Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

What can you do about male pattern hair loss? 

7/22/2021 by David Brennan, M.D.


Androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, affects roughly half of men. Given its commonness, it shouldn't be thought of as a disease or condition per se. But if you happen to be one of the lucky ones with the right combination of genes and an average male level of testosterone, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do about your receding hairline or balding patch.

If your male pattern baldness doesn't bother you, don't worry about it. There is nothing wrong with allowing your body to change in this way, and your hair loss will not negatively affect your physical well-being.

If your male pattern baldness bothers you, let your primary care provider know. A few proven treatments can help, but you may need to prompt the discussion.

Here are some options:

  • Finasteride
    This once-daily pill is commonly known as Propecia. The effects are most pronounced if continued for several years. After discontinuation, hair loss can return quickly. The main side effects are reduced sexual function.
  • Minoxidil
    This topical scalp treatment comes in a few different forms and often needs to be used twice daily for several months followed by indefinite treatment. Side effects are uncommon, but as with finasteride, discontinuation results in continued hair loss.
  • Surgery
    Hair transplantation involves harvesting hair follicles from the portion of your scalp with thicker hair and moving them to the balding areas. This surgery is often performed in combination with finasteride or minoxidil use.

Other treatments with less evidence for benefit include light therapy, platelet-rich plasma injections, and other medications and vitamins.

At the end of the day, if you are wondering about taking steps to address your male pattern hair loss, ask your primary care provider if any of these options would be a good fit for you.

David Brennan, M.D., is a primary care physician in the Division of Community Internal Medicine in Rochester. He focuses on prevention and treatment of a wide variety of common diseases.