There are many different causes of hair loss in both men and women, most of which aren’t well understood. Some sources are genetic while others are physical symptoms of disease processes. Others still are the result of hormones, which often affect so many aspects of our health. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, falls into this latter category, but what exactly is it? How is it connected to hair loss, and what can you do about it?
What Is DHT?
DHT is an androgen, which is a hormone that produces male characteristics like body hair and deep voices. Although men’s bodies produce more androgens, women’s bodies also produce the hormone. This includes DHT. In men, up to 10 percent of their testosterone is converted into DHT, which is essentially a more powerful form of testosterone. According to Medical News Today, DHT “attaches to the same sites as testosterone, but more easily,” and it tends to remain bound longer.
DHT serves a conflicting role in hair growth. While it’s necessary for hair growth in places like under the arms and on the face, it actually negatively affects hair on the head. The exact reason is unknown, but it’s thought that DHT binds to androgen receptors on the hair follicles, which triggers them to begin miniaturizing, a process which results in hair being unable to grow as long as it once did. Eventually, the hair becomes so short that it doesn’t even make it past the scalp. This hair easily falls out as well.
Who Is Affected By DHT?
DHT doesn’t affect everyone equally. No one knows precisely why some people experience DHT sensitivity while others don’t, but medical researchers theorize that this increased sensitivity could be due to a higher than normal number of DHT and/or androgen follicle receptors, greater DHT production levels, and more circulating testosterone, which in turn converted to more DHT.
Both men and women are affected by DHT-induced hair loss, but women are especially susceptible. All women produce a small amount of testosterone, but even those small amounts can spell trouble for her hair. For women, DHT can lead to problems either through direct increase in levels or through a hormone imbalance that creates a higher relative level of DHT compared to other hormones that keep it in check.
What Can You Do About DHT?
There is no magic bullet cure, but some medications can lower the amount of DHT your body produces, which can slow the balding process or even delay it if taken early enough. Before starting any treatment, however, be sure to speak with your doctor, and reach out to Transitions to discuss your options.
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“Causes of Hair Loss.” American Hair Loss Association – Women’s Hair Loss. Accessed November 15, 2017. http://www.americanhairloss.org/women_hair_loss/causes_of_hair_loss.asp.
Huguenin, Patrick. “Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) Can Cause Baldness, But What Is It?” Men’s Health. June 20, 2017. Accessed November 15, 2017. https://www.menshealth.com/style/dihydrotestosterone-dht-balding-facts-men.
Newman, Tim. “DHT (dihydrotestosterone): What is DHT’s role in baldness?” Medical News Today. July 28, 2017. Accessed November 15, 2017. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/68082.php.