Stopping Male Pattern Baldness - Hair Loss & Hair Transplant Surgery Guide

Can male hair loss be stopped?

Many men start to lose their hair at a relatively young age. In fact, it isn’t unusual for some men to begin losing their hair in their late teens or early twenties. For these men, the most important question is, ‘will that lost hair ever be replaced?’. And if not, why not?

The dilemma for many men is that, if they are self-conscious about their condition, the alternatives can sometimes seem just as excruciatingly embarrassing. If you’ve begun to lose your hair, will you feel any less self-conscious if you suddenly emerge one day wearing a toupe or hairpiece? Probably not. It would make life far easier if your real hair could just grow back.

In this article, we’ll look at why men lose hair, whether the condition is reversible and what options you have (other than wearing a hairpiece, of course). 

What is male-pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness is the most common reason why men lose hair. For most men with male-pattern baldness, it can take up to 25 years to go bald. For others, hair loss can occur entirely within a timeframe of five years.

Usually, by the time most men have reached their early 60s, they are showing some signs of baldness. However, as we mentioned, baldness can begin at virtually any age from late teens onwards. Research has shown that around one third of 30 year olds have male-pattern baldness, while when you get to 50 year olds, it is around 50%.

Male pattern baldness is actually a form of alopecia. Alopecia is really a name that covers a lot of different factors that contribute to baldness. Three of the most significant of those factors are disease, age and genetics.

Research from Kings College London in 2008 identified the gene regions that lead to male-pattern baldness. While the research showed that the mother’s side exerts the strongest influence, baldness on either side of the family would make men more likely to have male-pattern baldness later in life. Over 1000 men were tested and statistics showed that, for men who had activity in the gene regions identified as influencing male-pattern baldness, hair loss was seven times more likely to occur. Altogether, around 14% of the male population in the UK is thought to have the genetic make-up required for male-pattern baldness.

As well as genetics, there are a number of other factors that contribute to androgenic alopecia. As you would expect from the statistics that show most men are showing signs of baldness by their 60s, age is a contributory factor. Typically, hair thins at the front and the crown, leaving a fringe of hair around the back and sides of the head.

Can male-pattern baldness be cured?

One look at the type of products and techniques available to conceal bald spots should answer this question. Many men go to great lengths to ensure that they ‘comb over’ sections of their hair to cover baldness. Others change their hairstyle to make it less obvious. Others still wear wigs and toupes.

These sorts of measures cannot conceal the fact that your hair is not growing back. In many cases, they are less of an effort to disguise hair loss than an exercise in boosting self-confidence. Many wig wearers wear them because they feel more confident in their wig – almost as though it is an accessory to their outfit.

Unfortunately, hair loss is not reversible. If untreated, male-pattern baldness will continue along its natural course. If you do choose to treat your condition, then it is important to remember that there are no products on the market that can cure it. The hair you’ve already lost will unfortunately never grow back.

It is a common misconception that baldness can be cured. This misconception probably stems from two causes. Firstly, where there’s a will there’s a way, and most men with male-pattern baldness wish that their hair would grow back. That hope is something unscrupulous retailers can play on with clever marketing.

Secondly, there are some products on the market which can thicken your existing hair so that it appears as though it is growing back. Clearly, this isn’t quite the same as curing it, but it is probably the next best thing!

Finasteride is a prescribed tablet-form medicine that combats balding by stopping dihydrotestosterone from forming and therefore weakening the hair follicles. Therefore, if you begin the treatment early enough, and the male pattern balding is not particularly advanced, the existing follicles can strengthen and regrow. This creates the impression of reversing male-pattern baldness, although what is actually happening is that the process has been stopped rather than reversed.

Why doesn’t baldness affect all men in the same way?

Hippocrates, nearly 2500 years ago, noticed and commented on the fact that male-pattern baldness did not affect eunuchs. But it wasn’t until the 20th century that doctors identified the link between male-pattern baldness and dihydrotestosterone.

As we have seen, some men go bald because they are genetically disposed to do so. Their genetic make-up means that they produce more of a chemical called dihydrotestosterone, which weakens the hair follicles to the extent that they fall out and cannot grow back.

Many advances have been made in understanding male-pattern baldness and great steps forward have been made in isolating improved treatments. However, there are still many things that we don’t know. One simple question that scientists cannot answer, for example, is why armpits and beards remain unaffected. Why is it only our heads that go bald?

In the UK, 2/3rds of all men will succumb to male-pattern baldness. Altogether, that adds up to nearly seven and a half million individuals. Strangely, however, rates of baldness differ from race to race. While Caucasians and Afro-Caribbeans go bald the most, Chinese and Japanese men do bald much less. Male-pattern baldness, for some reason, does not occur at all among Native American men.

So there are still lots of questions to answer about male-pattern baldness. And who knows, maybe one day (if we study Native Americans enough) a cure will be found.