mhn news & blog

May 10, 2012

Female hair loss and Testosterone

The Scoop on Testosterone and DHT

The body’s level of DHT plays a role in female (and male) hair loss called androgenic alopecia.  The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female reproductive system and they produce eggs, female and male hormones.  One of the hormones the ovaries secrete is testosterone, and testosterone can be transformed into the DHT that miniaturizes hair follicles.

It’s not that the ovaries are trying to sabotage your hair. Women need testosterone for fun things like sexual desire, sensitivity to stimulation, and orgasms. Testosterone also provides good muscle tone, energy, and balance. Without it women are indecisive, feel insecure, and may develop distressingly dry skin.

The latest research shows the trouble with alopecia (hair loss) is not how much testosterone is circulating through your system, but the amount of DHT clinging to the receptors on your hair follicles. Ironically, the enzyme that changes testosterone to DHT is found in the hair follicles’ oil glands.

The enzyme, Type II 5-alpha reductase, translates testosterone to DHT in both women and men. Although men carry 40 to 50 times more testosterone than women do, women are more sensitive to it. If you’re a woman and have alopecia, it’s possible your system is sensitive even to normal levels of DHT. Another possibility is that your body produces too much of it.

Alopecia can also begin when female hormone levels drop, and the male ones (including testosterone) started wielding too much influence. That sounds like something testosterone would love to do.

Androgen Alopecia

Most women with androgenic alopecia experience hair thinning across all parts of the scalp. A few women have hair loss on part of their scalp (pattern baldness), as do men with alopecia. Even fewer women have both diffuse and patterned shedding.

Though DHT shrinks hair follicles, it does so over time. It stretches out the hair’s anagen (growing) and telogen (resting) phases. With each passing cycle the hair shafts become smaller, narrowing at the tip. Eventually, follicles stop producing hair.


DHT is not the only culprit in alopecia. Heredity is a known factor. Anything that disturbs the body’s delicate hormonal balance may contribute to the problem. Stress, menopause, androgen-rich birth control pills, ovarian cysts, hysterectomy, and pregnancy, are all possible perpetrators of female hair loss.


Life is such a balancing act. From the molecules of our body, to the cells, organs, and systems, so much depends on one thing being balanced with many others. It’s miraculous and mind-boggling.

We all know how to help ourselves. A nutritious diet, staying active, and getting enough sleep helps keep our various bodily substances at compatible levels. Socializing, laughter, and relaxation also assist our body with its chemical juggling act.

Hormone therapy is always an option but also fraught with side-effects. Using testosterone blockers, or other hormone treatments, are best discussed with your physician.

Proven hair therapy treatments such as Low Level Laser therapy, non surgical hair restoration or surgical hair transplants are other options.  Consult with a hair restoration professional to determine candidacy.