Male pattern baldness (MPB), also called androgenetic alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss in men. According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 35. Attempts to treat hair loss is a billion dollar industry, even though the AHLA states, “99 percent of all products being marketed in the less-than-ethical hair loss treatment industry are completely ineffective for the majority of those who use them.” The following are 8 things you need to know about male pattern baldness:** 1. Male pattern baldness causes thinning and loss of hair on the top of your head. It does not affect your crown or temples.** The bald areas form the letter ‘M’ on the top of your head. If thinning or baldness spreads to sides of your head or temples, there might be an underlying health condition such as thyroid problems or nutritional deficiencies.
2. MPB is caused by DHT interfering with hair growth. DHT is a byproduct of testosterone and when it attaches itself to a hair follicle it causes it to shrink. Your hair slowly becomes finer as the hair follicle becomes smaller until it is closed and hair is no longer produced in the follicle.
3. You can inherit your risk of balding from either side of your family. You might look at your father and think that because he hasn’t gone bald, you won’t either, but that isn’t necessarily true. Check out your mother’s side of the family as well. The tendency to go bald can come from either side.
4. Many of the advertised hair loss shampoos don’t work and haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are some - Propecia (finasteride) and Rograine (minoxidil) - that have been approved for the treatment of hair loss. However, these treatments are better at slowing down the process of hair loss, allowing you to keep what you have, rather than regrowing lost hair.
5. You can experience side effects from Propecia. This treatment blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT (the main culprit in hair loss). But by doing so, it can also affect the nerve-signaling pathways to the penis and lower your libido, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Although these side effects are rare, if you are going to try Propecia, you should be aware of them.
6. You should do research before deciding on a treatment. Because there are many treatments, including medication, shampoos, laser treatment and hair restoration surgery. Many people waste their money trying different treatments, some of which work and some of which don’t. Do your research, check on any clinic before paying money and talk to your doctor about what might be best for you.
7. Not everyone with MBP will become bald. Some will experience only thinning of their hair. Some will lose most of their hair. The age that you first noticed thinning of your hair or hair loss might offer a clue. Those who begin to lose their hair at the age of 18 have a higher chance of becoming bald, those who don’t lose their hair until later - late twenties or thirties, might only experience thinning of their hair. The aggressiveness of your hair loss is also a clue - the more aggressive your hair loss is, the higher your chance of becoming bald.
8. Hats, playing with your hair and using hair products do not cause baldness. Myths that wearing a hat or cap increases your chances of going bald still make their rounds. The same is often said about hair gels, hair spray and playing with your hair. These are not causes of male pattern baldness - genetics cause MPB.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.