Androgenetic Alopecia Is A Common Cause Of Hair Loss Affecting Both Men And Women

Male Pattern Baldness
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Androgenetic Alopecia - The Common Enemy For Both Men And Women

For most people, the term androgenetic alopecia means the condition of baldness for men. However, it is an incomplete - if not premature - description. Why?

Because, the term actually refers to a common form of hair loss in both men and women. The only difference is the pattern of hair loss. The condition is also called male pattern baldness in the case of men and female pattern hair loss in women.
Male v/s Female Hair Loss Pattern
In men, Androgenetic Alopecia Causes Hair Loss in a well-defined pattern. It typically starts above both temples and, over time, the hairline recedes to form a characteristic “M” shape. Hair loss also takes place at the crown (near the top of the head), often resulting in either partial or complete vertex baldness.
In the case of women, hair becomes thinner all over the top of the head, and the hairline does not recede. Total baldness resulting from androgenetic alopecia is very rare among women.
The Role Played by Genetic Factors
Apart from the sex of the individual, androgenetic alopecia is also influenced by Genetic Factors. The latter modify the magnitude of the hair follicle response to circulating androgens. Those with a strong predisposition and androgenetic alopecia start to bald in their teens. People with a weak predisposition may not start to bald until they are in their 60s or 70s. Fewer than 15 percent of men have little or no baldness by the age of 70.

Research suggests that several genes one inherits from both of one's parents play a role in this hair disease. Paternal hair loss has been found to correlate with chances of Alopecia in sons. On the other hand, Androgen Receptors (AR) - which can correlate with baldness - are X chromosome linked.

Thus, these are thus inherited from a man's mother and ultimately from the man's maternal grandfather or grandmother. For women, and X-linked genes can come from either her father or mother or both.

Androgen receptors allow one's body to respond appropriately to dihydrotestosterone and other androgens. Variations in the AR gene result in increased activity of androgen receptors in hair follicles. However, it is still unknown how these genetic changes intensify the risk of patterned hair loss.
"Pattern Hair Loss" - Another Name for the Disease
Androgenetic alopecia is also known as "Pattern Hair Loss" or "Pattern Balding". This is because the hair loss in an affected person follows a characteristic pattern (potentially reversible hair miniaturization, which is mostly limited to the central scalp), and hence this name. These names may be less precise, but certainly more inclusive. And so they are more commonly used to describe this disease.
The Basic Objective of this Site
This site basically discusses the male pattern hair loss (i.e. androgenetic alopecia in men). While some physicians and most affected people consider it to be pathologic, many others consider it to be a normal part of ageing.

So, is it pathologic? Or, is it just a normal variant of ageing? Well, some degree of balding - especially the bi-temporal hair loss - is present among 50 percent of ageing men. An equal number of women are affected by some degree of balding after menopause. However, an early onset of pattern balding is surely a pathologic condition triggered by a myriad of genetic and hormonal factors.
Androgenetic Alopecia in Men and Women - Result of the Same Cellular Mechanisms?
Despite phenotypic and age-related differences in clinical presentation, it was assumed that both these conditions (male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness) were caused by the same cellular mechanisms.

But, then it started becoming clear that there are two subsets of female pattern hair loss. One is directly under the control of androgens, as in men, but the other is clearly distinct than that seen in men.But, then it started becoming clear that there are two subsets of female pattern hair loss. One is directly under the control of androgens, as in men, but the other is clearly distinct than that seen in men.

It is believed that the second mechanism that occurs in women is protective in nature. But the question is what makes the hair loss pattern so different in women?

Whether it is in men or women, androgenetic alopecia always involves a complex steroid metabolism. The hair loss mechanism is well studied in men. The androgens have been found to be the real culprits, and this justifies the name androgenetic alopecia.

Do you want to understand the disease? Then you must know how and when it happens. In any case, it makes for interesting reading.