Although all men will experience hair loss throughout their life, when, why and to what extent can differ considerably. We take a look at male pattern baldness, the causes behind it and the available treatments.
Why do men lose their hair?
Male pattern baldness (MPB) is the most common form of hair loss, with more than half of all men experiencing it to some degree in their lifetime.
It’s thought that 50% of men over 50 have some degree of hair loss1
There are many names for male pattern baldness. These include androgenetic alopecia, hereditary hair loss and male pattern hair loss.
MPB tends to start with a receding hairline as hair thins at the temples. Thinning hair on the crown of your head is also common, resulting in a bald spot.
Although women can also suffer from androgenetic alopecia, it is less common and rarely leads to total baldness.
What causes male pattern hair loss?
It is likely that a variety of causes come into play, both genetic and environmental, though it is considered a hereditary condition.
Some scientists believe that certain genes are responsible for androgenetic alopecia, but more research needs to be done.
Researchers have found a link between MPB and hormones called androgens, which aid male sexual development as well as affecting how hair grows. If levels of these male sex hormones are too high, it can damage your hair follicles.
However, we are not yet sure exactly how these factors come into play.1
At what age do men go bald?
MPB affects all men differently, starting at different ages and progressing at different rates.
On average it takes 15-25 years for men to go completely bald. This process can begin at any age. About two thirds of men are either bald or have a balding pattern by the age of 60.
In a nutshell, there is no particular age when you can expect to see hair loss.
How do I know if I’m starting to go bald?
To gain an idea of when you are likely to go bald, it is important to note the time significant hair loss begins.
Usually, each strand of hair survives for around four years. Once this cycle is over, the hair follicle falls out and within six months is replaced by a new one.
In the case of MPB, hair follicles thin and fall but do not re-grow. Thinning and hair loss usually begins at the temple and the crown of the head - resulting in a bald spot. Often hair elsewhere continues to grow at the same rate as ever.
The extent to which your scalp is affected by this process (i.e. the speed at which you will go bald) is hereditary. For some men, the process goes from start to complete baldness in five years.
How do I know it’s definitely hereditary hair loss?
It is important to note that hair shedding is not always an indication of male pattern baldness.
On average the average scalp contains about 100,000 hairs, and each of us will lose between 50 to 100 hairs per day. This figure is useful to remember when hair styling or perhaps noticing the odd strand of hair on your pillow.
In contrast, if you are losing patches of hair in an apparently random manner you may have alopecia. In this circumstance, hair loss can occur from any part of the scalp or body.
Also, remember that male pattern baldness is a gradual process, so in circumstances when hair loss is rapid, it is recommended that you seek medical advice to determine whether there are any underlying health issues.
Certain lifestyle factors can also encourage hair loss. Poor diet and stress can both lead contribute, as can certain medications. In these instances, hair loss is rarely permanent. It may well slow or even reverse once the underlying causes are addressed.
If your hair loss does not seem to fit the pattern of MPB, speak to your doctor. They’ll help with the diagnosis or treatment of any underlying causes.
Can you stop male pattern baldness?
Unfortunately there is no guaranteed baldness cure.
There are available treatments, but there is no one-size-fits-all cure for male pattern hair loss.
Remember, MPB is not anything to worry about. It is very common and poses no threat to your health unless it is caused by an underlying problem.
Most men go bald, it’s a fact of life. If you don’t feel the need to do anything about it, just don’t.
Still, many men struggle mentally and emotionally with losing their hair. If this is the case, there are various options available that may help.
Treatments for male hair loss
1. Wigs and toupées
Wigs or weaves are an age-old solution for covering bald spots, if a little out of favour these days.
Finasteride and minoxidil are the main medications available in the UK for male pattern baldness.
Both can potentially slow down hair loss as well as encouraging hair growth.
However, they won’t work for everyone, and they won’t regrow all of your hair. Also, the effects normally stop if you stop taking the medication.
3. Hair transplant
Hair transplant procedures have come a long way in the last decade and as such have grown in popularity.
This is a cosmetic procedure that involves grafting hair from another part of your head onto the bald spot. This can either be done by grafting a strip of skin or by grafting hair one follicle at a time.
It is a serious operation that should be considered at length. Be sure to speak to a qualified and experienced surgeon and ask them questions about their track record with the procedure.
4. A good haircut
These days it’s become acceptable and even stylish to have a shaved head. Many balding men choose to brave the shave once their hair loss becomes noticeable.
If you don’t want to embrace a smooth scalp, speak to your barber or hairdresser and ask for their advice on the best haircut for you. Sometimes a new style can make what seemed like drastic hair loss look insignificant.
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