Hair loss is a common occurrence. It affects about seventy percent of men who will exhibit certain signs of balding to a varying degree. An example of this is male pattern balding or androgenic alopecia. It has a very noticeable pattern and its onset begins at the temporal regions of the scalp. The hair loss gradually progresses backward which results in an M-shaped hair pattern. A small bald spot beginning at the vertex region of the scalp follows this and radiates outward. Hair at the frontal central region also begins to recede and progress toward the back of the scalp. These areas will continue to exhibit hair loss until the entire top portion of the scalp is devoid of hair. All that will remain is a horseshoe type hair pattern that will run along the lower sides and back of the scalp.
The process on how this occurs begins with the fusing together of the hormone testosterone with the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. This results in a more potent hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), five times more powerful than testosterone. It is the DHT that actually binds with the androgen receptors of the hair follicles resulting in the blockage of nutrients being received by it through the papilla of hair. The hair follicle slowly begins to shrink because of the lack of vitamins and minerals it receives due to the barrier effect caused by the DHT. This results in the hair loss as the hair slowly becomes shorter and less thick until it is reduced to a peach fuzz type of growth. The hair follicle goes into its last stages when this happens and will eventually be without a hair shaft, leaving it dormant.
Studies have shown that the amount of testosterone in one’s body is only a factor leading to hair loss. It is not the primary reason however, why a male would be more predisposed to having androgenic alopecia. Hair loss is also influenced by the amount of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme in the body. The more of this enzyme that one has, the larger the possibility for it to fuse with testosterone to produce DHT. It does not end there however. One’s hair loss is also highly influenced by the sensitivity of the androgen receptors in the hair follicles. The more sensitive it is, the more likely that DHT will fuse with it to cause the blockage of nutrients that leads to the shrinkage of hair follicles.
This is where the role of genetics comes into the picture. Some people have more sensitive androgen receptors than others due to their genetic make-up. It does not really matter if one has a high or low level of testosterone in their body. What really matters is the how high the probability of the DHT hormone will fuse with the androgen receptor of the hair follicle. It should be stressed that even if there is a high amount of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, it will not matter if its end product with testosterone cannot effectively block the nutrients from reaching the hair follicle.
In closing, one may say that there is a definite link between testosterone and hair loss because it is required to create DHT. The main culprit however is the degree of sensitivity of the androgen receptors in the hair follicle, not the volume of testosterone present.