Male pattern baldness: what it is, who it affects, and more

Medically reviewed by William Ross Perlman, PhD, CMPP on January 10, 2020. Written by Karen Eisenbraun. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Are you experiencing signs of hair loss and suspect it could be male pattern baldness? Here, you’ll learn more about male pattern baldness—what it is (and what causes it), who is most at risk, possible remedies, and more—so continue reading.

What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness, also known as male pattern hair loss or male androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss among men—affecting an estimated 50 million men in the US. It can begin as early as a man’s teenage years, or any time after.

Male pattern baldness is mainly characterized as hair loss that begins at the temples or the crown of the head. Some types of male pattern baldness involve a receding hairline that forms the shape of the letter “M,” while some men experience a gradual receding of the hairline until most or all hair is gone. Male pattern hair loss may also lead to the formation of a single bald spot.

What causes male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness has a hereditary basis and seems to be linked with an overreaction of the body to androgen hormones (androgens are the set of “male hormones,” such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, that are responsible for the development of male characteristics like body hair). A family history of male pattern baldness is a significant risk factor: if your father experienced balding, you are 5-6 times more likely to develop male pattern baldness.

Diagnosing male pattern baldness involves a physician’s evaluation and may include laboratory testing. In some cases, understanding a man’s testosterone levels can help determine the cause of hair loss. Additionally, levels of cortisol and DHEAS are elevated in some men with male pattern baldness, but this is not always the case.

Check key men’s hormones from the convenience of home with the at-home Men’s Health Test, which measures your levels of free testosterone, cortisol, DHEAS, and estradiol. Sharing your results with your healthcare provider is easy with our secure, online results platform.

Prostate cancer

Some evidence has linked baldness in men, including male pattern baldness, with a higher risk of prostate cancer. Results from a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that, compared with no balding, any baldness in men was associated with a 56% higher risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality, and moderate balding was associated with an 83% higher risk. That being said, the relation between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer is an ongoing area of research, and a definitive link between the two conditions has yet to be completely proven.

Depression and anxiety

Some men experience depression and anxiety as a result of male pattern baldness because it can affect one’s self-image. Men who experience a large amount of hair loss or who have hair loss at a relatively early age are most at risk of depression and anxiety. Most men with male pattern baldness, however, are not affected by depression and anxiety.

Seeking medical care for male pattern baldness

Male pattern baldness treatment may involve the use of prescription medication that can stimulate hair growth.

Hair transplantation is another potential treatment option for male pattern baldness. During a hair transplant procedure, a specialist removes tiny plugs of hair from areas where your hair is still growing and places them on spots of your head that are balding. Hair transplantation is usually offered at cosmetic and plastic surgery practices and at specialized hair transplant clinics.

Other remedies for male pattern baldness

Over-the-counter medications exist that help treat male pattern baldness in some men. Topical minoxidil is one example of this—it’s an FDA-approved drug that requires consistent usage of up to 6 months before improvements may be seen.

Common questions about male pattern baldness

Can you prevent male pattern baldness?

There are no proven ways to prevent male pattern baldness. However, treatments—including prescription medication and hair transplantation—may help reduce male pattern baldness.

Is it normal to lose hair every day?

The average person loses around 50 to 100 hairs per day, so it’s normal to lose some hair every day. However, if the rate of your hair loss seems significantly higher, you may want to consult with a healthcare provider to undergo an evaluation and testing for underlying medical conditions.

Check key men’s hormones from the convenience of home with the at-home Men’s Health Test, which measures your levels of free testosterone, cortisol, DHEAS, and estradiol. Sharing your results with your healthcare provider is easy with our secure, online results platform.


1. Androgenetic alopecia. National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

2. Cranwell W, Sinclair R. Male Androgenetic Alopecia. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., eds. Endotext. South Dartmouth (MA):, Inc.; 2000.

3. Ho CH, Zito PM. Androgenetic Alopecia. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020.

4. Urysiak-Czubatka I, Kmieć ML, Broniarczyk-Dyła G. Assessment of the usefulness of dihydrotestosterone in the diagnostics of patients with androgenetic alopecia. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2014;31(4):207-215. doi:10.5114/pdia.2014.40925

5. Cannarella R, Condorelli RA, Dall'Oglio F, et al. Increased DHEAS and Decreased Total Testosterone Serum Levels in a Subset of Men with Early-Onset Androgenetic Alopecia: Does a Male PCOS-Equivalent Exist?. Int J Endocrinol. 2020;2020:1942126. Published 2020 Feb 12. doi:10.1155/2020/1942126

6. Zhou CK, Levine PH, Cleary SD, Hoffman HJ, Graubard BI, Cook MB. Male Pattern Baldness in Relation to Prostate Cancer-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Analysis in the NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2016;183(3):210-217. doi:10.1093/aje/kwv190

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