency. People who take zinc supplements may have less hair loss.
However, it’s important to keep to the recommended dose as you may be doing more harm than good.
[source: The Therapeutic Effect and the Changed Serum Zinc Level after Zinc Supplementation in Alopecia Areata Patients Who Had a Low Serum Zinc Level]
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