It is quite common for people to associate baldness with high testosterone levels. For many years, even scientists believed that this hormone that stimulates the development of male characteristics (an androgen) was the underlying cause of hair loss. But it is actually a far more potent derivative of testosterone, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is now known to be the causative factor in up to 95% of the cases of male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). There is also strong evidence to support the critical connection between DHT and hair loss in women.
Almost 10% of the testosterone produced by an adult each day converts to DHT. When the DHT binds with sensitive receptors in the scalp’s hair follicles, it prevents the absorption of vital nutrients that healthy hair follicles require for growth. Lacking proper nutrition, the growing phases of hair follicles get shorter. The follicles shrink (miniaturization) and become lighter, finer, and smaller, giving the hair on the scalp the look of “peach fuzz.”
Women have trace amounts of testosterone in their blood under normal conditions. Just like in men’s bodies, testosterone converts to DHT and causes great harm to women’s hair follicles by depriving them of needed nutrients. This makes it very difficult for healthy hair to thrive and survive, prolongs the resting phases and shortens the growing phases, and reduces the lifespan of the follicles. This often results in female pattern baldness.
Genetic make-up determines how much DHT a man or woman will produce. Higher production levels cause more severe hair loss over more areas of the scalp. But even lower levels can be a problem for women. Hormones are cyclical and require a delicate balancing act to be maintained at optimum levels. Testosterone levels on a blood test might be considered “normal” by a physician but still be too high for one particular woman’s chemistry. The result would be too-high levels of DHT and hair loss. If a woman’s chemistry is very sensitive to chemicals and hormones, and especially if her own female hormones are lowered for any reason, the presence of the male androgens like DHT in her blood can upset the delicate balance required, resulting in DHT-triggered hair loss in women.