Male pattern hair loss, also known by the term Androgenetic Alopecia, is a genetic condition. Another, not so common fact is Androgenetic Alopecia is not just restricted to males; females also experience this type of hair loss. In the past, the general consensus was that the genes were inherited from the mother's side. However, new research is finding that it can be passed on from either mother or father.
In addition to genetics, the condition is associated with hormones and age. As a person ages, male or female, the hair follicles become more susceptible to a normal chemical reaction. The reaction occurs when testosterone is exposed to an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. The resulting product is DHT.
DHT is known for its role in male pattern balding and increased growth of ear and nose hairs. In women the levels of 5-alpha reductase are lower, thereby decreasing the amount of hair loss experienced in the head region for women.
Alopecia can be caused by other reasons as well. Chemotherapy patients usually lose their hair although many times it will eventually return. In some cases, stress will trigger hair loss. Stress may be mental, emotional or physical - the body senses a need to reserve all of its energy for survival and thus decreases hair growth which is unnecessary to staying alive. In these instances, the hair usually returns once the stress factor has been removed.
In some cases, hair loss can signal the first sign of a major disease. As such, hair loss that does not follow the normal horseshoe shape of male pattern balding should be looked at closely and followed up with a doctor or health care provider.
Rachel Dayer runs and operates , a health related portal.