Why Do Men Go Bald? Here's What Experts Say
It's probably not all that surprising to learn that male balding is very common, affecting about 30% to 50% of men by the time they reach age 50. But just because it’s common doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Hair thinning, loss and balding can be a significant source of stress, embarrassment and strife.
Why do men go bald? Read on to understand male pattern balding, why it happens. Plus, discover the top VEGAMOUR picks for men.
The Most Common Culprit: Androgenetic Alopecia
The most common cause of male balding is a condition called androgenetic alopecia (AGA). You’ve probably heard of AGA before, as it’s commonly referred to as male pattern hair loss and male pattern balding. It also goes by the name androgenic alopecia.
“Male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of two elements,” explained Celestine Gitau, a trichologist and registered nurse who runs the Hair Scalp and Health blog. Hormones and genetics play a major role in AGA, though environmental factors like diet and lifestyle, along with other risk factors, likely play a role, too. While research on AGA has been ongoing for decades, there is still much about this hair loss condition we have not yet uncovered.
What we have uncovered is that some people’s hair follicles have a genetic predisposition to become overly sensitive to androgen hormones, and in particular, the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Over time, DHT causes affected hair follicles to produce thinner and finer strands of hair, have shorter hair growth cycles and delay new growth once a strand is shed. Eventually, affected hair follicles stop producing hair altogether, which results in baldness.
Researchers have been investigating the genetics linked to AGA, and while they believe that several genes are involved, one seems to play an important role: the androgen receptor gene. This gene is responsible for producing androgen receptors, which in turn pick up androgenic hormones in the body like DHT. People who have AGA have variations in the AR gene that leads to an increase in DHT activity in hair follicles.
At What Age Does Male Pattern Hair Loss Happen?
Androgenetic alopecia in men typically begins in their 30s and 40s, but it may begin even earlier and can affect men of all ages.
It’s commonly cited that by age 50, about half of men will have some degree of hair loss, though more recent studies suggest that number may be higher. One epidemiological study found that 67% of men with an average age of 37 had AGA.
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Is Androgenetic Alopecia Different in Men and Women?
Both women and men can develop AGA, and it’s estimated that in the United States alone, about 50 million men and 30 million women have this hair loss condition. While less research has been done on female AGA, the major difference between male and female pattern balding is the pattern.
For men, “pattern baldness typically begins with a receding hairline from the front and progresses to thinning at the crown of the head,” explained Dr. Alpana Mohta, a board-certified dermatologist and adviser at BetterGoods. “Men are also more likely to go completely bald than women.”
In women, AGA may not follow a predictable pattern. However, it typically leads to a widening of the part, thinner temples and thinning hair over the entire scalp instead of a receding hairline that's seen in men. In addition, women with AGA don't typically go totally bald.
Other Causes of Male Baldness or Thinning
While AGA is the most common cause of male balding, there are other common causes of hair shedding and balding in men.
Telogen effluvium is a temporary condition that affects women more frequently, but it can impact both men and women at any age. This condition is triggered by a major stressor —physical or psychological — that eventually leads to an intense bout of hair shedding. The good news is that it does not lead to total hair loss and typically resolves on its own.
Get the Full Picture: Telogen Effluvium Explained
Some medical conditions can cause or contribute to thinning and loss. Autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata often result in partial balding that can become more severe and even permanent. Thyroid disorders are also commonly linked to hair thinning.
In addition, researchers believe there may be connections between the development of AGA and other health conditions, including:
- Coronary heart disease
- Enlarged prostate
- Prostate cancer
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
Because some of these conditions may be linked to elevated androgen levels, it would explain their connection to AGA, though more research is needed.
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Many medications can impact hair growth. In particular, blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers may cause hair thinning and loss. Chemotherapy drugs often trigger anagen effluvium, which can lead to temporary baldness, and thyroid medications have been linked to thinning and loss, as well. If you’ve started a new medication and are noticing hair loss, be sure to speak to your doctor.
Find Out: These 12 Medications May Cause Hair Loss
Nutritional deficiencies have also been linked to AGA in men, and more generally, nutritional deficiencies can impact your hair follicles since they require a variety of different vitamins, minerals and nutrients to function.
Holistic Hair Care for Male Pattern Balding
Conventional treatments for male pattern balding are plentiful and most often include topical treatment like minoxidil or oral medications like finasteride. These treatment options can help stimulate hair growth and are reasonably effective but can have unwanted side effects and must be used daily indefinitely to maintain any new growth.
Today there are also surgical options available, such as hair transplants using follicular unit extraction, for example, that can be quite successful.
Taking a holistic approach to hair health can also help. After all, hair wellness comes from the inside out! Here are a few easy ways to help support healthy hair follicles.
Lifestyle factors like smoking have been linked to AGA, and in fact, smoking can even cause premature hair graying. If you smoke tobacco, cutting it out can help improve circulation to your follicles and has innumerable other benefits for your overall health.
If you have AGA or any other form of hair shedding and/or loss, it’s important to treat your follicles gently. That means no tight hairstyles, minimal heat styling, gentle combing and brushing, shampooing less frequently and avoiding chemical treatments.
Simple changes to your hair care routine can have big benefits to hair follicles. One thing you can add to your routine to support follicular health is the GRO+ Advanced Hair Serum. Our bestselling serum, which is fortified with powerful phyto-actives and micro-encapsulated, broad-spectrum CBD, has been shown in clinical studies to increase the appearance of hair density by 52% while decreasing signs of shedding by 76%.
Exercise has so many health benefits, including for your scalp and hair follicles! Cardio exercise improves blood circulation, which is important for the health and functioning of follicles.
Eat a Varied and Healthy Diet
As we covered earlier, nutrition is an important part of hair health since the follicles need a variety of nutrients to function. A varied diet that focuses primarily on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins is an easy way to ensure you’re doing all you can to support healthy hair growth.
And, when you need a nutritional boost, you can look to hair-friendly supplements like our GRO+ Advanced Gummies. Formulated with biotin, folic acid, zinc, vitamin D, A and E along with several other beneficial nutrients, our GRO+ gummies harness the power of hemp-derived CBD to help support thicker, fuller looking hair.
Stress, and its sister hormone cortisol, can have impacts on your hair — especially if you’re chronically stressed. Stress can also trigger telogen effluvium, and it’s been linked to autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata. Stress management is an essential tool in a healthy hair toolkit.
The most common cause of male balding is a hair loss condition called androgenetic alopecia. While its exact causes are not yet fully understood, AGA has been linked to genetic predisposition and the male hormones dihydrotestosterone and testosterone. Other common causes of thinning and loss include lifestyle, diet, medical conditions and some medications. If you’ve noticed changes in your hair, be sure to speak to your doctor to investigate the root cause of the issue since hair loss has a wide variety of causes.
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