Symptoms A-Z

Male Pattern Baldness Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your male pattern baldness symptoms, including 3 causes and common questions.

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Male Pattern Baldness Symptoms

Male pattern baldness is a form of hair loss with a particular pattern. Men typically experience hair loss starting at the back of the head or at the temples. An analogous process occurs in women and is called female pattern baldness [1]. In women, hair loss usually starts in the middle of the top of the head. The hair may become thin rather than actually fall out, and the resulting baldness tends to be less severe than in men. The standard appearance of male pattern baldness makes it easy to diagnose and differentiate from other causes of baldness. This condition is very common in older people; it will eventually occur in the majority of men and up to half of women.

Male pattern hair loss is thought to occur primarily due to an elevation of dihydrotestosterone, which is produced from testosterone. Dihydrotestosterone causes hairs to become thinner and spend less time in their growth phase, resulting in short, thin hairs.

Characteristics

Symptoms that can be associated with male pattern baldness include:

  • Hair loss: This usually begins at the temples or middle of the back of the head.
  • Hair thinning on the top of the head
  • Progression of hair thinning and loss over time
  • Excess hair in other parts of the body
  • Acne
  • Irregular periods

Male Pattern Baldness Causes

Causes of male pattern baldness are described below in order from most to least common, including genetics, hormonal changes, and drug use [2].

Genetics

Genetic inheritance is thought to play a large role in male pattern baldness; there is often a family history of the condition. Genes from both the mother and father can contribute to male pattern baldness.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes that may contribute to male pattern baldness include the following [1].

  • Medical conditions: In women, female pattern baldness can occur in part due to medical conditions that cause elevated testosterone. For example, the high testosterone level characteristic of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can be associated with female pattern baldness along with other symptoms such as hair growth in other parts of the body.
  • Menopause: Female pattern baldness becomes more common after menopause. This likely occurs because the level of estrogen in the body decreases more than the level of testosterone does.

Drug use

The use of drugs that increase the body's testosterone level, such as anabolic steroids, can contribute to male pattern hair loss [3].

3 Possible Male Pattern Baldness Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced male pattern baldness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Acute stress disorder

Acute stress disorder (ASD) is a psychological condition caused by trauma, especially by any violent attack such as robbery, assault, or combat. "Acute" means that clear symptoms appear within days of the traumatic event. Most susceptible are those with a previous history o...

Male Pattern Baldness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your male pattern baldness

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) is an inherited (genetic) disorder that causes the adrenal glands to make too much or too little of important hormones that are critical for life.

CAH is an autosomal recessive trait, meaning that a child can ...

Adrenal cortical carcinoma

Adrenocortical carcinoma is an aggressive cancer of the adrenal glands. The cancer has often invaded nearby tissues or metastasized to distant organs at the time of diagnosis, and the overall 5-year survival rate is only 20-35%.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, loss of appetite, weight gain, trouble sleeping, unintentional weight loss

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Male Pattern Baldness Treatments and Relief

Male pattern baldness usually occurs without any dangerous underlying medical condition. However, a medical evaluation can definitively rule out other causes of baldness.

At-home treatments

Some home treatments may help with male pattern baldness, such as the following [4].

When to schedule an appointment

Make an appointment with your medical provider if:

  • You are experiencing sadness or low self - esteem due to the appearance of your hair.
  • You are a woman experiencing other symptoms like excess hair in other parts of the body, acne, and/or irregular periods.
  • You have a scalp rash, sudden hair loss, or patchy hair loss not in the characteristic pattern, or if you notice that many hairs come out at a time if you pull on your hair. These symptoms might indicate that a condition other than male pattern baldness is responsible for your hair loss.

Medical treatments

Your medical provider may prescribe one or more of the following treatments, depending on the cause of the male pattern baldness [5]:

  • Oral or topical medication: This can address and promote hair regrowth.
  • Medication: These can treat an underlying hormonal disorder causing hair loss.
  • Surgery: You may be referred for surgical hair replacement.

FAQs About Male Pattern Baldness

Here are some frequently asked questions about male pattern baldness.

Can male pattern baldness affect woman?

Yes, male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) can affect women. It is called female pattern hair loss in women and happens slightly differently. In women, female pattern hair loss appears as a gradual thinning of hair along the scalp. It usually does not lead to complete baldness and is more difficult to treat because side effects are often more pronounced in women.

Can you reverse male pattern baldness?

Yes, the primary treatments for male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) include finasteride or minoxidil. Both drugs have proven effectiveness, and for some men, are capable of reversing male-pattern baldness. In other men, they may alter hair loss or have no effect whatsoever. There are a few off-label drugs that might be used to treat hair loss once initial drug therapy has failed, but their efficacy is marginally proven and their safety is unproven.

What is the common onset age of male pattern baldness?

For men that have male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia, there are clear indications of hair loss in their twenties. By the time most men hit thirty, they have had some degree of male pattern hair loss. For men who have severe male pattern hair loss, they may show servere signs of loss in their twenties.

Is male pattern baldness hereditary?

Yes, male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is often hereditary. Researchers have even looked at twins that were raised in different environments. Twins have identical genetic codes, and in these studies it was estimated that 80 percent of genetic hair loss was due to genetic factors - that is an 8 in10 chance that if one individual experiences male-pattern baldness, the second individual may also experience it.

Can stress cause baldness?

Yes, stress can cause baldness. Alopecia is a common condition involving the body's defense system causing hair loss. A subgroup of alopecias called telogen effluvium can also cause hair loss along the temples and is aggravated by stress. Some individuals have patchy hair loss (alopecia areata), which is significantly aggravated by stress as well.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Male Pattern Baldness

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you noticed a decrease in your libido or sex drive?
  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Do you have dry skin?
  • Are you more sensitive to cold temperatures than those around you?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your male pattern baldness

Male Pattern Baldness Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced male pattern baldness have also experienced:

  • 20% Fatigue
  • 13% Impotence
  • 13% Hair Loss

People who have experienced male pattern baldness were most often matched with:

  • 36% Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
  • 36% Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma
  • 27% Acute Stress Disorder

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Male Pattern Baldness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your male pattern baldness

References

  1. Swanson DL. Female pattern baldness. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated February 27, 2018. MedlinePlus Link
  2. Patient education: Hair loss in men and women (androgenetic alopecia) (beyond the basics). UpToDate. UpToDate Link
  3. Tosi A, Misciali C, Piraccini BM, Peluso AM, Bardazzi F. Drug-induced hair loss and hair growth. Incidence, Management and Avoidance. Drug Safety. 1994;10(4):310-7. NCBI Link
  4. Hair loss. American Academy of Dermatology. AAD Link
  5. Treating female pattern hair loss. Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publishing. Updated December 9, 2015. Harvard Health Publishing Link

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.