The basic description of what we now know as ‘male pattern baldness’ (medically known as “androgenetic alopecia”) goes back to the 1940s and 1950s. That was also when the condition was first, tentatively, linked to hormonal causes.
In the 80 years or so since, a surprising number of myths and fantasies surrounding male pattern baldness have persisted. Here we’ll examine some of them, trying to put them into modern-day contexts.
Male pattern baldness equates to a higher sex drive
Sadly, for the men and women affected by this condition, this long-held belief appears to have no foundation in scientific fact.
It probably had its origin in the ancient Greeks and Romans, who noted that castrated males did not seem to suffer from hair drop and baldness as they aged. This led to the now disproven assumption that as a low sex drive appeared to preserve hair, a loss of hair must ‘naturally’ indicate a higher libido.
Modern studies though have shown no proven correlative link between high sex hormone levels and male pattern baldness. Although there do seem to be some links between testosterone levels, the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and the binding of DHT to hair follicles, the relationship is still poorly understood.
In fact, many scientists will admit that not only is male pattern baldness in men badly understood but the causes of it in women are completely mysterious.
Some men and women with very high levels of sex hormones and associated libidos, never suffer from Male Pattern Baldness.
Heterosexual women find balding men more attractive
There are surprisingly few scientific studies that have researched this long-held fantasy. What studies there have been typically used very small samples and their methodologies are open to question.
Unfortunately, the results of such studies, although mixed, tend not to support this belief.
There is no treatment for Male Pattern Baldness
This might have been true until fairly recently and it’s known that even Julius Caesar tried and presumably failed, with his own remedies for his thinning hair, such as ground-up animals’ teeth!
However, the great news is that today there are products and techniques that really can help with this problem. They include things such as Finasteride and laser hair treatments.
So, you don’t have to accept hair drop as inevitable. Contact a hair care specialist for advice.
Male Pattern Baldness is caused by drying your hair too vigorously
Now, this is a tricky one because although largely incorrect, there are grains of truth in it.
To be clear, drying your hair too aggressively and treating your scalp like a rough piece of wood to be sanded, isn’t a smart idea. It can break hair and weaken follicles, so you should always just pat your hair dry. Similarly, turning the hair dryer up to be as hot as the surface of the sun and then taking it to your scalp, is equally unwise.
Although both of these may increase hair loss, hair damage and baldness, they won’t in themselves lead to traditional male pattern baldness. As was said above, the causes of that are complex and not really well understood.
Growing your hair long in youth leads to male pattern baldness in later life
There is not a single molecule of evidence to support this one.
Its origin is unclear but it might be from the 1960s/70s when many parents were trying to frighten their sons into getting shorter haircuts.
So, wear your hair long or short – it will probably make no difference.
It’s just a question of genetics
We thought we’d finish on one that is only partly untrue!
Male pattern baldness isn’t just a question of genetics – many other factors are presumed to play a role.
However, from common everyday observation, we can see that this condition does seem to run in families. So, genetics are probably very important – even though they’re not understood!