Your once luscious locks have begun to thin, resulting in patches or receding hair lines that may develop into full-blown baldness. Men can lose their hair for many different reasons, from stress to diseases, but the most common cause of male pattern baldness is a hormone known as DHT.
DHT and hormones in general can seem complicated and hard to control but understanding how they work in your body can help you prevent further hair loss and promote hair growth. Learn more about DHT and its effect on male pattern baldness below.
What is DHT?
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen hormone derived from testosterone. Androgens are male sex hormones produced in the gonads. Like other androgens, DHT is responsible for creating men’s physiological characteristics during puberty, including body hair, body composition, and a deeper voice. DHT also works in fetuses to develop the prostate and genitalia.1 Excessive DHT in men causes male pattern hair loss and increases the risk of prostate cancer. While DHT is a male sex hormone, women also produce a small amount of DHT, which plays a role in the changes associated with puberty while also promoting estrogen production and regulating organ functions.2
How DHT Contributes to Hair Loss
As essential as the hormone is, your body needs to carefully balance DHT levels. Excess DHT levels are linked to male pattern baldness as DHT causes hair follicles to shrink. The smaller follicles shorten hair’s growth period while lengthening out the rest period, where there is no hair growth. Newer hairs barely make it to the surface, while your existing hairs gradually fall away naturally. It is important to note that DHT is necessary for hair growth on your body, but it stunts hair growth on your scalp, particularly at the front hairline and the very top of the scalp (vertex). The hair follicles in this region are more sensitive to DHT levels and DHT will act on these areas first.
The main culprit of high DHT levels is an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme turns testosterone produced by your adrenal glands and testes into DHT. Aside from increasing your DHT levels, this also causes general hormonal imbalances as your testosterone levels take a dip. About 10 percent of your testosterone is normally converted into DHT. 1
This becomes even more of a problem as DHT has the same general makeup of testosterone, meaning it can bind to the same receptor sites. However, DHT also happens to be much stronger and stays bound to these sites for longer. 1
Ways to Block DHT
While you can’t completely remove DHT from your system, you can help block excess DHT production orally through prescription drugs or natural alternatives. DHT blockers often work by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase. By blocking this enzyme, you can block the conversion of testosterone into DHT and prevent the production of excess DHT and promote hormone balance.
DHT can also be blocked directly at the site of action on the scalp. Through the use of DHT blocking shampoos, conditioners, and topical treatments DHT production can be blocked at the follicular level. While topical solutions can be extremely effective, they do not tackle the root of the problem. Your best bet is to combine DHT blocking supplements with DHT blocker hair products to cover all your bases.
Natural DHT Blocker
How to Block DHT
As mentioned, most DHT blockers operate as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which results in reduced DHT levels. Approved by the FDA in 1997, finasteride is one of the most popular DHT blocking treatments. It is a selective inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase, particularly in the hair follicles. Three double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies on finasteride showed significant improvement in a total of 1,879 men with mild to moderate hair loss. This occurred over a five-year span, but results were noticeable within the first year. The study suggests that men with baldness may expect a 10 percent improvement after five years.3
Along with finasteride, you may see a variety of natural DHT blocking ingredients, including:
- Saw palmetto
- Stinging nettle
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Green tea
- Tea tree oil
- Lavender oil
The Side Effects of Blocking DHT
The main side effect of blocking DHT is higher testosterone levels. One study found that finasteride usage resulted in a moderate increase in serum testosterone, particularly in men who started with a low baseline level of testosterone. However, aside from a slight increase in BMI, any physiological changes from this increase in testosterone still require further study.4 1.5% of users of the prescription DHT blocker finasteride reported sexual dysfunction such as decreased sex drive. These side effects are generally rare.1
What to Do with Your DHT
If you notice that your hair is thinning or that the top of your head and your front hairline is receding, DHT blockers can be an effective method to support hair growth as this pattern of hair loss is known to be caused by DHT. Keep in mind that not all forms of baldness are caused by dihydrotestosterone. Ask your doctor to see if a DHT blocker would be right for your hair loss.
If you are looking for a DHT blocking solution, try combining DrFormulas™ DHT Blocker shampoo and conditioner with DrFormulas™ HairOmega® advanced hair growth supplements to support normal DHT levels and healthy hair growth.