It doesn’t take much delving into hair loss in men before running straight into the term dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT is a hormone derived from testosterone that has been found to be one of the main culprits in male pattern hair loss follicle damage and subsequent hair thinning or loss.
But, just what is the relationship between testosterone and DHT? In general, men tend to want normal or higher levels of testosterone, yet they also want to keep their hair thick and healthy -- so how does this balance out in the world of hormones?
Below, we will cover the role that DHT plays in men, figure out how much testosterone normally converts into DHT in men, how varying testosterone levels affect DHT levels, and what some medications do to help limit DHT levels.
DHT is by no means a hormone that you want to live without as a man.
DHT plays a very important role when it comes to male fetal development, puberty, and the overall emergence of masculine features.
DHT is an androgen, just like testosterone. But, unlike testosterone, DHT is considered a “pure androgen” meaning that it cannot convert into estrogen (as testosterone can in certain situations). DHT is also considered to be an androgen 3-6 times stronger than testosterone.
However, when talking about DHT and hair, the combination is sometimes not very desirable. In some men who have a genetic predisposition to have hair follicles that are more sensitive to DHT, or genetically have more enzymes that make DHT, their hair follicles may suffer. DHT can shrink and damage hair follicles, leading to shorter and thinner strands being produced over time. Eventually, this follicle shrinking may lead to the loss of the follicle (and the hair) altogether.
Approximately 10% of the testosterone produced each day will be converted into DHT (if you are not on a medication to help block this conversion).
Since your DHT levels tend to be a percentage of the level of testosterone in your body, changes in testosterone levels from general aging, medications you are taking, or testosterone supplementation, will likely also affect the amount of DHT produced each day.
Even with testosterone fluctuations, increases, or decreases, you should still expect 10% of the testosterone in your body to convert into DHT.
Medications called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are available which may help men dealing with hair loss to reduce their DHT levels each day and help prevent additional follicle damage. In some men, these medications may help reduce further hair losses, or even promote regrowth, although hair maintenance is the main goal here.
5-alpha-reductase inhibitor medications include Finasteride and Dutasteride. Currently, Finasteride is FDA approved for treating both male pattern hair loss as well as prostate conditions. Dutasteride is currently only FDA approved for treating prostate conditions, although some doctors may prescribe Dutasteride off-label for hair loss concerns in men.
The way that these medications function is that they help block the enzyme which is responsible for making that conversion of testosterone into DHT. Ultimately, this leads to less DHT around to attach to receptors on hair follicles and damage them.
As with most medications, there is a risk of side effects. Most men tolerate 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors well, but a small percentage of users may experience sexual side effects like reduced libido, and diminished sexual function. Be sure to review all potential side effects with your doctor and read through all medication materials before deciding on a treatment.
Here at Strut, we carry a range of hair loss medications including oral and topical 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor options for men.
If you are interested in seeing if a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor is a good option for your hair loss, you can have a free online questionnaire-based telemedicine consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.
If you are a good candidate for treatment, your prescription can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping. If you have any questions or need adjustments during your therapy, our staff and doctors are available for free unlimited follow-ups.