Male Pattern Baldness - Hair Loss & Hair Transplant Surgery Guide

Male pattern baldness is also known as androgenic alopecia, or common baldness. It is the loss of hair from the front, top and sides of the forehead. Usually the remaining hair forms a horseshoe shape covering the back and sides of the head. It is a very common problem, with over half of the male population experiencing some level of baldness after the age of 50. The problem can occur any time after puberty, although it most commonly occurs during or after middle age. The problem can be apparent from the early twenties, and the rate of hair loss is very variable.


The most common cause is male hormones, known as androgens, which cause a reaction in the hair follicles. Men with male pattern baldness have the same levels of male hormones as other men; however, their hair follicles have a stronger reaction to it. The main male hormone involved in the reaction is testosterone. Both men and women have testosterone in the bodies, but men have it in higher quantities. Testosterone is changed into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, when it reacts with the skin on the scalp. If the hair follicles are sensitive to DHT, they shrink, producing gradually thinner hair, and eventually stop entirely.

To confuse matters, DHT has different effects on different areas of the body, and so can help hair growth on the chest and face. As a result, men with baldness can still grow beards and have hairy chests.

If you have family members with male pattern baldness, it is possible that you can inherit the trait that makes your follicles sensitive to DHT. It can be inherited from either side of the family. Female family members are usually unaffected, although they may develop thinning hair after the onset of the menopause.

As you age, balding becomes more likely, with the majority of elderly people having thinner hair.


Treatments can include wigs and hair transplants, surgical options and medical treatment. For more information, see the section on treatment.