What ACTUALLY Causes Hair Loss for Men & Women? (Part 1)
Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Experiencing Hair Loss and/or Hair Thinning? We've all seen it, and many of us have or will eventually experience it.
In fact, over half of the men in the U.S will experience hair loss at some point in their lives, and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) calculates that over 80 million men and women have hereditary hair loss (alopecia) in the U.S. alone.
To find a solution, we need to understand the actual root (pun intended) problem.
So what really causes hair loss?
Hair loss can be complicated and is often attributed to several factors, including genetics, age, stress (a big one), lifestyle influences, traumatic events, illnesses/disorders, surgeries, hormonal changes/imbalances, certain medications, and daily diet.
Let's break it down and see some of the most common reasons for hair loss.
As mentioned earlier, Androgenetic Alopecia, more commonly known as Male Pattern Balding, is one of the most widely cited reasons for Hair Loss. Women are susceptible to Androgenetic Alopecia as well, with an estimated 30 million women affected in the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SO, what exactly is it?
Essentially, we humans have sex hormones that play a significant role in our natural overall growth and development. Among the major categories are estrogen, progestogens, and androgens.
Androgens are commonly associated with the development of 'male characteristics' such a deep voice, muscle mass, body hair, development of male sexual organs, sperm production, etc. (In general, estrogen, progestogens, and androgens are present in both men and women, just in different amounts.)
A particular androgen that is strongly correlated to hair growth is Dihydrotestosterone, also known as 'DHT.' Approximately 10% of your testosterone is converted into DHT by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase (5-AR) by the testes and prostate in men and by the ovaries in women, respectively.
As more testosterone increases in the body, more of it is typically converted into DHT.
So know we have all this 'DHT' in our body, so what?
Well, actually, an excessive amount of DHT in the bloodstream can directly impact the end receptors on the follicles located on your scalp.
Follicles are literally all over your body underneath your skin and are miniature-sized capsules that can hold a single strand of hair.
The impacted follicles shrink, thereby decreasing reducing healthy hair growth. If enough follicles are impacted, then hair loss and hair thinning can occur as a result. DHT can also can delays in hair regrowth even after older hair strands have fallen out.
It's important to know that everyone is different and your genetics play a role in follicle receptivity to DHT in that the impact can be mild or severe.
So now that we know excessive DHT is one of the leading causes of hair loss, what can be done about it?
Many prescriptions primarily address DHT-related male/female pattern baldness. These medications attempt to either a) explicitly focus on DHT creation, or b) target the follicle receptor itself.
These two prescriptions are generally known as:
Blockers: These medications attempt to mitigate DHT from attaching to your receptors found in your hair follicles that would otherwise shrink the hair follicles and cause hair loss/thinning
Inhibitors: Just like it sounds, these medications try to inhibit and reduce your body's creation of DHT in the first place
However, WARNING, a possible range of side effects can result when taking these medications ranging in severity that should be strongly considered, such as the following:
Scalp rash & irritation
premature ejaculation or delayed ejaculation
nausea & vomiting
abnormal darkening and or thickening of body hair hairs
congestive Heart Failure
These are some of the most common side effects, which brings to question, are these medications worse than the ailment?? Not only that, but some of these medications can also actually cause an unhealthy dependency in which you must keep taking the medication to attain results, otherwise you risk hair loss as soon as the medication stops, something to strongly consider.
We'll explore additional causes for Hair Loss in (Part Two).
4 Tips to Keep From Losing Your Hair - Video - Sharecare. https://www.sharecare.com/video/mens-health/mens-health/4-tips-to-keep-from-losing-your-hair
NIH U.S. Library of Medicine
Sex Steroid (aka Sex Hormones)