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How Testosterone Affects Hair Loss In Men

Medically reviewed by

Rafid Fadul, MD, MBA


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Key takeaways

Hair loss can seem impossible to reconcile with. No matter what you do, nothing seems to help. Even worse, it appears to accelerate faster by the day with no discernible cause. 

Male pattern baldness, fortunately, has a root cause and several medical treatment methods at your disposal. Hair loss is defined in the medical field as the significant shrinking of hair, where follicles gradually reduce their output until little to no hair is left. Hair loss is not all-encompassing and looks a little different from person to person. It can withdraw from the hairline. It can vanish in patches and fall out in clumps.

How does testosterone cause male pattern baldness? What, exactly, is DHT, and how does it work? Let’s find out below and get some answers so you can reap the benefits of a full-bodied, healthy head of hair. 

What Kinds Of Testosterone Are There?

The human body is a complex mechanism of hormones. Contrary to popular belief, we all have some level of testosterone. 

This hormone is associated with libido and bone mass, with excess amounts contributing to skin conditions like stubborn cystic acne, unusual mood swings, and excess hair growth. Because of this, you can likely tell if you have a hormonal imbalance by the side effects you’ve been experiencing. Contrary to popular belief, age is not the main contributor to testosterone decline, but rather, factors like cardiovascular disease or hypergonadism. 

Synthetic testosterone takes on several forms that can be used to target hair loss. You can analyze your testosterone levels from the comfort of your home with an at-home testosterone test kit. 

The combination and quantity depend on your physiology and the side effects you’re susceptible to. If you’ve recently recovered from prostate cancer, for example, a change in hormones could do more harm than good. 

What Is DHT?

Short for ‘Dihydrotestosterone,’ this hormone is responsible for many men getting frustrated at their bathroom mirror. Although it’s dubbed an androgen in medical circles, that’s just another term for the branch of testosterone.

DHT is a double-edged sword that can cause hair growth in the right amounts... and cause premature hair loss if it gets too high, making DHT blockers a useful tool. It primarily functions to build up physical characteristics during puberty, though it doesn’t stop working well into an individual’s 70’s.

“If you are always tired, struggling for the motivation to make it through your day, and no longer able to exercise or work out like before, low testosterone may be one of the possible reasons.”

After completing your test and visiting a doctor, DHT blockers can be prescribed to individuals to help them combat hair loss.

DHT vs Testosterone

DHT branches from testosterone, binding to androgen receptors and assisting in the creation of testosterone throughout the body. 

Can DHT Cause MBP?

The short answer is yes. High levels of DHT have long since been connected to male pattern baldness and are found to be mostly genetic, to boot. If you have family members with premature bald spots, it’s more than likely this is the cause of your problem. 

Common signs of male pattern baldness show a gradual shrinking of the hairline. The classic ‘bald spot’ is a surefire sign genetics are working their magic and shrinking down follicle growth to a trickle. The reason DHT can cause both hair growth and hair loss depends on its quantity and how commonly it travels throughout the bloodstream. 

While you may be tempted to try hair loss shampoos at your local grocery store, they’re not always adequate due to the unique nature of hormonal imbalances. Sometimes, this tricky hormone can reach areas it’s not meant to, such as your hair follicles, and shrink them down until they’re no longer producing the hair you want.

Can You Reverse Or Slow Down DHT In Men?  

Absolutely. Medical advancements have improved significantly and are now able to target patients’ individual needs instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. Slowing down the impact of too high or too low levels of DHT is easy with the aid of a DHT blocker

While DHT isn’t exactly the same as testosterone, it is similar enough it can be blocked much the same with products like Biotine or Rogaine. Consider putting down the over-the-counter shampoos and reaching out to your doctor for a proper prescription. You’ll receive a more accurate diagnosis that gets to the root of your hair loss.

When used consistently and correctly, a DHT blocker can take a minimum of three months and a maximum of six to seven to show results. While your hair is unlikely to look the same as it did a few decades ago, targeting the hormonal imbalance will slow down hair loss, improve hair thickness, and promote more even coverage significantly. 

