An estimated 25 percent of men begin balding by the age of 30, explains MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health. Baldness generally is related to aging, heredity and testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone primarily created in the testes and used to regulate fat distribution, sperm production and bone density in men, MayoClinic.com explains. Low testosterone levels sometimes require testosterone supplements. Such testosterone booting supplements are available in injection, patch or gel form.
Testosterone therapy helps alleviate hypogonadism, or low testosterone levels. Reduced sexual desire, insomnia, increased body fat and decreased bone density are possible signs of low testosterone, MayoClinic.com explains. However, other conditions such as thyroid problems and alcohol abuse also cause similar symptoms. A blood test is necessary to determine testosterone levels conclusively. Testosterone therapy’s purported ability to benefit otherwise healthy but older men remains unsubstantiated. Although testosterone levels naturally decline at a rate of about 1 percent a year after men turn 30, supplementing the loss alleviates the natural effects of the aging process. There is a link between testosterone use and hair loss.
Testosterone and Baldness
Testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, via an enzyme called type II 5-alpha reductase, the American Hair Loss Association explains. This enzyme is found in the oil glands of your hair follicles. DHT binds to receptors in scalp follicles and shrinks hair follicles. Doing so makes it difficult for healthy hair follicles to survive. So it is not your testosterone levels alone that contribute to hair loss. Instead, it is how much of the testosterone has been converted into DHT that contributes to hair loss. This hormonal process occurs in both men and women.
Treating Testosterone-Related Hair Loss
Medications such as minoxidil and corticosteroid injections are meant to stem the loss of hair, MayoClinic.com says. Finasteride is a prescription medication designed to alleviate male-pattern baldness by specifically inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into DHT. This form of hair loss medication rarely causes side effects, but finasteride sometimes decreases sex drive and impairs sexual function. Despite its benefits to men, finasteride has not been approved for use by women. If you are pregnant, avoid contact with finasteride, as exposure to this drug increases the risk of birth defects in male fetuses, the Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration warns.
Other Side Effects of Testosterone
Aside from hair loss, testosterone supplements cause adverse reactions such as headaches, change in sex drive and severe allergic reaction. Testosterone supplements sometimes cause breast growth as well as changes in the size and shape of the testicles. Weight gain, urination problems and jaundice also are possible adverse reactions to testosterone use.
- American Hair Loss Association; Causes of Hair Loss; Paul J. McAndrews
- Drugs.com; Testosterone Side Effects; July 2011
- MayoClinic.com; Hair Loss; February 2010
- MayoClinic.com; Testosterone Therapy: Key to Male Vitality?; April 2010
- MedlinePlus; Hair Loss; Michael Lehrer; May 2009
- Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration: Propecia (Finasteride)