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Medical Myth: Bald men have more testosterone

BY Max Pemberton

1st Jan 2015 Ask Dr Max

Medical Myth: Bald men have more testosterone

Do balder men have more testosterone? Max Pemberton debunks the myth. 

Where did the myth come from?

Male pattern baldness is incredibly common—with 85 per cent of men over the age of 50 showing signs of it—yet it’s only recently that we’ve understood the causes of this hair loss.

In Hippocrates’ time, it was observed that boys who underwent castration didn’t go bald. Later, studies done in the 1960s on boys who’d been castrated showed that they had no testosterone—the male sex hormone—and didn’t go bald. And so the myth was born.


What's the truth?

While many bald men will tell you this is true, presumably in an attempt to prove their manliness and virility, it’s a myth. Testosterone is involved in male balding, but it’s not how much testosterone that’s important—rather how sensitive the hair follicles are to it.

In a man’s body, testosterone is converted into a chemical that causes hair follicles to shrink, possibly by changing the blood flow to them. As the follicle shrinks, the hair gets finer and finer and eventually, no hair is produced at all. Not all follicles are susceptible to this, which is why bald men can still grow beards.


So what can be done?

There are some treatments, both in lotion and tablet form, that block the enzyme responsible for converting the testosterone.

However, they must be used continuously—otherwise, the hair loss resumes. You could opt for a costly hair transplant, or learn to love what nature has given you: bald can be beautiful.


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