At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Many people, both men and women, may experience balding. This loss of hair can be upsetting for some. For many years, science has been trying to seek out the cause of baldness and attempt to find a cure for it. Eventually, scientists found a connection between baldness and testosterone: a derivative of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This derivative of testosterone can cause baldness in both men and women when it binds to sites in the hair follicle.
While many see testosterone as mainly a male hormone, it is also present in smaller amounts within women. Testosterone may contribute to a woman’s bone strength and help her to retain muscle mass. It is possible, therefore, for a woman to experience the type of hair loss that is connected to DHT. In some cases, testosterone can combine with an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase that is found many places in the body, including the scalp. Once this happens, testosterone is converted to DHT and the connection between baldness and testosterone can be established.
Once it is created, DHT can bind to receptors present inside of a hair follicle. This hormone can then cause the follicle to start growing thinner hair that can more easily fall out. Eventually, the follicles may stop growing hair and baldness may ensue. In men, this connection between baldness and testosterone can be seen in male pattern baldness. In women, hair can be lost equally all throughout the scalp.
Genetics is also a vital component when it comes to the connection between baldness and testosterone. For some, the follicles in the hairline and on the top of the head are genetically disposed to be sensitive to DHT. In such cases, a normal amount of DHT present in the body can affect those sensitive follicles. The genes that contribute to baldness can come from either parent, but the mother’s genes may have more weight on the issue than the father’s.
Since science has found a connection between baldness and testosterone, different attempts have been made to find a cure and regrow hair. One such treatment option is minoxidil. Minoxidil is a topical ointment that can be used to help preserve hair and encourage undamaged follicles that have stopped growing hair to start growing new hair. Other treatment options can include finasteride and cypionate. Finasteride seeks to stop DHT from being created, while cypionate works to stop DHT from contacting hair follicles.