How Do Men's and Women's Hair Loss Differ? It is quite easy to think that all hair is essentially the same. Hair is made of keratin and comes in many colors and textures. As people age, they often lose hair. One might assume that all hair loss is the same - this is not the case. The American Academy of Dermatology ( estimates that 80 million men and women in the United States experience hereditary hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia, as genetically-dispositioned hair loss is often called, varies between men and women. Perhaps surprisingly, hair loss, although often associated with just men, impacts women as well. Just how does hair loss differ between men and women?


Definition and Symptoms of Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia is caused by a sensitivity to a byproduct of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An increase in DHT in the body causes hair follicles to shrink, and hair growth is inhibited. The follicles go from producing thick hair to thinner, stringier hair to ultimately short, wispy colorless hair before stopping production altogether. Other hormonal changes can also impact hair loss, but DHT levels form the primary reason.


Differences in Age and Manifestation

Men typically notice hair loss earlier than women, sometimes as early as 25. The chance of losing hair increases with age with around 85% of men experiencing some form of hair loss by age 50. Women, on the other hand, notice it much later in life, usually between 50 and 60. This gap occurs as a result of how balding manifests in men and women.

In men, hair loss generally follows a predictable pattern. Hair recedes from the front of the head back towards the crown, often forming an "M" shape. Hair loss in men is easily noticed since the loss occurs in distinct parts of the scalp. As balding progresses, dense hair usually remains around the sides of the head in a U-shape. DHT levels seemingly have less of an impact on these areas.

Hair loss in women follows a distinctly different pattern. Thinning usually occurs throughout the scalp - this can make it more difficult to detect initially. According to the Belgravia Centre in London, most women tend to retain their hairlines, but sometimes women also suffer from Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia. Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia is the thinning of hair on the sides of the scalp near the temples and the ears. Where hair thins from the front to the back in men, in women it thins from the part downwards. Women very rarely experience full baldness.

It is essential to keep in mind that everyone experiences different patterns of baldness. Additionally, some women may follow men's balding patterns and vice versa. Women especially can be sensitive to hair loss because a woman's identity is sometimes tied to their hair. This a cultural difference from men's hair loss - balding in men is almost expected as men age. This is something society is accustomed to acknowledging.