Home > Causes of Hair Loss > What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?

What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 18 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Hair Loss Male Pattern Baldness

Hair loss experienced by men that tends to run in families is called male pattern baldness. This hereditary hair loss condition generally begins when a man is in his early 30s (although it can start earlier or later in life) and results in Permanent Baldness

Male Pattern Baldness

Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic Alopecia, is the most common cause for hair loss in men. The resulting hair loss is irreversible and follows a consistent pattern with hair loss or hair thinning beginning at the front hairline or temples and progressing back towards the base of the skull. Male pattern baldness rarely results in the complete loss of hair on the scalp, instead the condition usually progresses until the top of the scalp is bare but hair remains in a horseshoe shape around the head following a line of growth from just above the ears.

Currently there is no way to prevent male pattern baldness from occurring and the exact causes are yet to be totally understood. However, doctors agree that androgenetic alopecia has both hormonal and genetic influences.

Hormonal Causes

Hair follicles in the scalp are stimulated into growth, shedding and resting phases by a multitude of hormones and enzymes. However, the most important hormones to the Hair Growth Cycle are testosterone and DHT. DHT (dihydrotestosterone) a derivative of testosterone plays the biggest part in male pattern baldness.

During puberty, testosterone and DHT are responsible for simulating the enlargement and growth of hair follicles on the scalp, underarms, facial areas and pubic area. This stimulation causes the increased hair growth associated with puberty. However, these same hormones may cause the shrinking of hair follicles later in life. In cases of male pattern baldness, the response to DHT in the hair follicles of the scalp seems to be more pronounced and the shrinkage helps support the breakdown of the follicle until it is no longer able to produce hair. This process is also helped along by genetics.

Genetic Causes

The hair follicles in men who suffer from male pattern baldness seem to be genetically predisposed to be more susceptible to the harmful effects of testosterone and DHT later in life. This hereditary weakness makes it possible for the DHT to cause restricted hair growth more easily and fully on the scalp. It is thought that this weakness of the hair follicle is passed down through DNA from generation to generation.

The genetic side of male pattern baldness can also help men better understand their chances of developing androgenetic alopecia and better understand how the condition will affect them personally. By studying the tendency for baldness on both the mother's side and father's side of the family a man can usually pinpoint his predisposition for hair loss. By determining if the men in the family tend to be bald, how severe their baldness is, what pattern the hair loss follows, and the age of initial hair thinning men will be able to predict their own baldness course and take steps to prepare for the eventual hair loss.

Next Steps

If male pattern baldness runs in your family, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment plans that can slow down the hair loss, surgeries that can replace the hair loss or options for covering the hair loss. Find about the type of treatments that are available by reading some of the features in our Treating Hair Loss section.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Rus
    Re: Wigs and Allergies
    I’ve been a hair club client for over 15 years without any issues. Hair club says they use real hair and glue and tape are used to secure hair…
    25 February 2020
  • cam
    Re: One-sided Hair Loss
    Im a 29 year old woman and also have less hair on the right side of my head, It has been like this for years, that side also grows slower than…
    30 July 2019
  • Dani
    Re: Hair Integration Pieces
    Hi. I am desperately trying to find a intergrated mesh hair system that can be attached with either tapes or micro links that my…
    8 June 2019
  • haze
    Re: Starting to Wear a Wig
    Due to rapid hair loss I am thinking of getting a wig ,what type would people recommend,thank you
    22 February 2019
  • haze
    Re: Starting to Wear a Wig
    I am rapidly losing my hair and am thinking about getting a wig ,what sort would eolee recommend please .
    22 February 2019
  • Suzy
    Re: Poisoning and Hair Loss
    Happend to drink an 6 mounth old, not opend nutrition drink.. I don´t know if thats what cause my hair loss. The hair loss is in one…
    7 November 2018
  • Rylee
    Re: Can Head Lice and Parasites Cause Hair Loss?
    I keep seeing little brown bugs crawling up my shirt and I can’t stand it! My parents keep telling me it’s…
    24 October 2018
  • Lynda
    Re: How Often Should You Wash Your Wig?
    My wig gets rubbedd by coat collars etc and is getting to feel (and look like)a brillo pad on the bottom of shouder…
    20 October 2018
  • Tallulah
    Re: Infrared and UV Light Treatments
    I lost about a third of my hair during a period of stress. Would ultraviolet light treatment restimulate hair growth for me;…
    18 October 2018
  • minku
    Re: One-sided Hair Loss
    Sir i am loosing my hairs on right side on my temple area . So i want to know about the treatment option available and i am 21 years old.…
    13 September 2018