There is a common misconception that balding is the direct result of testosterone. It is true that there is some basis for this theory. Testosterone at most however, is a partial cause for hair loss. It is not the main factor that influences androgenetic alopecia to occur.
Before going further, it should be made clear that the kind of hair loss being discussed is male pattern baldness, which a majority of men will experience before they reach the age of forty. Initial symptoms will manifest upon the hairline, particularly in the temporal regions of the scalp. This will exhibit a gradual recession toward the back of the head. The frontal area just above the forehead will also show signs of thinning as it follows the progression of this condition. The vertex area will demonstrate a more obvious exposure of the scalp as well. These locations will continuously display a larger degree of hair loss until the entire top of the scalp is clear of hair. The only coverage that will remain will be the lower sides and back of the head. This is how male pattern baldness (known as androgenic alopecia) will manifest itself with men.
Women on the other hand experience female pattern baldness. This condition will affect over fifty percent of all women by the time they have reached the age of sixty. The hair loss will rarely affect the hairline however the scalp’s crown area will undergo diffuse thinning. This will slowly radiate outward being more noticeable as it progresses. It would be uncommon that the top of the scalp will result in total hair loss.
Hair loss in both these cases of androgenic alopecia are brought about by the fusing of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) with the androgen receptors of the hair follicles. This creates a blockage of the supply of nutrients coming from the bloodstream, cutting the hair strands off from the essential vitamins and minerals it requires for its continued development. As a result, the hair follicles slowly shrink and eventually become dormant.
Hair strands are not shed in clumps during cases of androgenic alopecia. Rather, instead of being lost as a whole they slowly go through the hair growth cycle decreasing in circumference every time it regenerates itself. This continues until the hair strands grow shorter and thinner, becoming wispy in appearance. The hair follicles at this stage have shrunk to a size so small that it can no longer produce new hair strands.
The level of testosterone in the body does not dictate the severity of a person’s androgenic alopecia. In fact, it is only a component of it. What greatly influences its onset is the degree of attraction the androgen receptors of the hair follicles have toward the DHT hormone. It is true that DHT is produced through the union of testosterone with the enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase. This will not affect the rate of hair loss however, if the DHT cannot bind with the androgen receptors. A scenario where there is a high level of testosterone but little or no hair loss may very well happen. The inverse is also true. A person with low testosterone levels can exhibit a more advanced degree of balding because of the higher rate of attachment by the DHT hormone to its hair follicles. This is the real indicator of how severe a case of androgenic alopecia will manifest itself upon a person’s scalp.