Male hair loss can affect men as young as their 20s, and will occur in an estimated 70% of all men at some point in their lives. Though some men flaunt their bald head (think Bruce Willis or the Rock), other men may feel their male pattern baldness is humiliating because it shows a lack of virility. When you know the causes and science behind male hair loss, you can find the best hair loss treatment.

Why men lose hair

One of the most common types of male hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, male pattern baldness, which occurs when men have an inherited sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgenic hormone. In most men, about 5% of testosterone is converted to DHT by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. However, for men with DHT sensitivity DHT acts like a toxin on the hair follicles along the hairline and crown (back of the head). This inhibits the follicles’ ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and key nutrients, leading to miniaturization of the hair follicles and shortening the growing (anagen) phase of the hair growth cycle. Hair follicles near the ears and at the back of the head are less affected by DHT, so one of the male hair loss symptoms is the horseshoe-shaped pattern of hair loss around the crown.

During the anagen phase, which usually lasts 2-7 years, each hair grows thicker and darker. The resting (telogen) phase, when a hair completes its growth phase and falls out, lasts about 3 months. About 10% of follicles are in the resting phase at any one time. Men with DHT sensitivity gradually grow finer hair (vellus hairs) until the follicles completely miniaturize and the follicles are dead, producing no hair at all.

Other causes of male hair loss

Although male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is a serious and often permanent cause of male hair loss, some male hair loss is temporary. At the first sign of thinning, shedding or aging hair, take note of your underlying environmental and health factors. Take early action to prevent this kind of hair loss.

Stress can cause the adrenal gland to produce more adrenaline, which can increase levels of testosterone and DHT. For some men, everyday stress can turn into a vicious circle: stress affects the hair growth cycle, which in turn causes more stress.

Medication or illness
A number of prescription medications can cause hair loss, as can serious illnesses. Before beginning any hair loss treatment, consult your doctor to determine any underlying medical causes of your hair loss.

A diet rich in protein, vitamins and minerals is key to healthy hair growth. Hair follicles are nonessential tissues and so are often among the last tissues to receive nutrients from the foods you eat. If you doubt you are getting enough Vitamin C, Zinc and other nutrients in your diet, consider clinically researched hair growth supplements to nourish thinning hair and help prevent further hair loss.

Cigarette smoking has been shown to affect hair growth. Smoking can lead to poor blood circulation, which inhibits the blood flow to the hair follicles of the scalp. This can affect the follicles’ ability to absorb key nutrients and stay vital and healthy.