Male pattern hair loss, common in men over 50 and sometimes younger, is often attributed to higher testosterone levels. However, the link between testosterone and hair growth is not straightforward.
As a health optimization coach (and someone afraid of hair loss), I needed to research it.
So, I spent a day researching the subject and discussed the literature with an endocrinologist to see if scientific studies on testosterone levels could really explain hair loss.
- Bald men don't have high testosterone levels, but on the contrary, it is all about genetics.
- Individuals with more body hair are more likely to have high testosterone levels.
- Research indicates that baldness in men is more closely linked to genetics and the sensitivity of hair follicles to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone, rather than high testosterone levels alone.
- I believe focusing on overall health is more important than worrying about hair loss and testosterone levels.
- 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 for men.
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 much more to do with genetics than testosterone levels.
Let me explain.
Impact of Genetics and Testosterone on Hair Follicles
According to the National Library of Medicine, the impact of certain genetic markers determines the strength of hair follicles and, ultimately, hair loss .
T-levels influence hair loss, but the amount of testosterone is not the sole determinant of hair loss onset or rate.
Some enzymes transform testosterone into a more active form, directly shrinking hair follicles.
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.
Genetic Research on Baldness and Testosterone
Recent genetic studies from Researchgate have shown that baldness is more related to a person's genetic makeup than to high testosterone levels alone .
Genes that influence male pattern baldness can make hair follicles more sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone.
This increased sensitivity can lead to the miniaturization of follicles and, eventually, hair loss.
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.
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