7 Things You Should Know About Androgenetic Alopecia

As much as we’d like for it not to happen, balding caused by androgenetic alopecia is exceedingly common amongst both men and women. Despite that, people who are experiencing alopecia tend to have increased levels of depression and anxiety, and poor body image.

If you think your hair might be thinning, then you probably have a lot of questions that you need to be answered. What causes androgenetic alopecia in men and women? What are the treatment options?

Read on for the answers to all of these questions and more!

1. Androgenetic Alopecia in Men

Androgenetic alopecia in men is commonly referred to as “male pattern balding.” You might notice that your hair starts thinning at your temples first, leaving an “M” shape on your forehead. You might also notice thinning on the crown of your head as well. 

Men who have androgenetic alopecia typically start to see hair loss in their forties or fifties, but it can occur as early as their twenties. The most common cause of balding in men is dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone. When you have DHT in your body, it attacks your hair follicles, causing them to stop producing hair, thus resulting in hair loss.

Since men have more testosterone than women, and therefore more DHT, they are far more likely to notice balding.

2. Androgenetic Alopecia in Women

Androgenetic alopecia in women operates differently in women than it does in men. Women see hair loss due to changes in their hormones, including excessive amounts of androgens such as testosterone that interfere with hair growth. The most common conditions that impact hormone levels include pregnancy, contraceptive use, menopause, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Unlike men, who experience areas of total baldness, women tend to experience overall thinning of their hair. You might be able to see areas of your scalp that you don’t typically see in women who don’t have androgenetic alopecia. Typically, you’ll first notice it in the frontal areas and around the crown.

3. It Might Be Genetic

Do you want to know if you’re likely to experience androgenetic alopecia at some point in your life? Look to your parents. Genetics appear to play a role in the risk of both men and women experiencing androgenetic alopecia.

More research needs to be done to determine the exact relationship between genetics and alopecia. For now, if all of the men in your family tend to experience balding, then there’s a strong probability that you might experience it as well. Knowing your risks means that you can prepare to take action when symptoms first start to show up.

4. Treatments for Men

Two of the most common treatments for men are minoxidil and finasteride. 

Minoxidil is a topical solution that is typically sold under the brand name Rogaine in 2% and 5% formulations. When applied to the scalp, it lengthens the growth phase of your hair follicles, which means you produce more hair. Hair that comes in tends to be thicker, but it can take up to six months of use before you see results, and you need to continue to use it indefinitely.

Finasteride is a prescription-only medication, sold under the brand name Propecia, in pill form. It reduces the production of hormones that lead to androgenetic alopecia. It is important that female partners of men using Propecia not come in contact with it if they are pregnant due to the potential for male genitalia abnormalities in fetuses.

These aren’t the only treatments on the market. Do your research about other solutions like RU58841, and talk to your doctor to determine if they might work for you.

5. Treatments for Women

If you’re a woman experiencing alopecia, you might be thinking, “can female androgenetic alopecia be reversed?” There are specific treatment options available for women, though they differ somewhat from the treatments given to men. The first is minoxidil, as discussed in the previous section.

Women are also treated with spironolactone. It is a medication that comes in pill form under the brand names Aldactone and CaroSpir. It works similarly to finasteride in that it reduces the production of hormones that lead to androgenetic alopecia. Your health care provider will likely start you on a low dose at first and increase the dose as you adjust. 

Patience is key with this medication. It can take up to six months for you to start to see results. It’s also important that you talk to your doctor if you think you may be pregnant because it cannot be used during pregnancy.

On certain occasions, finasteride may also be effective for women. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best treatments for you.

6. When Should You Get Help?

Since androgenetic alopecia is so common, many people don’t consider getting help for it unless they’re not comfortable with losing their hair. If you aren’t happy with your hair loss, then the solutions we’ve discussed can help you feel happier and more confident, but they’re more effective if you get help sooner rather than later. 

If you’ve noticed that your hair is thinning, then you should book an appointment with your doctor ASAP to discuss your options.

7. Surgical Considerations

If you’ve tried all of the treatments we’ve discussed and they just aren’t doing the job, then surgery is a consideration. Some men spring for hair transplants, where healthy hair follicles are transplanted to other areas of the scalp experiencing hair loss. You might even talk to your doctor about scalp reduction to remove the areas of the scalp that are no longer growing hair.

Are You Struggling with Androgenetic Alopecia?

No one wants to experience androgenetic alopecia, but if you are, that doesn’t have to be the end of the road when it comes to your hair. The best thing you can do when you start noticing that your hair is thinning is to speak to your doctor. They can refer you to a specialist who will help you explore your options for treatment.

Everyone wants to look and feel their best, and you probably do, too. If you’re looking for more great ways to do just that, then you’ve come to the right place! Check out the rest of our blog for information about all things health, fitness, and beauty!