The relationship between testosterone and hair loss is worth probing. And for all it’s worth, the medical community has done so and will continue to do so.
From analytical and professional perspectives, the link between hair loss and testosterone is multifaceted, and those facets are complex worlds on their own.
From a lay perspective, the debate is often about the relationship between low testosterone and hair loss. In some cases, the debates are the other way around — dissecting the relationship between high testosterone and hair loss.
Whatever angle you choose to debate, you’ll find some points that seem to support your positions. But really, does testosterone affect hair growth? Does testosterone affect hair loss?
Today, we’ll find answers to these crucial questions and other similar ones with clarity.
Androgens are a collection of sex hormones working together or separately in roles that enhance body development and reproductive health. In men, the roles span from developing sperm and muscles to influencing hair growth, deep voice, bone density, and sexual functions and desires.
Testosterone is the prime androgen in men and women. Other androgens include Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S), androstenedione, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
The testicles, adrenal glands, and ovaries all produce testosterone. Various factors determine how much testosterone the trio produces; hence, T levels could be high or low at different points in your life.
As a matter of fact, testosterone levels fluctuate during the day, often peaking in the mornings and dwindling as the day progresses.
Experts focus on two forms of testosterone when measuring T levels:
- Free testosterone is not bound to proteins and is regarded as the active testosterone.
- Total testosterone is a measure of both free testosterone and testosterones attached to proteins. When testosterone binds to proteins like albumin, it becomes nearly unavailable to the body.
The lower the level of testosterone bound to proteins, the higher the amount of free testosterone in your bloodstream.
DHT and Testosterone
DHT is a vital piece in the journey to understanding the connection between hair loss and testosterone.
DHT is the most potent androgen. It has a much higher affinity (approximately double of testosterone) to the androgen receptor and binds to the receptors for a much longer time (five times more) than testosterone.
Although testosterone and DHT are both types of androgens, DHT’s existence depends on the existence of testosterone. With high testosterone levels in your bloodstream, your body has more testosterone to convert to DHT.
5-alpha-reductase (5-AR), an enzyme, uses nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) to convert or reduce testosterone to DHT. The enzyme converts nearly 10% of the testosterone you produce daily, and the conversion happens in the testes, prostate, skin, and liver.
Being that DHT is synthesized from testosterone, some medical experts consider DHT to be a more potent form of testosterone.
In most cases, high testosterone equals high DHT. However, in some individuals with low T, the DHT levels could still be considered to be reasonably high due to their potency.
Irrespective, significantly low T could also translate to significantly low DHT. Either way, very high or very low DHT lead to unpleasant issues.
Connecting the Dots
The role of DHT in males changes as they mature from childhood through puberty to adulthood. However, throughout a man’s lifetime, DHT is the predominant androgen responsible for body hair, facial hair, prostate growth, and pubic hair.
As an adult, DHT’s overall impact thins out, with its significant effects being nearly limited to the prostate and hair. When too low or too high, the result could be prostate enlargement and/or male pattern hair loss.
How Does DHT Cause Hair Loss?
So far, it’s clear that to understand the connection between testosterone and hair loss, you must understand how DHT causes hair loss.
Earlier, we noted that testosterone becomes unavailable when it attaches to proteins. Something similar happens with DHT and hair follicles.
Your facial hair, body hair, and pubic hair all grow through follicles. These follicles contain hair strands that continue to grow out hair throughout the hair growth cycle, usually two to five years. At the end of the cycle, the hair strand falls out, and the follicle produces new hair to replace it.
In the underarms and the pubic region, DHT appears to make hair follicles thicker. However, when free-flowing DHT binds to androgen receptors on hair follicles on your scalp, it makes the follicles thinner and weaker. As the follicles shrink, it becomes harder to grow healthy hair.
As a result, the individual suffers hair loss.
The Gravity Theory
A controversial theory suggests that the scalp of younger men has sufficient subcutaneous fat to support scalp pressure and keep it hydrated. Hence there is less internal pressure on the scalp and hair follicles.
In older men, testosterone appears to have effects that thin the subcutaneous fat, making it more difficult for the scalp to handle pressure. In a weird roundabout manner, the hair follicles then demand more testosterone to attain normal hair growth. Unfortunately, this demand also means an increased conversion of testosterone to DHT by 5-AR in the scalp only.
Consequently, as the DHT levels increase, the subcutaneous fat thins, the hair follicles are put under more pressure, and the individual continues to lose hair progressively. It’s a cycle that runs repeatedly until hair stops growing entirely in the affected regions, usually the front and crown of the head.
This theory also suggests that these activities explain why DHT is mostly found in the scalp.
Now, let’s come back to the question: does testosterone affect hair growth? And does testosterone cause hair loss?
Does Testosterone Affect Hair Growth?
Does testosterone affect hair growth? Yes, testosterone affects hair growth. Generally, the androgens play key roles in hair growth. In moderate proportions, androgens can make your hair thicker and darker.
