How Testosterone Affects Hair Loss
Who springs to mind when you think of men that you’d describe as particularly “manly”? Who rolls off the tongue when picturing muscles, strength and general masculinity? Perhaps you thought of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, or Bruce Willis, maybe Mike Tyson. Other than the aforementioned, one thing that all these men have in common is their underwhelming amount of head hair. Indeed, all these men had a full head of hair in their earlier careers as younger men, but now they sport the bald look, and not exactly by choice. But these men aren’t “old”, they’re all still fit and seemingly healthy, and hopefully we have many more years of them gracing our screens, but yet what they quickly gained in terms of masculine prowess they make up for in their early abandonment of hair follicles.
Is there something to be said about these men – who evidently have more testosterone flowing through them – being predisposed to early baldness due to their hormones? The theory that testosterone is not a friend to head hair is not a new one, but does the science stack up? In this article, the online pharmacy Pharmica we will examine just this.
As the predominant sex hormones in men, testosterone has an important to part to play regarding development of the reproductive organs, as well as influencing secondary male characteristics such as body hair growth and muscle distribution. Firstly we must differentiate between the different types of testosterone. When we think about individuals who have strong male secondary characteristics and to whom we may attribute high testosterone, what we’re really talking about is “free” testosterone. Free testosterone is the bioavailable substance our bodies can use, and accounts for only about 0.5% to 3% of total testosterone. Testosterone bound to the albumin protein can be made available to the body if required, and makes up about 53% to 55% of total testosterone. Lastly, 43% to 45% of testosterone is bound to the SHBG protein, bound so tightly that it is not presently available for any other cells to use. If you have lower levels of the protein bound to SHBG, you may have higher free testosterone. This means that whilst you may have higher testosterone levels overall, you may not have unusually masculine secondary characteristics. This is not helped by the fact that lab testosterone tests struggle to differentiate between these types of testosterone.
Our bodies convert around 10% of our available testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), used in development during puberty, maintaining the prostate gland, and developing the male genitalia. It has a similar impact on the severity of secondary male characteristics as testosterone, but is up to 6 times more powerful. Unusually high levels of DHT have sadly been linked to heart diseases, prostate cancers and, wait for it, hair growth
DHT in high volumes can shrink the hair follicle that the hair grows from, meaning it is thinner as well as being more brittle so it will likely shed faster. DHT has also been linked to slowing down the hair growth process so that there is a delay before returning to the growth phase.
At this point, this might seem fairly conclusive: masculine guys have a high level of bioavailable testosterone that they convert to more DHT. But there is another variable to consider, and that’s DHT sensitivity. Gene variations mean that some people’s hair follicles are overly susceptible to the presence of DHT, which is known as pattern baldness and is in some regard hereditary.
Thankfully, there are a few methods to counteract hair loss, either by reducing the uptake of DHT or by stimulating the hair follicles. These popular methods include the following:
One of the most popular hair loss treatments, Finasteride is an oral tablet taken to combat hair loss. It contains the 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, 5-AR being an enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT in the body. Preventing this halts hair loss, and actually encourages hair regrowth in about 9 out of 10 men. The interaction that takes place with the male sex hormone testosterone makes this particular treatment ineffective in male hair thinning or hair loss.
Minoxidil is the other core treatment for hair loss that is approved by the FDA and MHRA regulatory bodies. It encourages greater blood flow to the scalp, resulting in thicker hair strands. The treatment is available as a foam in the popular brand Regaine Foam for Men or as a solution under the name Regaine Extra Strength Solution. Simply massage the formula into the scalp twice per day. Thankfully this active ingredient works just as effectively in women as it does in men. For men, it can be used in tandem with Finasteride, and this is recommended for quickest and best hair results.