The conversation around genetics and its relationship with male pattern baldness (MPB) goes back decades. As with many aspects of healthcare, the effect that genes have on hair loss is often misunderstood. In fact, some of the biggest myths around this subject are still prevalent today.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into why genes are important in the discussion around hair loss, and what aspects of this need more clarity for those experiencing MPB.
In order to establish how important genes are when it comes to hair loss, it’s useful to explain the condition that genes are largely responsible for.
Male pattern baldness, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, is the most common form of hair loss that men experience.
MPB is extremely common. It affects about two-thirds of men by the age of 35, but it can also occur at an earlier age than that for some guys.
Alopecia typically refers to hair loss from your head, however, while it is less common, hair can actually occur anywhere on your body.
There’s a common misconception that the most effective way to tell if you’re going to go bald is to look at your grandfather on your mother’s side. If only it was that easy. There is definitely a lot of truth to this idea, but it doesn’t provide the full picture of how genes influence hair loss.
Studies have shown that a variant on the X chromosome, inherited from your mother, is largely responsible for early-onset MPB, which does support the theory that men take after their maternal grandfather when it comes to hair loss.
However, many studies have also suggested that a variety of genes could play a part in making guys more likely to develop the condition. We’ll go into this in more detail below.
A study conducted in 2008 at the University of Bonn, Germany, showed that a variant on chromosome 20 — one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes you have — substantially increased the risk of male pattern baldness.
In addition, researchers found that if men had this variant as well as a variant on their X chromosome, they were seven times more likely to develop MPB.
Scientists are still not sure what causes this defect on chromosome 20, however, this could potentially come from either the mother’s or father’s side of the family.
One 2015 study went as far as to suggest that 29 different variants across six different chromosomes could be used to predict MPB.
Now that we’ve covered the causes of MPB, let’s delve deeper into how to deal with hair loss.
Even if you have a solid understanding of the causes of MPB, it’s important to check that you are experiencing hair loss before you seek treatment.
An above-average amount of hair fall could be an early sign of MPB. Check out our guide How much hair loss is normal? for more information.
It seems clear that further research is needed before we can fully understand the exact role that genetics plays in male pattern baldness. However, there are effective treatments for hair loss that can halt the progress of hair loss, and in some cases even reverse balding. Let’s look at this in more detail.
Minoxidil is a solution that is applied directly to the scalp to combat hair loss. It is sold under many different trade names around the world including Regaine ®,
Minoxidil works by dilating the blood vessels around the hair follicles on your scalp, which allows the follicles to take in more nutrients and grow stronger, increasing the volume and length of hair.
Finasteride is a hair loss solution which comes in a tablet, taken once a day. It is sold under different trade names around the world including Propecia ®.
The tablet works by reducing the levels of DHT, the hormone most commonly responsible for male pattern baldness. It can be used in combination with Minoxidil or by itself. Because it works to directly block the mechanism causing male pattern baldness, it is most effective for balding around the hairline.
If you think you’re experiencing male pattern baldness, rest assured that there’s help out there, and you are not alone.
Why not reach out to our expert hair loss team at Hims? We’ve spent years researching the best ways to effectively deal with hair loss, and we’d be more than happy to discuss these with you.
In addition, when you apply for treatment, you’ll first be assessed by a UK-registered clinician, so you can be sure you’re taking the best course of action.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.