Androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) is by far the most common cause of hair loss amongst men and a serious problem for many women. For it to develop, three important components must come into play:
1. A genetic predisposition for balding to occur.
2. The presence of male hormones.
3. Aging - enough time for the first two factors to occur.
Despite the common perception, familial baldness patterns are not completely reliable as predictors of future hair loss. The fact that your parent or grandparent exhibited a given pattern does not guarantee your hair loss development will be the same. However, if your father was completely bald and you begin to lose hair excessively at an early age, it's safe to assume you will develop extensive balding.
All normal men and women produce male hormones such as testosterone and DHT. These hormones have a useful role to play in both sexes but it is the fact that androgens occur in much higher concentrations in men that explains why this type of hair loss is more common in males.
The effect of these hormones on hair follicles is as follows:
1. High levels of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase occur in cells of the hair follicle.
2. This enzyme converts testosterone into DHT.
3. DHT causes the robust terminal hairs to miniaturize.
4. This leaves soft, fine hairs that provide poor scalp coverage.
5. The growth phase becomes shorter until these soft hairs are lost for good.
Excessive hair loss can occur at any age and may even stop only to start again. As time progresses the process of hair loss accelerates leading to its logical conclusion.
Understanding this process helps to explain how the currently available treatments for male pattern baldness work. Propecia is one of only two FDA-approved hair loss treatments and it works by interfering with the process outlined above. In brief, Propecia inhibits the formation of DHT in the system thus slowing down and eventually stopping the adverse effects of DHT on the hair follicle.
Most of the non-drug, commercially prepared products operate on a similar basis by utilizing natural ingredients that attempt to interfere with the production of DHT. Presently the most popular natural ingredient is saw palmetto although some products combine this with other herbs such as pygeum, stinging nettle and green tea.
To find out more about these and other treatments for male pattern baldness, go to the site listed below.
Richard Mitchell is the creator of the myhairlossadvisor.com, website that provides information and guidance to those suffering from premature hair loss. Please go to Androgenetic Alopecia to learn more about the issues covered in this article.