Going bald is a very tough reality that many men have to confront, and it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of anxiety and confusion regarding the genetic factors that influence it.
While some men may begin to show the signs in their late teens and early 20s , the onset of male pattern baldness can manifest at any age and progresses into later life. The fundamental question that remains is whether or not you’re destined to experience hair loss if your father is bald.
We’ll discuss how genetics play a role in male pattern baldness, but it’s important to remember that they are not the only factor.
Understanding the Role of Genetics in Baldness
Genetics indeed play a significant role in determining whether a man will experience baldness. However, the commonly held belief that you will go bald if your father is bald isn’t entirely accurate. The reality is more complex, with genetic inheritance being more than just a straight line from father to son.
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is primarily associated with the genes you inherit from your parents. Specifically, it’s linked to variants in a gene on the X chromosome – which men inherit from their mothers. The primary gene associated with baldness is the AR (Androgen Receptor) gene. Variations of this gene can increase the sensitivity of hair follicles to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that can cause hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop growing hair.
However, the AR gene is not the only gene linked to baldness; other genes on non-sex chromosomes can contribute to male pattern baldness. So, although you may inherit the ‘baldness gene’ through your mother, your father’s genes can also influence whether or not you’ll experience hair loss.
Percentage of Men Affected by Baldness
Baldness is more common than you might think. As per the American Hair Loss Association, approximately two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss by the age of 35, and about 85% will have significantly thinning hair by the age of 50. Hair loss in men happens in a pattern, hence the term “male pattern hair loss.”
How to Know If You Will Go Bald in the Future?
The best way to predict whether you will go bald in the future, and when this could occur, is by taking a look at your familial patterns on both your mother’s and father’s sides. If many of the men in your family, including your uncles and grandfathers, have experienced significant hair loss, chances are higher that you might experience it too.
Other subtle signs could indicate that baldness is in your future:
- A receding hairline or a horseshoe shape forming around the crown of your head.
- Noticeable hair thinning.
- An increase in the amount of hair shedding, especially if it is accompanied by scalp inflammation.
If you’re noticing changes related to these signs, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare provider or a dermatologist.
Can Baldness Be Prevented?
While genetic predisposition to baldness cannot be prevented, certain strategies can be deployed to slow down the progression. Treatments such as minoxidil (Rogaine) or finasteride (Propecia) have been effective in halting hair loss for some men.
While Rogaine is available over-the-counter, Propecia requires a prescription. Both of them have been clinically proven to slow hair loss and even regrow some hair, although they do not work for everyone and will not completely cure male pattern baldness. Fortunately, men who want to try the latter medicine can simply visit their doctor one one of the numerous online telemedicine platforms to discuss potential risks and benefits.
It’s essential to remember that if you do experience hair loss, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Baldness is a common part of many men’s lives, and there are many ways to embrace the change, including sporting a completely bald look, which many find attractive and charismatic.