The scientific community agrees that someone who is suffering from androgenic alopecia (AGA; pattern hair loss) is because they are genetically sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and that is why they are losing their hair.
Testosterone is converted into DHT by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). DHT then binds to receptors that are located in the hair follicles and, in people who are sensitive, begins the process of hair loss.
Since AGA is more prevalent in men, men have more testosterone, and testosterone is the origin of DHT, many people come to the conclusion that the more testosterone there is the worse hair loss will be. But this is not true.
What needs to be suppressed is the enzyme 5-AR. Hair loss medications like finasteride reduce 5-AR, which in turn reduces the number of conversions from testosterone to DHT happening and can help stop the progression of hair loss.
Ergo, what needs to be decreased in order to help hair loss is DHT levels, but not through testosterone suppression. Reducing testosterone itself will not be beneficial for hair loss and may actually have several negative side effects, in fact there may be a correlation between low-t and hair loss.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is the male sex hormone that belongs to a family of hormones called androgens.
Although it is present in both men and women it is produced at significantly higher quantities in men.
Testosterone is responsible for the development of male reproductive organs as well as muscle mass, bone density, body hair, and other sexual characteristics. Not only is testosterone responsible for development during puberty (which is when production of the hormone increases), but it also plays a role in fat distribution, red blood cell production, and several other important functions. In short, having adequate testosterone production is very important for overall health.
But, unfortunately with age, testosterone levels begin to slowly drop. This is completely normal for men, but it is when production decreases at an abnormally fast rate that problems may begin to arise.
If your testosterone levels have decreased at an unusually quick rate there are several side effects that may occur including:
-decreased sex drive
-decrease in bone mass
-increased body fat
Maintaining healthy testosterone levels is very important.
Testosterone and hair loss
Just to touch on what we talked about at the beginning of the article: many people believe that because DHT is derived from testosterone, reducing testosterone is their key to overcoming hair loss, but this is not the case.
The reason that you are losing your hair is not due to your levels of testosterone, but rather because you are genetically susceptible to hair loss. There have been no studies showing a direct causational relationship between testosterone and hair loss.
Everyone has DHT receptors in their follicles, and DHT binds to those receptors naturally regardless of if you have hair loss or not. In people with hair loss, your DNA is the only differential factor that causes you to start losing your hair when that bind occurs.
The only way to stop hair loss is to reduce the instance of DHT binding to those receptors, and the most effective way to do that is to reduce DHT. This is where many people are misled into thinking that reducing testosterone is how you reduce DHT. In reality, the most effective way (that we currently have) is to reduce 5-AR with treatments like finasteride to stop the conversion of testosterone into DHT from happening in the first place. That way you can reduce DHT levels without sacrificing testosterone.
Trying to suppress testosterone itself could lead to some of the symptoms associated with low-t that we talked about above. As a matter of fact, studies have revealed that balding men with naturally lower testosterone levels still have generally the same baseline amount of DHT in their blood. Though many websites and articles claim that low-t can cause hair loss, there is not evidence to support that claim. It always goes back to the amount of DHT and how sensitive the individual is to it.
What you can do about your hair loss
Instead of trying to find ways to decrease your testosterone levels, you should be using treatments to decrease DHT. Like I have mentioned a couple of times already, finasteride and dutasteride are two of the most effective ways to do so. They both are effective at suppressing 5-AR which stops DHT production while preserving testosterone levels.
But suppressing DHT only goes so far. In most people, the best they will get from treatments like finasteride is stopping the progression of hair loss. You then need to focus on regrowth. Treatments like minoxidil and low-level laser therapy can be quite effective for that.
Despite what many articles claim, testosterone and hair loss are not directly linked.
If you try to suppress testosterone in order to overcome hair loss, you will likely experience some of the negative symptoms associated with low-testosterone. DHT should be your primary focus, and it should be suppressed through the use of 5-AR inhibiting drugs like finasteride (or natural alternatives).
Testosterone is very important for overall health and altering its levels in your body will not affect your hair loss.