Experts believe that androgens are the obvious regulators of hair growth in humans. Humans need androgens to form long pigmented hair on the face, pubis, armpit, scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
Therefore, when there are low testosterone levels or the absence of androgen activities, the human body finds it hard to sufficiently grow hair. The lack could affect all hair on the body, including the scalp, face, axillae, and the pubic region.
This notion is backed by an observation of eunuchs, which suggests androgen dependence on male pattern hair loss. With this knowledge in view, the connection between low testosterone and hair loss is well-established.
Does Testosterone Cause Hair Loss?
We have established that low/absence of testosterone affects hair growth, Thus, providing a link between low testosterone and hair loss. But, does testosterone cause hair loss?
One of the common testosterone baldness myths is that having high testosterone causes hair loss. However, existing scientific indications suggest that DHT is the prime factor when considering the “Does testosterone cause hair loss?” question.
A direct connection between hair loss and testosterone revolves around the various processes that happen from DHT synthesis to its effects on hair follicles.
So, does testosterone cause hair loss? The right answer comes with a bit of technicality.
If, as stated earlier, we’re considering DHT as a more potent form of testosterone, then the answer is yes. If considering the question in view of the low testosterone and hair loss connection, the answer is also yes.
However, if we’re considering testosterone and DHT as separate androgens, then DHT takes the cake as the androgen predominantly responsible for hair loss. The argument would be that the effects of high or low testosterone often stop at DHT synthesis. DHT completes the process of miniaturizing the hair follicles.
How to Prevent Hair Loss
You don’t have to go far to see many hair loss remedies. However, before deciding what to go for, you must note that other factors could cause hair loss, and remedies for testosterone hair loss may not be the best option for you if your hair loss is genetic or caused by other conditions.
DHT blockers are the best hair loss remedies for DHT hair loss. They’re usually prescriptions, and you should only take them after a medical expert confirms they are the best option for you.
Other remedies for treating hair loss caused by other conditions include the following:
- Alopecia areata
- Bamboos hair
- Celiac disease
- Lichen planus
- Scalp infections.
- Thyroid conditions
That said, let’s take a look at solutions for testosterone hair loss.
DHT blockers are medical products that limit or block DHT from completing the sinister process of miniaturizing hair follicles.
How do DHT blockers work? When you take a DHT block, the active ingredient (differs, depending on what you’re taking) will bind to the androgen receptors in the hair follicles. Thereby preventing DHT from binding to the said androgen receptors to miniaturize the follicles.
Below are some medically researched DHT blockers for which you can get a prescription.
Finasteride is one of the most touted DHT blockers in the world. A 3-year study examining the effects of the finasteride on 2561 Japanese men found that 2230 out of the 2561 men experienced improved hair growth.
Minoxidil has a similar history to Viagra. Like Viagra, minoxidil was a vasodilator initially formulated for patients with high blood pressure. However, medical experts observed that one of the side effects of the drugs was improved hair growth.
Some of the patients who took minoxidil for high blood pressure experienced significant hair growth. Consequently, FDA-approved topical variants were formulated to prevent hair loss and enhance hair regrowth.
Unlike finasteride which works as a DHT blocker, minoxidil works as a vasodilator dilating the blood vessels in the scalp to promote the circulation of nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles.
In the quest to demystify the relationship between hair loss and testosterone, you’ll most likely come across DHT-blocking shampoos, just as you have now.
Most manufacturers of DHT-blocking shampoos claim their shampoos have active ingredients such as saw palmetto, biotin, and kapilarine complex, which may be able to block DHT.
Other Supplements for Hair Loss
Some supplements are popular among balding men as good solutions for hair loss. These supplements don’t necessarily operate with DHT-blocking mechanisms. Rather, alone or in combination with other supplements or drugs, they’re able to reduce DHT levels or nourish the hair follicles.
Some of the common supplements for testosterone hair loss include:
- Nurafol men
- Vitamins C, D, and A
You can learn more about these supplements for hair loss in our previous article.
Approaching Hair Loss Prevention with Caution
Before taking any hair loss treatment, it’s important to note that apart from hair transplants which produce immediate results, most other hair loss solutions take a long time before they start showing results.
Also, the field lacks extensive medical research. Consequently, most of the products are not evidence-based nor have FDA approval. Some may have side effects that are gravely detrimental to your scalp health or overall health.
To be on the safer side, it’s best to go for prescriptions or request recommendations from experts with vast experience in men’s health.
Your Hair Regrowth Journey With Craft Medical
Whichever way you look at it, there’s a relationship between testosterone, hair loss, and hair growth. Consequently, the answer to the questions: “Does testosterone affect hair growth?” and “Does testosterone cause hair loss” is a resounding yes.
As one of the foremost men’s health professionals in the U.S., Craft Medical has helped numerous men find the appropriate solutions to their hair loss problems.
We have a network of certified medical doctors and professionals for your health needs. 100% online.
Click here or the button below to book a call.