What is Male Pattern Hair Loss?

Male pattern hair loss is a condition that is also referred to as androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. It is generally known to be related to hormones in both males and females. Genetically, there is a predisposition to the condition. In other words, if your father or grandfather suffered from male pattern hair loss, it is likely that you will as well.

With male pattern hair loss, the patient may lose hair due to a ‘miniaturization’ of the hair follicle. This androgenic miniaturization is the most common cause of male pattern hair loss and will affect up to seventy percent of men at some point in their lifetime. Let’s take a look at the condition in terms that are simple to understand:

Each hair on your head lives in small hole called a follicle. Most of the time, the size of the follicle remains the same, and normal hair continues to grow from it. However, in cases of male pattern hair loss, for some reason, the follicle shrinks. The end result of this shrinkage of the follicle, is shorter finer hair, or no hair growth at all.

At some point, even though the hair follicle itself will remain alive and open in-spite of its smaller size, hair simply stops growing. This condition is called male pattern hair loss.

What Are The Causes of Male Pattern Hair Loss?


Hormonal Changes

As noted, male pattern hair loss is mainly due to hormonal changes. In particular, a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can become imbalanced. Too much DHT in the scalp can lead to a shortened anagen phase, which will lead to reduced production of hairs. The hairs that do continue to grow will be much finer.

Heredity

The chances of developing male pattern hair loss are significantly increased if someone else in your family has experienced the condition.

Hair Loss Signs and Symptoms

Male pattern hair loss begins with a noticeable thinning of the hair. You may begin to notice thinning around your temples. Some men first notice thinning towards the back of the head (crown). You also may notice more shedding than usual, such as in the shower or on your pillow in the morning.

Hair Loss Treatment and Prevention


There is a variety of treatments and prevention options available to slow the progress of male pattern hair loss:

Rogaine/Minoxidil

One of the most popular products available in the market today is Rogaine (minoxidil). Rogaine is applied to the scalp twice a day – in the morning and again at bedtime. The product works by helping to balance out the levels of DHT in the scalp, thereby reducing the sensitivity and irritation that too much DHT causes to the hair follicles.

It’s important to note that in order to consistently benefit from the use of Rogaine, you must use it continually. If you discontinue use, any newly grown hair may fall out.

Propecia/Finasteride

Another popular and effective option is a product called Propecia (finasteride). Propecia is taken orally in pill form. As with Rogaine, continued use of the product is necessary to see continued benefits.

Hair Transplant Surgery

For some patients, the use of drugs such as Rogaine and Propecia simply does not provide the result they desire. Increasingly, male pattern hair loss sufferers are turning to hair transplant surgery to restore their lost hair. Hair transplant surgery is permanent and allows most patients to achieve the desired density.

The Norwood Scale


  • Stage I: shows an adolescent hairline, generally located on the upper brow crease. There is no hair loss at the hairline or crown of the head.
  • Stage II: demonstrates the progression to an adult hairline, which sits slightly above the upper brow crease. Hair loss at this stage is very mild and usually concentrated at the frontal hairline.
  • Stage III: is the earliest stage of hair loss considered cosmetically significant enough to be called “baldness” according to this scale. At this stage, most men show a deep symmetrical recession at the temples, which are either bare or only sparsely covered with hair. The vertex figure here shows the additional thinning of the hair at the crown of the head.
  • Stage IV: includes a deepening recession at the front of the head in the temple areas. Hair loss at the crown is evident and often a bridge of moderately dense hair will separate hair loss at the front of the scalp from that at the vertex or the crown of the head. The sides of the head are typically well-covered with hair.
  • Stage V: marks the beginning of severe hair loss. While there remains a small separation between the loss of hair at the hairline and the loss of hair at the crown, the band of hair between the two is much thinner and narrower. Hair loss at both the crown and the temporal regions are larger and more distinct.
  • Stage VI: The bridge of hair that once separated the front of the head from the crown is now almost fully lost, only a few sparse strands may persist. The remaining hair now forms a horseshoe shape around the baldness concentrated in the center of the scalp. Hair loss on the sides of the head will also extend further at this stage.
  • Stage VII: The most advanced stage of hair loss, only a wreath of thin hair remains on the sides and back of the scalp.