While male pattern hair loss is extremely common for men over 50, it can also happen in younger men. And one of the common theories of young bald men is that hair loss is due to higher levels of testosterone.
But I was always curious if there was any significant association between testosterone and hair growth.
So, I spent a day going through research on the subject, and I discussed the literature with an endocrinologist to see if scientific studies on testosterone levels could really explain hair loss.
- The theory of a link between the male sex hormone and baldness goes back to the ancient Greeks, but modern science has some better explanations.
- Because testosterone influences facial and body hair growth in teenage boys, many people believe that it should also positively influence hair follicles on the head.
- As it turns out, genetics have a lot more to say in how your body converts testosterone in a way that impacts your hair.
Does Balding Mean You Have High Testosterone?
No, balding doesn’t mean you have high testosterone, and the myth could be as old as the ancient Greeks .
A similar theory also came up in the 20th century.
The whole idea was that castrated men don’t produce any testosterone, and therefore if they didn’t go bald, then it had to be testosterone that influenced the hair follicles.
But how much testosterone you do or don’t have doesn’t dictate whether or not you will go bald earlier or later in life.
What affects bald men has a lot more to do with genetics than testosterone levels.
Let me explain.
Impact of Genetics and Testosterone on Hair Follicles
In reality, it’s the impact of certain genetic markers that determines the strength of hair follicles and, ultimately, hair loss .
While T-levels play a role in this, it’s not the amount of testosterone that determines when men lose hair or how fast they lose it.
Here’s what that means.
There are enzymes that transform testosterone into a more active form, which directly shrinks hair follicles.
And dozens of genes influence how receptive follicles are to this process .
More on this process later.
So what does testosterone do in men? Men with both high or low T-levels could have the type of genes that make them more susceptible to balding.
While burly bald men might find it easier to attract female sexual partners, it’s not their testosterone that’s doing it.
“It’s often said that bald men are more virile. The popular theory is that they have higher levels of the male hormone testosterone, which makes them more masculine and increases their sex drive.”
- Claudia Hammond, Writer at BBC.com
The Hair Loss Myth
There are probably more medical myths around what’s happening to bald men than any other aging effect.
And unfortunately, one reason I believe these myths are still circulating comes down to the lucrative industry of hair loss treatments.
Overly simplistic ideas going back to the ancient Greeks might be a convenient way to do your marketing. But it’s not the way to approach scientific research.
Many bald men jump on the idea of sex hormones to grow more hair and buy into the concept of hormone creams and pills.
Are There Other Hormones Linked to Male Pattern Baldness?
The endocrinologist who helped me with the research for this post also pointed me to some research on alopecia in men.
This research has shown that baldness in men can be linked to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent androgen responsible for developing male traits .
As mentioned before, this form is basically an offshoot of testosterone, as it is a result of its conversion through an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase .
So, it’s partly true that hormones can influence the growth of new hairs, but just not in the way that most people believe.
It’s also important to note that for medical conditions like alopecia, there may be good reasons to opt for hair loss treatment. But that’s something you should discuss with a doctor.
Do Guys With More Body Hair Have More Testosterone?
Yes, guys with more body hair often have more testosterone. It’s the changes in the sex hormone levels during puberty that result in body and facial hair growth, and the same processes continue with age.
How Do You Know if a Guy Has High Testosterone?
You might know that a guy has high testosterone if they have rapidly bulked up, developed oily skin or acne, with possible mood swings. These are, of course, just common symptoms, not a bulletproof way to assess anyone's hormonal status.
But it’s not true that bald men always have a higher T-count and that this causes hair loss.
Consider Your T-Count Options
Unless you’re dealing with a serious health condition like prostate cancer where some medical hormone treatment is necessary, it’s often better to look for natural supplements.
Both bald men and those lucky enough to have the mane of an 80s rockstar can achieve high levels of testosterone with the best T-boosters.
These can help in the medium and long term to develop more muscle mass and also control weight gain. Give it a try and see how much it can impact your health and fitness levels.
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