Most men are concerned about hair loss at some point in their lives, and as an Age Management Medicine & Hormone Optimization Physician, I get questions about it all the time. That’s because hair loss is a particularly anxiety-producing problem. When a man starts losing hair, his physical appearance begins to change; it can feel like a shock to his identity and sense of self. And it’s a particularly difficult problem to solve. Not only are there many different causes of hair loss, there are often multiple factors in each case, for each man. With that in mind, I’ve listed the most common causes of hair loss below, as well as their solutions.
Cause: Telogen Effluvium
You’ve probably never heard the term “telogen effluvium” before, but it names the most common cause of hair loss: stress. Work stress, life stress, stress on the body from disease or strain, lack of sleep, and more. These environmental and lifestyle factors actually interrupt hair growth and lead to thinning. The bad news is, this kind of hair loss is bound to affect many adult men, who are immersed in stressors. The good news is, it’s a temporary and fairly reversible process.
Solution: Find Peace
Do some work identifying your main stressors and eliminating or alleviating the frustration that comes from them. Of course, many stressors are ongoing or even lifelong. So meditate. Meditation each day will create peach points in your daily schedule that allow you to let go of the inflammatory and damaging power of stress. Personally, I do Transcendental Meditation (or TM). TM is the best-researched form of meditation in terms of its effects on health. Find a center near you, or check tm.org for details. Since most health challenges are related in some way to stress, getting yourself to a more peaceful life is essential anyway, so get to it!
Cause: Androgenetic Alopecia
Androgenetic alopecia is basically hormone-related baldness. It has to do with the effects of androgens or so-called “male” hormones on the hair follicle. When hormone levels aren’t balanced for optimal hair health and growth, male pattern baldness can occur in the well-known spots, the crown of the head or above the forehead in the form of a receding hairline. A man will often have a genetic predisposition for it, in which case it’s generally predictable, with visible signs of hair thinning in his twenties or even his teens. Because of this genetic component, in spite of androgenetic alopecia’s hormonal basis, it’s rare that I see this in my practice as a result of prescribing hormones.
There are well-known medications to slow down, prevent, and even reverse androgenetic alopecia. You’ve probably heard of them by their brand names: Rogaine (Minoxidil) and Propecia (Finasteride). In my practice, my preferred medication is Dutasteride (also known as Avodart), which is similar to Propecia but is better at blocking formation of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone that can cause androgenic alopecia. But I generally use Dutasteride in conjunction with Hormone Replacement Therapy, because the drug has been shown to interfere with testosterone production, which can cause a whole array of unpleasant symptoms.
Cause: Hyper- and Hypothyroidism
Both over- (hyper) and under- (hypo) stimulation of the thyroid can cause hair loss. One of the ways to know if thyroid health is a contributing factor is to note if you’re losing body hair as well as the hair on your head. If so, then it’s important to get your thyroid levels checked.
Solution: Correct the Thyroid Disorder
This is a pretty obvious one. If you have a thyroid disorder that’s leading to hair loss, you want to correct the thyroid disorder. That means seeing a qualified Age Management physician, getting your labs done, and getting the appropriate treatment.
Cause: Low Ferritin Levels
Ferritin is an iron-containing protein in your blood, and low levels of ferritin can be a factor “and a commonly overlooked one, at that” in thinning hair and hair loss. To know if ferritin levels are low, it’s important to get ferritin levels checked, not just iron levels. Even if your iron levels are adequate, your ferritin may not be high enough to support healthy hair growth and strength.
Solution: Doctor-monitored supplementation
To contend with low ferritin, you need to supplement with iron. But even though iron is readily available over the counter, you don’t want to do this without medical supervision. Too much iron in your blood can lead to fatigue, constipation, gut pain, and even heart failure.
The important thing to remember is that hair loss is generally caused by a combination of the above factors. And of course, hair simply loses some of its thickness and strength as you age. Very few fifty-year-olds are walking around with the same head of hair they had when they were twenty. So while solutions are available for each possible cause, getting the right approach can be very tricky.
To comb through the details of your hair loss, call The Body Well today at (323) 874-9355 and schedule an hormone evaluation. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.