Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic Alopecia is hair loss (Alopecia) that is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones called androgens. It affects both sexes but as a rule is noticed later in women than in men. By the age of 50, 40 percent of women and 50 percent of men will have noticed some hair loss.

In most affected women and some affected men, there may be a diffuse thinning of hair that does not progress to shiny baldness. This type of hair loss has commonly but incorrectly been called female pattern baldness. There is often more loss on the top of the head than in the sides and back. There can often be some preservation of the hair in the hairline, giving a thicker frontal fringe. The Ludwig Classification system is most commonly used to describe “female pattern baldness”.

In some affected women and most affected men, the hair on the sides and the back of the head is preserved but some or all of the hair on the top of the head may be eventually completely lost in fairly distinctive patterns. This type of hair loss has commonly but incorrectly been called male pattern baldness. There may be slight individual variations from the patterns but the basic patterns were described first by Dr. Hamilton then by Dr. O’tar Norwood. The Norwood Classification system is most commonly used to describe “male pattern baldness”.

Androgenetic Alopecia starts at puberty but may not be noticed until many years later. Part of the reason that hair loss may not be noticed as soon in women as it is in men is that the variety of women’s hairstyles and longer hair makes it easier to conceal early thinning. Another part is that women have some protective hormonal features that makes hair loss slower. There is progressive hair loss over time that never stops but may slow down in later years. The hair loss tends to slowly, steadily progress in a somewhat predictable pattern but there can be cycles of faster and slower hair loss. When Telogen Effluvium occurs following pregnancy in someone who already has Androgenetic Alopecia, they may notice a stepwise loss of hair after each pregnancy. It is therefore impossible to know exactly how much hair will be lost and how quickly it will be lost, for any individual.

What causes Androgenetic Alopecia?

Generally speaking, Androgenetic Alopecia is programmed from conception and is the result of your genetic blueprint, natural hormones, and time. There are other factors that can slow down or speed up the process but there are also many misconceptions about the causes of hair loss.


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