Testosterone plays a vital role in many aspects of overall health and well-being. While perhaps best known for supporting libido and sperm quality, testosterone is involved in everything from bone mass to muscle growth. However, many men believe that their hair loss may be caused by excess testosterone. Learn more about the relationship between testosterone and hair growth – and whether you should consider taking a testosterone level test – below.
Testosterone and DHT
Testosterone is the most common and important androgen, or male sex hormone1. Testosterone comes in many forms, and like any hormone, overall health depends on a gentle balance. Too much of a single hormone can contribute to a variety of problems.
Many problems with testosterone are caused by its alternative form: DHT . Testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone via an enzyme. DHT is considerably more potent than testosterone and acts more often on the skin. It can contribute to acne on the face, and it can also act on hair follicles. For hair follicles on the body, DHT actually adds hair, but on the scalp, high levels of DHT can do the opposite, leading to what we classically call male pattern baldness.
High levels of DHT can also contribute to prostate problems1. DHT stimulates the growth of prostate cells. Although you need it during puberty and adolescence, the growth of prostate cells in adult men can lead to benign prostatic hyperplasia or an enlarged prostate. In extreme cases, this can potentially lead to prostate cancer.
Read more: Ways to Increase Testosterone Naturally
Understanding male pattern baldness
In reality, male pattern baldness. is caused by a shrinkage of the hair follicles. According to the hair’s natural capillary cycle, it is normal for hair to grow, fall out, and then be replaced by new strands. When hair follicles shrink, hair still falls out, but there are no new strands to replace it.
Male pattern baldness usually begins with a receding hairline, known as “frontal baldness.” At the same time, hair loss from the top of the head may occur. Over time, the two bald areas meet, forming a “U” of hair on the sides and back of the head.
Does High Testosterone Equal Male Hair Loss?
Not necessarily. The relationship between testosterone and male pattern baldness is complex. Only a small percentage of testosterone is converted into DHT, and if you have high levels of DHT, you may have more serious health issues that need addressing.
The fact is, hair loss in men has been observed with both high and low testosterone levels. There are also plenty of men with high testosterone levels who don’t go bald or have thinning hair. The main culprit here may be genetics. Genes can dictate the sensitivity of hair follicles to DHT, which can determine the propensity for potential hair loss.
While converted forms of testosterone contribute to male pattern baldness, hair loss and high testosterone levels don’t really have a connection. However, high levels of testosterone and DHT can lead to other health issues. If you suspect you have high testosterone, consult your healthcare provider or use to determine testosterone levels. If you’re worried about thinning or falling hair, it’s also worth talking to your healthcare provider and/or loved ones.