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Men's Health > Hair Loss > Male Hair Loss Causes

Hair Loss Advice

It is still not fully understood what causes male hair loss, however in the past few years we've made incredible strides in identifying the major factors. The following old wives tales are very commonly believed, but are at times very illogical and almost always wrong. A good rule of thumb - if it didn't make you bald when you were 15, it's probably not making you bald now.

Stress

Probably not, unless you've undergone extreme physical or mental torture for months.

Poor Circulation

No. Male pattern baldness is not caused by a lack of circulation or nutrients to the follicle, whether it be by hats, ponytails, or anything else. There are conditions where trauma to the scalp has caused damage, but it wouldn't happen without you knowing it.

Sweat and Dirt

No. Beware of any treatment that claims it is "cleaning" the follicles of excess sebum, dirt, or sweat. Anyone who has ever had an ingrown hair can vouch for the fact that it takes a heck of a lot more than oil to stop a hair from growing through something. You sweat in high school, and you never lost a hair from it.

Wearing a Hat

No. The high school baseball team was never known to be the baldest team in school. Hat's do not cause hair loss.

Male Hair Loss Causes

DHT is a naturally occurring hormone, which assists with sexual development during your fetal days, and during puberty. DHT actually existed in the body even while we had full heads of hair. The problem arises when genetic switches cause changes in the follicles and men's overall biology. In follicles, there exists DHT and structures called "Androgen Receptors". In healthy hair follicles, these two substances combine to carry out normal processes and regulate normal hair growth. DHT is created as a result of another combination of Testosterone and something called 5-alpha-reductase. In summary, we have two combinations going on in the normal, non-balding man:

Testosterone and 5-alpha-reductase Enzyme combine to form DHT. DHT and Androgen Receptors combine to carry out the creation of normal proteins in follicles, which regulate the health, growth, and resting cycles of a follicle.

As men start to age, these two processes change. After puberty, Testosterone typically increases in the overall blood supply of most males. Consequently, the binding of Testosterone and 5-Alpha increases, causing more DHT to be produced (1). This of course results in an increase in binding between DHT and the Androgen Receptors (2). The increased binding then causes an imbalance in the biology and processes of the follicle. Overabundance of this activity directly affects the growth regulating that goes on in the follicle, which results in slower and less healthy growth each time the hair grows, rests, and regrows again. When DHT and the Androgen receptors were in normal abundance, binding at normal rates, hair growth regulation was also normal. Hair grew and fell as it should have. The overabundance however, throws the whole process off kilter.

The degradation process of the follicle is typically very slow, and takes many years, but the result is very apparent on the scalp to the hair loss sufferer. As hair continues through its growth and resting phases, each time a new hair grows from a DHT swamped follicle, it comes back thinner and shorter than it did the last time. Over several years, its growth degrades so much that it can no longer be seen. Thus is Androgenetic Alopecia - aka Male Pattern Baldness.

In order to stop hair loss in any way, you must be able to in some fashion alter the processes identified above, or usurp them by stimulating growth *despite* the effects of DHT. Treatments claiming to "wash" dirt out, increase circulation, or reduce sebum are quite simply, hairbrained ideas.

Drew Voight

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