With Age Comes Balding

Almost all of us will experience balding in some way, whether we watch someone else struggle with losing their hair or we go through it ourselves. There are many types of hair loss but I want to discuss balding as we age, also known as male and female pattern balding or androgenic alopecia.

Why is it called male/female pattern balding?

Age-related balding happens in a specific pattern in men and women. The pattern of balding is how you diagnose balding and determine whether it’s age-related balding or if it is caused by something else such as fungal infection or medications. Females normally have balding or thinning from the centre part of the scalp and males lose hair from the temples or crown.

Diagram showing balding from the temples to give the classic widow’s peak. Image source.

What causes balding from age?

Androgens are a type of hormone in the body that are responsible for controlling the male characteristics in both males and females. The word androgen is made up of the latin words for man (andro-) and generator (-gen). Testosterone is an androgen that is made in the testes, ovaries and adrenal glands and it is found in high concentrations in males but in low concentrations in females.

The body converts testosterone into other forms, ie. metabolises the testosterone, with different enzymes depending on which part of the body it is in, the age of the body and also the gender of that body. There isn’t enough known about how the different types of testosterone products interact with the process of making hair follicles in men and women but we do know that no matter how much testosterone you have or don’t have, balding ultimately comes down to your genes.

It’s genetic!

As we age our hair follicles become weaker and produce weaker, thinner, more brittle hair. Then eventually the hair follicle dies and no longer produces hair. People with relatives who experience male pattern baldness are more likely to also experience male pattern baldness themselves.

There is no cure

There are topical treatments for balding to prevent and/or reduce hair loss. These treatments have limited success due to the lack of knowledge regarding the metabolism of testosterone between individuals.

The best way to deal with balding in your life is to assess your own self esteem and feelings of self worth.

Also consider how you feel when you look at a person who is showing signs of balding. Remember that the way you perceive yourself is very different to the way others perceive you. When you look in the mirror be gentle to the friend in the reflection. You are a beautiful person no matter how many working hair follicles you have.

Stay healthy and safe. Reply in the comments with your suggestions for a specific health topic you would like me to cover.

Please visit my YouTube channel for more health tips based in science and subscribe to show your support.