Male & Female Hair Loss
Hair loss can occur at any age and affects up to 50% of the population, including both genders equally. The good news is that we have excellent surgical and medical options to address hair loss. Doctors have traditionally called this androgenetic alopecia (AGA), to convey a causative role of hormones and genetics. However, most people inherit thinning from a parent or extended relative, and their lab values are normal. Thus many hair specialists prefer the terms male pattern hair loss (MPHL) and female pattern hair loss(FPHL).
Hair naturally grows in groupings of 1-4 hairs called follicular units. In male and female pattern hair loss, the size and caliber of these follicular units diminish. The hairs become finer and thinner, and 3-4 hair units are replaced by 1-2 hair units. In advanced hair thinning, there may be single or empty hair follicles present. We still do not know exactly which genes are responsible for hair loss. There is good research related to the androgen receptor (AR) gene but even this is only one of many genes that are possibly responsible for hair loss.
Both male and female pattern hair loss can be progressive if left untreated. That means that the hairs will continue to become finer and thinner with time (see figure). They also grow for a shorter period of time, meaning you get less and less ‘bang for your buck.” By starting on medical therapy you can at least keep these hairs in the actively growing phase for a longer time, and potentially help thicken and regrow existing miniaturized hairs.