Having Too Little DHT

Women with too little DHT won’t notice much of a difference in their physical or mental health. Men with too little DHT, on the other hand, will notice underdeveloped testes or uneven weight gain.

What Is A DHT Blocker And How Does It Work?  

Hormones are regularly in flux. DHT blockers target the receptors responsible for generating imbalanced amounts of testosterone and slow them down so you can enjoy a richer head of hair.

These synthetic hormones are powerful and effective when taken as prescribed, encouraging steady hair growth and filling out hairlines. Blockers keep DHT from forming, while inhibitors slow down the production rate. It may sound like a negligible detail, but this minor difference is key to knowing which solution will work best for you. Testosterone supplements are usually taken daily, sometimes twice a day, to effectively change your body’s natural functions. 

DHT blockers can be prescribed in pill form or in specialized shampoos provided by your doctor. You may be advised to bolster your diet, as well, since there is evidence of vitamin B12 deficiencies contributing to the onset of hair loss.

Do DHT Blockers Have Side Effects?  

All hormonal changes will have side effects like mood swings and weight gain. The severity depends on your family history, personal biology, and past experience with hormone supplements

Since DHT is necessary for some of the body’s primary functions, blocking it can result in a few side effects. Erectile dysfunction is a common issue, though you may also notice tenderness all over the body and wooziness. Unsurprisingly, one side effect involves creating too much hair from head to toe.

Cystic acne, also known as hormonal acne, is a frustrating skin condition that emerges from hormonal fluctuations. While these deep and painful pimples are often located on the jaw and chin, they can appear anywhere on the face and significantly damage the epidermis if unchecked. 

"Testosterone is thought to contribute to acne by increasing the production of sebum, an oil that can clog pores. When pores are clogged, it can make it easier for acne bacteria to grow and cause pimples."

Any side effects after receiving prescription medication should be frequently recorded so you can get the most out of your hair loss treatment. 


  • Finasteride
  • Biotin
  • Minoxidil

Can Genetics Cause Hair Loss?  

DHT is one such hormone that can be influenced by your family tree and a predisposition to male pattern baldness. It’s not the only detail that contributes to hair loss, however

Extreme stress over a lengthy period of time can contribute to short-term hair loss. While alarming, this is not a permanent condition, provided the source of stress is properly addressed and reduced. 

It sounds scary seeing so many different causes for hair loss, but the medical industry is more than capable of meeting you halfway. Getting diagnosed is your best bet in targeting the literal root cause of your hair loss and reversing it.

Additional Causes Of Hair Loss

Alopecia areata is another medical condition known for hair loss in patches rather than the gradual thinning of male pattern baldness. This can also affect eyelash and eyebrow growth. 

Can A Better Diet Slow Down Hair Loss?  

It’s understandable to want more affordable and simple solutions to stave off hair loss. While a good diet won’t do much against the onset of a genetic predisposition toward male pattern baldness, you can certainly make the impact less severe

A balanced diet is essential to keep your bodily functions running smoothly. Missing out on your leafy greens or failing to hydrate adequately will do more than affect your hair growth: you’ll affect your sleep patterns, mood, and bowel movements. Foods associated with healthy hair are beans and fatty fish like salmon. You should also eat deep green vegetables like: 

  • Kale 
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli

“If you don’t qualify for testosterone replacement therapy, you may wish to explore natural ways to raise testosterone. Unfortunately, proven natural testosterone boosters are few and far between," says Dr. Diamandis. "Although there are lifestyle practices you can adopt that will bring benefits whether you’re low on testosterone or not.” 

A healthy head of hair needs plenty of biotin and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s not just the follicles you’re taking care of but the natural layer of oil on your scalp.

Despite how it may appear, you have options when it comes to addressing and reversing male pattern baldness. 

Medically prescribed testosterone comes in several forms and is highly effective at treating hair loss. If you suspect you have imbalanced hormones, it’s time to take an at-home testosterone test kit and see what’s going on in your body. Once you have a better picture of what you’re up against, gather up your family’s medical history and meet with your regular doctor for an intake.

Updated on
February 22, 2024
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