Men and women differ in millions of ways and when it comes to hereditary baldness, this stays true as well. The male experience of hair loss is not the same as the female experience.
While there are major differences in the causes, treatment as well as symptoms of hereditary baldness in females and males, there are also some notable similarities as well.
There is a specific subtype of hair loss called androgenetic alopecia. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of baldness in women as well as in men. Andro means related to hormones and genetic means that it is inherited.
When androgens (male hormones) are the cause, there are a variety of similarities. Hormone induced baldness in both men and women is caused by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
This androgen induces balding by reducing the life cycle of hair follicles causing them to fall out prematurely. Some women that have androgenetic alopecia have it due to increased levels of androgens existent because of adrenal gland or ovarian disorders.
Hormone levels in women are not just dependent on natural disposition. There are many conditions and medications that affect androgen levels and can cause alopecia. Some of these, when removed as a cause, will reverse the hair loss.
Also, it is a commonly known fact that male baldness is more often inherited from the mother’s side of the family. Conversely, female hereditary baldness is considered to have equal chances of transferring from either parent.
The symptoms of hereditary baldness in women are extremely different. A woman needs to lose about half of her head of hair to hereditary baldness in order for it to show, while men can lose much less and have it be quite obvious.
This is because men with hereditary baldness are affected by a receding hairline and hair loss on the front and top of the head while the rest of the hairs remain in fairly good shape. Women with inherited baldness experience diffuse hair loss or overall thinning of the head giving it a thin, but not patchy, look.
The age for onset is also different. It is possible for a man’s hereditary baldness to kick in as early as his teenage years. For a woman, the standard age is around age 30 and it typically takes until around age 40 for it to become visible to others.
The treatment of hereditary baldness is quite different for males and females. There are many drugs available to men that women’s bodies cannot handle without sprouting thick hair in undesired places.
There is a 2% minoxidil solution available (like Rogaine) for women while the men’s is made at 5%. Men are also better candidates for hair transplantation because they, as mentioned above, have clear bald spots instead of diffuse hair loss which makes it easier to find a suitable donor area. Also, estrogen is often used in treatment for female inherited baldness when it is related to high androgen levels.
It is not surprising that inherited baldness in women is becoming a widely explored issue. Almost 30% of Caucasian women and over twenty million American women are currently suffering from hereditary baldness.
Understanding how this process is different to a woman can help with more targeted treatment plans.