What is male pattern hair loss?

Male pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia) affects all men to some extent as  they get older. Your hairline might gradually recede at the temples, and the hair at the back of your head can get thinner.

Sometimes, you lose hair over the entire crown of your head, leaving a horseshoe pattern of hair around the back and sides of your head.

Hair loss_Diagram
What causes male pattern hair loss?

Testosterone is a male sex hormone that’s important for adult male features such as facial and body hair. Testosterone acts on different organs in the body, including the hair follicles and cells in the prostate. In some families, there are genes that make the hair follicles more sensitive to testosterone. This leads to the hairs becoming thinner and shorter with each cycle of growth.

The balding process is gradual, and you’ll only lose hair on your scalp.

How common is male pattern hair loss?

Significant balding affects about one in five men in their 20s, about one in three men in their 30s and nearly half of men in their 40s.

How is hair loss treated?

Men usually seek hair loss treatment for cosmetic rather than medical reasons. Some medicines can stop or slow hair loss, and sometimes create new hair growth.

Another treatment option is hair transplantation, which involves taking tiny plugs of hair from areas where it continues to grow and inserting them in bald areas. This can cause minor scarring and there is a small chance of skin infection.

A lot of people accept male pattern hair loss as a normal part of ageing. For some, it can be distressing, particularly if it happens at an early age. Losing your hair can make you feel less confident. You might find it helpful to talk to a counsellor or psychologist, or even to family and friends, if you’re worried about hair loss.

Resources

Hair Loss and Balding Fact Sheet Image Tile

Fact sheet

Hair loss and balding fact sheet