Male Pattern Baldness Guide

Learn more about what male pattern baldness is, how and when it occurs and how it can be treated

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Male Pattern Baldness is one of the most common types of hair loss for men in the world. You may have heard about it many times, but can you say you know what it is with confidence? Well, in this guide, we’re going to be explaining what male pattern baldness is, how it starts and what you can do to counteract it.

What is Male Pattern Baldness?

Male Pattern Baldness is simply a type of hair loss. Otherwise known as androgenetic alopecia, it is a hugely common reason for hair loss in British men. Nearly 70% of men in the UK will be affected by male pattern baldness in one way or another in their lifetime. 

What Does Male Pattern Baldness Look Like?

Androgenetic alopecia will present itself in a pretty regular fashion. There won’t be any drastic hair loss, but a gradual thinning and eventual loss. It will likely begin at your hairline, creating an ‘M’ shape in your hairline as the hair around your temples recedes. 

The crown of your head will also show displays of thinning and balding at around the same time as your hairline, eventually creating a bald spot. Your hairline will recede as your bald spot grows until they meet each other. The sides of your hair will be much less affected if at all.

What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?

For millions of men in the UK and beyond that will experience balding, the vast majority will be because of male pattern baldness. So what causes it if it’s so widespread? It’s all in the genes. Male pattern baldness is hereditary. There’s not really anything you can do to prevent it before it displays signs of showing, which can be as early as your teenage years. 

If we dig deeper into the science behind it, researchers and medical scientists have determined that the male pattern baldness gene affects how your hair follicles react to a hormone called DHT. The DHT hormone will cause your hair follicles to shrink if you have the male pattern baldness gene. Your hair will get thinner, smaller and shorter. They’ll take longer and longer to grow back and eventually, your hair follicle will shrink so much that no hair will grow out of it again.

There are no specific triggers for male pattern baldness in particular, if you have close relatives with it, then you can expect to experience it too. The timeframe for the baldness to appear is uncertain.  Things that will accelerate it are:

  • A lack of iron, or too much Vitamin A, in your diet
  • Scalp infections
  • High stress levels (In genetically susceptible people)
  • Tight hairstyles e.g cornrows, braids etc.

Where is Male Pattern Baldness Inherited From?

The common myth with male pattern baldness is that it’s inherited from your maternal grandfather. While there is a pattern that suggests this is true, there’s more to it than that as genetics are highly complex. We’ll do our best explain where the male pattern baldness gene is inherited from. 

One of the genes that closely linked to hair loss is known as the ‘AR Gene’. This is located on the X chromosome. In the instance of male pattern baldness, this means it was inherited from their mother, which then makes the whole maternal grandfather myth make sense. However, recent studies in to baldness find that it is not purely down to the content of our sex chromosomes but rather is informed by a host of polygenic variations - meaning that variations across multiple genes can be what causes male pattern baldness. 

This means that your hair loss can be inherited from either side of the family tree. You have a 50% chance of sharing the same X chromosome as your maternal grandfather.

Is Male Pattern Baldness Common?

Balding is an extremely common phenomenon for men. Only 5% of men will completely retain the straight hairline that we see in young boys. Statistically speaking, 30% of men will experience balding by the age of 30, over 50% of men over the age of 50 are affected by male pattern baldness and after the age of 70, 70% of men will be affected by it.

Hair loss and balding is generally regarded as a natural part of aging. Even if you don’t inherit male pattern baldness, through age your hair may thin and eventually fall out. 

Male pattern baldness is passed on through genes and simply put, our population is growing, which means that male pattern baldness continues to be passed down from generation to generation. And as the population grows it’s not unlikely that the rate of male pattern baldness is actually increasing in numbers alone, not so much in instance rates. 

This means that not only is male pattern baldness massively common today, but it will continue to be the most common reason for hair loss.

How to Diagnose Male Pattern Baldness

If you are displaying all the signs of male pattern baldness i.e a receding hairline, a bald spot, hair falling out when you comb it etc, then it is likely that you can diagnose yourself with male pattern baldness. Consider your family’s history with baldness, and your age and you should be able to quite instinctively know whether it’s male pattern baldness or not.

If you go to a medical professional, they will use what is called a densitometer to take a closer look at your hair follicles and ascertain their spacing and size. A biopsy will only be undertaken if they deem your hair loss to be caused by an external or chemical factor rather than male pattern baldness. 

Using something called the Norwood Scale, your doctor will then be able to diagnose how far along on the scale of male pattern baldness you are.

When Does Male Pattern Baldness Start?

There is no set answer to this. As we mentioned previously, 30% of men will already show signs of male pattern baldness by the age of 30. For some, signs of male pattern baldness show in their teens. The earlier that signs of male pattern baldness develop, the more comprehensive your hair loss will be. 

How to Treat Male Pattern Baldness

Male pattern baldness is treatable and the approach you take will by and large come down to what stage of baldness you catch it at. You can either go down a medicinal route, or a procedural route. It’s best to seek advice from a professional to see what treatment will be most effective for your hair loss situation. 

Hair loss affects so many and reversing the tide of male pattern baldness can lead to a better quality of life, through more confidence and a more positive self-image. If you want to know more about male pattern baldness and the treatments, or any other types of hair loss, then get in touch tod