Hormones are powerful stuff. You can blame them for your more rebellious teenage behavior (and the cringe-worthy ways you tried to impress your crush) — but many people don’t realize that the effects of hormones continue well into adulthood. In fact, a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) might be the reason you’re experiencing hair loss now.
Excessive levels of this DHT hormone, or a genetic sensitivity to it, can cause hair loss. This causes hair to degrade, shrink, and eventually stop growing, thus leading to thinning and even baldness. Blocking, inhibiting, and lowering the DHT hormone in the body has been proven to help control this process of miniaturization, stimulate hair growth, and help you grow thicker, fuller hair.
More About Dihydrotestosterone
DHT is a hormone that – among many other functions in the body – affects hair growth. DHT is an androgen hormone derived from the sex hormone testosterone. While androgen and testosterone are often associated with male sex characteristics, everyone’s body produces some level of these hormones, including women.
When DHT is produced in excess (or your follicles have an increased sensitivity to DHT), it interferes with the hair growth cycle, causing the follicles to shrink and the shaft to grow thinner. An effect of excess DHT is linked to androgenetic alopecia (also known as pattern baldness). This is because DHT travels to the scalp and is produced in the scalp, where it binds to receptors in the hair follicles, making them shrink.
How DHT Causes Hair Loss
If you are sensitive to DHT or your body makes too much DHT, it can cause you to lose hair sooner and faster. When testosterone links up with an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (or 5-AR) it is converted into DHT. About 10% of testosterone in all adults typically becomes DHT.
DHT can bind to androgen receptors in hair follicles and shrink them. This shrinking – or miniaturization – leads to hair that grows thinner or less robust, and that is prone to falling out faster. DHT can also make hair grow more slowly from a given follicle once that hair has fallen out.
As a result, affected parts of the scalp become unable to sustain a healthy head of hair. This leads to hair loss. The hair line can begin to take on a characteristic “M” shape, thin at the crown, or bald either in patches or entirely. The biggest determinant of how susceptible you are to the effects of DHT is genetics.
DHT in Women
Everyone has testosterone and DHT in their bodies, but men typically have more than women. This, and differences in their genetic make-up, is why men are more prone to androgenetic alopecia.
However, while more common in men, androgenetic alopecia affects both men and women. In the United States, this kind of hair loss is experienced by about 50 million men and 30 million women. Female pattern hair loss can also be caused by the effects of excess DHT.
Do DHT Inhibitors and Blockers Actually Work?.
The good news is that DHT-inhibitors exist, and they have been shown to be successful in reducing DHT-related hair loss.
Currently, finasteride (Propecia®)† is the only oral medication approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat male pattern hair loss. While you do need a doctor’s prescription to get finasteride, BosleyRx® now makes the process easier than ever. After completing a short online questionnaire, a physician will review your application and, if approved, we’ll ship your medication out in a few days. It’s as easy as that!
Get finasteride from BosleyRx
What is the Best DHT Blocker?
Currently, finasteride is the only approved oral DHT-reducing agent out there to help you keep the hair you have. Finasteride is a 5α-reductase (5-AR) inhibitor. It binds to the 5-AR enzyme (type 2) and inhibits it from converting testosterone into DHT. You can start to see noticeable results in just 3 to 6 months.
Once you’ve started this medication, you’ll need to use it in the long-term if you want to realize ongoing benefit. Stopping it will reinitiate the follicle miniaturization process within 6 months to a year.
What Are Natural DHT Blockers?
Some people would rather opt to go the natural route. While there are natural substances that might work as DHT inhibitors, a lot of the evidence so far is anecdotal. In other words, these haven’t yet been clinically proven.
Topicals and supplements with the following plant-derived substances may inhibit DHT:
- Saw palmetto
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Rosemary oil
There is some scientific evidence for these substances being effective against hair loss. For instance, one 2014 study in 76 males with androgenetic alopecia found a 40% increase in hair growth in those receiving daily 400 mg capsules of pumpkin seed oil for 24 weeks. Biotin is another widely accepted essential nutrient for hair follicle growth, but it has no effect on DHT.
Ultimately, more scientific research is needed to understand if and how these natural substances effectively treat hair loss.
Side Effects of DHT Blockers
Most people taking DHT blockers don’t experience side effects. About 3.8% of men taking finasteride report sexual side effects, and 1.8% report lowered libido, in the published Phase 3 clinical study. For most people, these effects dissipated in a few weeks.
See if finasteride is right for you.
DHT is the principle hormone that is associated with pattern hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia. While pattern hair loss most commonly affects men, women experience it, too.
Fortunately, DHT modulators effectively defend against this type of hair loss:
- Finasteride, an oral medication, is clinically proven to be effective––though it requires a prescription
- Natural DHT blockers like saw palmetto may help, but there is not sufficient scientific data to say conclusively
- BosleyMD shampoo may also help fight DHT-related hair loss by helping remove excess DHT from the scalp
Schedule a consult with one of our hair restoration experts to see which option is best for you.
† Proscar® and Propecia® are registered trademarks of Merck & Co.