What Is Male Pattern Baldness?

Male pattern baldness is the most common type of baldness, caused by an overabundance of the same DHT androgen hormone that promotes hair growth on parts of the body outside the scalp. Researchers used to link male pattern baldness directly to the maternal grandfather — that is, if your mother’s father was bald, you too would be bald — but recent studies have shown a more complex genetic cause, with the father’s genetic makeup having nearly as much influence as the mother’s.

This type of baldness usually has an onset in a man’s thirties or early forties, though in some it begins in the late teen years. It is marked by hair thinning – both lessening in quantity and in size — on both sides of the scalp above the temples, starting at the hairline. Often, a patch of hair at the crown of the head also shows thinning. Gradually, the thin patches of hair increase in size until they meet in the middle, leaving the man with a fringe of healthy hair from about temple-height down but with no hair or very fine and sparse hairs on the top of the head.

If you suspect you may be prone to male pattern baldness, a healthy, active lifestyle may delay onset. Some studies show that regular aerobic exercise and the avoidance of stress can at least slow hair loss. Avoiding stresses on hair, such as tight ponytails and hats, may also help. For other men, a variety of treatments from herbal and medicinal remedies to laser treatments and hair implants may be necessary to stop or reverse male pattern baldness.