What is male pattern baldness?
Will I go bald?
Why do only men go bald and women don't?
If you've recently starting noticing a little receding hairline or some thinning on your head, these are some of the questions that might be going through your mind. The good thing is you're not alone in wondering these and you're certainly not alone when it comes to hair loss.
What percentage of men are bald?
You might be surprised to know that actually around 50% of all men experience some level of hair loss by the time they are 50.
Why does Male Pattern Baldness persist?
Well the truth is that scientists aren't 100% certain they've pinpointed the exact reason(s) but they have managed to confirm a few usual suspects...
Probably the main causes of male pattern baldness is simple genetics, or a family history of baldness and hair loss. If you look around the men in your family and see that the majority of them have gone bald, are balding or have thinned hair, the chances are that it may well happen to you too. This is true for me as my father is bald, 2 of my uncles are bald and my grandfather had very thinned hair - the odds were heavily in favour of me losing my hair as well.
Some research has also found that male pattern baldness is linked to male sex hormones called androgens. Androgens have many functions, including regulating hair growth (specifically a hormone called DHT). Each hair on your head has a growth cycle. With male pattern baldness, this growth cycle begins to weaken and the hair follicle shrinks, producing shorter and finer strands of hair. Eventually, the growth cycle for each hair ends and no new hair grows in its place.
Other factors that have been contributed to hair loss or accelerated thinning of hair (in women as well!) include excessive smoking, stress, protein or vitamin deficiency and some medications.
The crux of the matter is that your genetic code will heavily influence whether or not you go bald at some point in your life. The other factors may well speed up the process or delay it, depending on how well you look after yourself, but if it's in your genes then it will creep up on you at some point in your life. For a lot of men, some level of thinning will probably start in the late 20s or early 30s and progress well into their 40s. For some it happens much earlier and some much later.
When will it happen to you?
Well the truth is, this is very difficult to pinpoint as it will happen at different times and in different ways for every man. What are the signs of baldness? The progression will usually follow a pattern like one of these below:
Usually the first sign is the receding hairline, which happens from the front on either side of your forehead, forming the so-called "M" pattern hairline. The second stage will usually be the thinning of the crown - the patch of hair at the top/back of your head. It is extremely rare for hair on the back and sides of the head to be affected, but this may happen in line with other conditions such as alopecia.
For most men (certainly for me) you will notice the receding hairline long before you notice your crown thinning, but the time it takes for the receding and thinning will vary from person to person. For me, my hairline started to recede in my mid-late 20s (around 26-27) but my crown didn't start thinning until I was at least 30. How long it takes will also vary from man to man, for some it happens early and quickly, for others it's a very slow process.
What is the best treatment for hair loss?
Are there ways to treat hair loss? Honestly... yes and no.
Thanks to scientific advances there are ways to slow down/stop hair loss or have replacement treatment and other procedures. But at the end of the day if it's in your genetics then you're likely going to spend an awful of time and money on these treatments only to delay the inevitable. But, if you're interested, here are a few of the most common ones:
Minoxidil is a widely approved, over-the-counter treatment that you apply to your scalp in order to slow the rate of loss and for some guys it can even grow new hair. But once you stop using it, hair loss returns - so this becomes a very expensive and long term solution. Minoxidil was originally developed as a medication for low blood pressure, but scientists noticed that one of the side effects was excessive hair growth. The formula was then redeveloped as a topical substance to help specifically with hair loss. But because of this, there are some side effects which include heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and headaches. So if you are thinking about using Minoxidil (or Rogaine/Regaine as it's commonly sold as) then please do your research and consult your doctor first.
If this is something you do want to consider, it's widely available and you can buy it here.
This is an expensive and time-consuming medical procedure where skin with strong hair follicles is grafted from the back of your head and placed on the top in order to fill in the gaps. This does work, however from seeing people who've had it, I can tell you that over time when more of your hair falls out, it will eventually looked thinned anyway - so essentially what you've done is had an extremely expensive procedure to just delay the inevitable. If you're happy to pay the money and the thought of being bald really scares you that much then you can look into this option. With advances in technology these procedures are become more wide-spread and slightly (emphasis on slightly) cheaper.
Scalp micro-pigmentation is essentially getting tattooed dots of hair on your head to fill in the gaps and make your hair look thicker/darker. This was taken from female beauty tricks where women have their eyebrows tattooed. Again this can be expensive (and I'd imagine painful!) procedure, which does work in making your scalp look darker - but it appears to work better when your hair is buzzed short anyway so why not just shave it!
Like I said before, if it's in your genetics then it will happen to you at some point. You certainly can go down the treatment route but in my opinion these are just expensive, painful and effortful ways of delaying what will happen anyway.
The best way to face hair loss is exactly that - face it. You are not the only person in the world who is going bald, very far from it. Being bald is not a bad thing, it does not make you look any less attractive nor should it make you feel any less confident - you can read more about this in some of my other articles.
Why is getting bald so hard to accept for many men? Well, accepting it can certainly be difficult and I know that a lot of men struggle with this, so don't worry about it. It's a big change, there is some unnecessary stigma attached to it and it's a daunting prospect. There are many people supporting and celebrating bald men all over the world and all over the internet, here at Bald World that is exactly the idea! If you're struggling with it then please get in touch and we will try to support you and give advice on how to go about accepting it.
Hair Styles to Hide it
If you're truly not ready to face going bald, there are a few hairstyles for balding men that you can try that may cover it up in the short-term:
Combover (not recommended!)
High and Tight
Grow some Facial Hair
A trick that has been around for many years; growing a bit of facial hair actually counter-balances the loss of hair on your head and helps to break up the abundance of skin that can seem monotonous on some bald men. Whether it's full beard, a bit of stubble or a goatee, a beard is often a good compliment to the face of a bald man - just be sure to keep it neat, styled and tidy. And be sure to find the right beard style for you.