3 minute read

Does low testosterone cause hair loss?

By Nick Harland | Medically reviewed by Lauren Sien
Does low testosterone cause hair loss?

When it comes to testosterone and hair loss, it’s a tangled topic. There are different types of testosterone, different types of hair loss - and genetics play a big part, too.

Let’s start by untangling those different types of testosterone, and how they’re linked (or not) to hair loss.

The two types of testosterone

There are two types of testosterone in your body: bound and free

Whilst around 98% of your testosterone is bound to certain proteins, just 2-5% of it roams around your body freely. Some of that so-called ‘free T’ then gets converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by an enzyme in your body. DHT is important for us, because that’s the type of testosterone which is linked to hair loss

The links between testosterone and hair loss

There’s no real evidence behind the idea that testosterone levels affect hair loss. You might have high testosterone, you might have low - but it’s not the amount of testosterone we have that determines hair loss. It’s how receptive our bodies are to DHT. 

DHT binds itself to the receptors on your hair follicles, which then slowly start to shrink your hair follicles. Over time, this causes your hair to become thinner and shorter. Eventually this can prevent hair growth altogether.

So to avoid hair loss, we just need to make sure there’s less DHT in our system, right? Well, not quite.

Although DHT is the substance which can lead to hair loss, what really dictates hair loss is the sensitivity of the receptors on your hair follicles. The more receptive they are to DHT, the greater risk you’ll be of hair loss.

Whether or not your body is receptive to DHT - and therefore prone to hair loss - is largely determined by genetics. It’s why male pattern baldness so often runs in the family. If your dad (and his dad) are both bald, it’s more likely that you’ll go bald too. However, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to prevent it (more on that in the next section).

Still, it’s always a good idea to keep your testosterone levels balanced. It may not be directly linked to hair loss, but healthy testosterone levels have plenty of potential benefits for your health, including:

  • Increased energy levels

  • Greater muscle mass

  • More balanced mood levels

  • Better ability to retain information

  • Increased concentration levels

Fixing your testosterone levels won’t necessarily prevent hair loss. But there are other ways of doing that.

How to treat hair loss

Genetics may determine your body’s sensitivity towards DHT, but you can do more than simply crossing your fingers and hoping you dodge the bald gene in your family. Here’s how to slow down the production of DHT in your body - and prevent hair loss at the same time.

Finasteride + minoxidil: the dream team

If clinically approved, you can combat hair loss by pairing up two different medications: finasteride and minoxidil. While each medication is clinically-proven to prevent hair loss, together they make a dream team in the fight against hair loss.

Finasteride works by blocking the enzyme in your body which produces DHT. This stops it from binding to your hair follicles and damaging them for good.

Once the finasteride has done its thing, minoxidil reactivates those damaged follicles by increasing their supply of blood and nutrients. Over time, this allows your scalp to replace the old, damaged follicles with healthy new ones.

Both finasteride and minoxidil have been clinically proven to boost hair growth. One study found that minoxidil had a 70% effectiveness rate in treating hair growth, while a separate study found finasteride to be 83% effective

However, when taken together, the two have a treatment effectiveness of 94%. It’s a proven solution to an age-old problem.

The numan take

Low testosterone doesn’t directly cause hair loss - but it’s never a bad idea to keep your testosterone levels in check anyway. Balanced testosterone levels can have a number of other health benefits, including better mood, more energy, and more sexual drive. If you’re worried about hair loss then there are clinically-proven solutions out there.