Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is a hormone that regulates the development and maintenance of male attributes. This important sex hormone plays a role in puberty and assists men in developing their adult male characteristics. This includes deepening of voices, increases in muscle mass, and of course, hair growth.
At it’s most basic level, DHT is an androgen, which means a hormone that triggers the development of distinctly male traits. The hormone is created when testosterone is converted into a new form, dihydrotestosterone. Typically, about 10% of the testosterone in the bodies of men is converted into DHT in adults. This occurs with a much higher concentration during times of puberty and young adulthood.
How DHT Works in the Body
DHT production initiates the start of puberty in young boys. It causes the genitals to develop and can cause the growth of pubic and body hair. Additionally, DHT production causes the prostate to grow during puberty. DHT production may even work in tandem with one’s testosterone to begin the expression of sexual desires and behavior. Ultimately, when levels of testosterone increase, more of it is converted to DHT.
Women also have dihydrotestosterone, but its role in their bodies is not as well known and understood. However, some research has shown DHT can lead to pubic hair growth after puberty in girls. It may also play a role in determining at what age puberty may begin for females.
DHT Highs and Lows
Both men and women may experience higher-than-normal levels of DHT in their bodies. Frequently, this imbalance stems from the production of excess testosterone. When higher levels of DHT are reported in men, they usually experience or suffer few identifiable changes. However, women who have higher levels of DHT may experience issues with excess body & facial hair. Additionally, they may also struggle with increases in adult acne and infrequency or halting of the menstrual cycle. In extreme cases, excess DHT may even cause malformations in female genitals.
Inversely, women suffer far fewer effects than men if they are found to be low in DHT. On the other hand, men low in DHT experience more dramatic consequences. Because one’s DHT function is so closely related to male characteristics, low levels in men may cause a male going through puberty to fail to develop normally. They may experience a lack of facial and body hair growth, as well as issues with genital development. And this goes as far back as possible. Should a baby boy be exposed to too little DHT in his mother’s womb, he may be born with ambiguous genitalia. Understandably, DHT levels play a vital role in managing and regulating what makes one distinctly male or female.
Should you be genetically susceptible to hair loss, DHT can bind to receptors in your hair follicles and cause them to shrink. Eventually, those follicles will weaken and die. This process is called miniaturization. In the end, it leads to a complete end of hair growth in DHT-affected hair follicles.
Interestingly, DHT is an important hormone for hair growth in other areas of the body. This means the same hormone that’s responsible for causing male pattern baldness is also responsible for fueling the growth of hair in other areas.
Hair Growth & Hair Loss
While male pattern baldness may occur for a number of genetic, hormonal, environmental, and emotional reasons, DHT levels are believed to play a crucial role in these processes. However, before we understand hair loss and balding, we must first understand the process of hair growth and the standard regenerative cycle.
Typically, healthy hair growth is split into three distinct phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen. “Angen” is the growth phase where one’s hairs remain for an average of two to six years. The longer this phase lasts, the longer one’s hair should grow. Normally, between eighty to eighty-five percent of one’s head hair will be in this phase at any given time. The second “catagen” phase lasts only two weeks or so. This phase allows the hair follicles to renew themselves. Finally, the resting phase “telogen” occurs. In this phase, the follicle will lie dormant for a few months. At this point, the cycle repeats itself and anagen begins again. This leads to existing hairs begin pushed out of the pore by new growth.
Male pattern hair loss and baldness occur when the hair follicles slowly become miniaturized. The anagen phase is reduced in time, and the telogen phase increases in length. Eventually, the shortening of this vital hair growth phase results in weakened hairs which cannot grow as long as before.
All too often, the anagen phase may shorten so drastically that new hairs fail to even peek through the surface of one’s scalp. Consequently, hairs grown or developed in the telogen phase may be less well-anchored to the scalp, making them easier to fall out. As the follicles become smaller, the shaft of the hair becomes thinner with each cycle of growth.
Managing Your DHT Levels
While factors like stress and diet have a significant effect on the concentration of hair, one’s hair loss is likely caused by a genetic sensitivity to DHT. Since DHT is the primary hormone responsible for hair loss in men, the most effective way to slow down or prevent this process is to block DHT production in the body. This can be accomplished in a few different ways.
You can manage DHT at the follicular level by using topical shampoos and sprays. These products work by keeping DHT off of the hair follicles. Products of this nature are relatively effective. However, they will rarely block DHT from binding to the receptors in the scalp. More often, the professionals at Regen LA recommend using finasteride, a chemical that helps stop the problem at its source. This drug assists in blocking the conversion of testosterone into DHT. It binds to enzymes and prevents the body from producing DHT in the first place.
The use of finasteride has shown to produce and maintain positive results for most men. Additionally, the use of this drug has few, if any negative results. More frequently, men will notice fuller, thicker hair. This makes it a very popular and very handy tool to utilize before and after a FUT or FUE hair transplant procedure. All in all, if you’re starting to notice hair loss, drugs that block DHT may be a powerful weapon to slow down and stop it in its tracks. At this point, you can begin to consider surgical procedures to restore what you may have already lost.
The Regen LA Difference
At Regen LA in Redondo Beach, we like to think of hair care and hair growth like “dentistry” for the head. Think of it this way. You don’t go to the dentist once and never return… at least that’s not what’s recommended. While you keep your visits to the dentist minimal, you spend every day in between working to keep your teeth and gums healthy by brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth two or three times per day. So too is the process with hair restoration and after surgery hair care.
To maintain your new look and achieve the best results from your hair transplantation or laser hair treatment procedure, it is your responsibility to manage and care for your body. Frequently, this will include managing the production of one’s DHT. Additionally, the hair restoration professionals at Regen LA recommend the utilization of vitamins and supplements to aid in hair health and maintenance. Finally, the indefinite use of potassium channel openers like minoxidil may be recommended for hair transplant patients in order to extend your chances of success.
We know, we know. We get it. This may seem like a lot to take in. But as we said, at Regen LA, we think of caring for your hair like caring for your mouth. It’s a full-time job that never really ends. Just because you have a root canal doesn’t mean you never have to brush again. Similarly, just because you have a hair transplant doesn’t mean the chemical process or imbalance in your body has changed. It takes work. Long term work. But we promise you, it’s worth it!
Contact Regen LA
If you’re interested in learning more about hair transplant procedures like follicular unit transplants and follicular unit extractions, reach out to the professional team at Regen LA in Redondo Beach, California. Our highly-skilled team is here to walk you through the process and answer any questions you might have along the way.
When you come in for your free consultation, our esteemed hair transplant and hair restoration surgeons will perform a personalized hair analysis to decide which procedure may be best for you. Our team will determine your level and severity of hair loss. Then, they will inform you about additional products and procedures which may improve your chances of regrowing and maintaining your new head of hair. This may include the addition of DHT blockers, allograft-infused platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and more.
If you think you’re ready to make real change in your life and you’re ready to stop settling, contact Regen LA now. You can call or text us at 213-403-0455, or book an appointment through our contact form on this website. We can’t wait to hear from you!