What can you do about male pattern hair loss?
6/8/2023 by David Brennan, M.D.
Androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, affects roughly half of men. Given its commonness, this condition shouldn't be thought of as abnormal. However, if you carry the right combination of genes and an average male level of testosterone resulting in significant hair loss, you may be wondering if there's 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's nothing wrong with allowing your body to change with age, and your hair loss will not negatively affect your physical well-being.
If you prefer to take steps to slow hair loss or even restore hair in areas of baldness, let your primary care clinician know. A few proven treatments can help, but your clinician may not initiate the conversation unless they know this is a concern of yours.
Here are some options:
- Finasteride. This once-daily pill is commonly known as Propecia. Its effects are most pronounced if continued for several years. After discontinuation, hair loss can return quickly. The main side effects are reduced sexual function or libido.
- 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 clinician 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, Geriatrics and Palliative Care in Rochester, Minnesota. He focuses on prevention and treatment of a wide variety of common diseases.