Hormones are chemicals that are produced in one area of the body, travel through the bloodstream, and produce effects in another area of the body.
Androgens, the so-called male hormones, are produced by both men and women, in the testicles, ovaries, and adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are small glands above the kidneys.
Testosterone is the most well-known androgen. At puberty, testosterone levels rise and, among other effects, cause the fine, short, “velus” or baby hair in the pubic areas and in the armpits to become coarser hair.
In the scalp, testosterone is converted, by an enzyme called “5-alpha reductase”, to a different androgen called “dihydrotestosterone (DHT).” DHT, more than any other androgen, causes genetically sensitive hair to be lost. Testosterone and Estrogen have less effect.
In genetically sensitive hair, DHT causes each generation of hair to become progressively smaller. This process is called miniaturization. Hair goes through a life cycle, with growing, transition, and resting phases. DHT causes each generation of hair to have a shorter growing phase. It also causes each generation of hair to become more narrow and lighter in color. The miniaturized hairs get so light, fine, and short that they can’t be seen and eventually the root stops producing hairs altogether.
Most people who suffer from Androgenetic Alopecia have normal levels of androgens. Conditions that lead to increased androgen levels such as polycystic ovarian syndrome for women or the taking of extra androgens in the form of anabolic steroids, can lead to accelerated hair loss. There are usually other signs and symptoms if there are excessive androgen levels.
There are two medications that have been proven to slow down Androgenetic Alopecia. Finasteride (Propecia or Proscar) blocks a type of five alpha reductase to decrease the amount of DHT. Minoxidil (Rogaine) seems to work directly on the hair cells and prolongs the growing phase.
To summarize, normal levels of your own natural androgens cause the progressive miniaturization and loss of your hair, when you have the genes for Androgenetic Alopecia. Medications can slow down the process on a temporary basis but they Follicular unit hair transplantationcannot stop it. Follicular unit hair transplantation, however, can provide a lasting improvement.BACK