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What is Male Pattern Hairloss (MPH)?

Male pattern hairloss
Norwood Scale of MPH

Male pattern hairloss (MPH), otherwise known as male pattern baldness (MPB) and androgenic alopecia, is the loss of hair due to a genetic predisposition. Although the exact rate of hair loss depends on an individual’s genetics, MPH is a gradual process that can take many years before it develops to a noticeable degree. Male pattern hair loss is unpredictable as this point in time. There is no truth to the myth that hair loss is inherited from the mother's side of the family alone. There are equally influencing genetics from both the paternal and maternal sides of the family.

 

When Does Male Pattern Hairloss (MPH) Occur?

Male pattern hairloss can occur at any age, though it is likely to happen later in life.

 

How do I know if I have Male Pattern Hairloss (MPH)?

If you suspect you are experiencing MPH, be on the lookout for either of the following symptoms:

  • Hair thinning – MPH is characterized by the shortening and thinning of the hair fibers, followed by a complete loss of the hair as the follicle shrinks. If your hair is beginning to lose its volume and density, and appears thin or brittle (especially along the hairline and temples), you may be in the early stages of MPH.
  • Hair loss – MPH typically strikes at the crown of the head or at the hairline at first. It can occur in both places simultaneously or one spot at a time. If you find yourself gradually shedding an abundant amount of hair in these areas, you may be experiencing MPH.

If you lose your hair in circular patches, or all at once throughout the scalp’s entirety, this can indicate a different reason for hair loss other than MPH.

 

Male Pattern Hair Loss and Hairloss Charts

Another way to determine if you are experiencing male pattern hairloss is to look at the Norwood/Hamilton hair loss charts. The Norwood/Hamilton hair loss chart provides twelve sets of pictures to choose from, each depicting hair loss of certain amounts and varying degrees. There is a top-down perspective and a profile perspective for each set of illustrations and an identifying numerical code for easy reference.

The Norwood/Hamilton hair loss chart accounts for six common types of hair loss, but it by no means is a fully summary of all the different hair loss patterns that can occur. However, since it does identify some common types of hair loss, it has become the standard reference point in the medical community. It is mainly used as a way for a patient to identify the type of hair loss they are experiencing, and can be useful for explaining the pattern to doctors without having to physically go into the office.

Can Women Experience Male Pattern Hairloss?

Although it is rare, women can absolutely experience MPH. MPH simply refers to a pattern of hair loss that most often occurs with men, but that does not exclude women from having MPH as well. Typically, a woman who experiences MPH has an abundance of androgens (male sex hormones) in her system, which makes her go bald in the same style as a man.

 

What are Some Treatments for MPH?

FDA approved medications that treat male pattern baldness include:

  • Minoxidil (Rogaine) – A liquid or foam that is applied topically to help thicken hair and in some cases induce visible growth.
  • Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) – A pill that blocks an enzyme from creating the androgen (male sex hormone) that causes baldness.

Non-FDA approved herbs and products to treat male pattern hair loss include but are not limited to:

  • saw palmetto
  • gree tea
  • stinging nettle

 

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