Understanding the Causes of Hair Loss in Men

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At some point, every man has wondered when the hair in his comb or shower drain was enough to warrant concern.

Well, we have good news and bad news. We’ll tell you both at once: Nearly 85% of all men experience thinning hair at some point in their lives.

Many men can even start losing their hair earlier. According to the Cleveland Clinic, as many as 25% of men experience hair loss before age 21.

So, while it’s likely that you’ll experience thinning hair, it’s so prevalent that it shouldn’t be something to ignore out of embarrassment. Instead, learning about the causes of hair loss in men can better prepare you to recognize and treat thinning hair.

Below, we’ll go over how hair grows and discuss the causes of hair loss to help you better understand and address this common concern.

How Does Hair Grow?

To better understand hair loss, it helps to learn how hair grows. Hair comes from dead keratin cells. These cells are produced and pushed out through the hair follicles.

On average, most adults lose about 100 strands of hair a day. But don’t worry; our heads generally have over 100,000 individual hairs. And because they operate in cycles, follicles are constantly producing new hair.

When the hair growth cycle is disrupted, hair thinning begins. Let’s discuss how and why that happens.

The Hair Growth Cycle

There are four phases in the hair growth cycle. We’ll go over each one below.

1 – Anagen

The anagen phase is all about growth. During this stage, the follicle produces hair fibers, bringing cells to the scalp’s surface. This phase can last between two to six years.

2 – Catagen

During the catagen phase, the hair follicle regresses and loses one-sixth of its diameter. Hair growth slows, and the strand detaches from the follicle. This phase generally lasts a few weeks.

3 – Telogen

The telogen stage is the resting phase of the cycle. During this period, hair stops growing. Anywhere from 10 to 15% of hair on your body is in the telogen phase at any given moment. This period lasts between two to three months.

4 – Exogen

During the exogen phase, hair sheds from the scalp. You can lose 50-100 hairs per day during this phase, which can last two to five months. As old hairs fall out, new ones replace them in the follicle.

Types of Hair Loss

Hair loss isn’t one size fits all. There are several different types of hair loss. Understanding which type you are experiencing can help you find a solution to stop or reduce excessive shedding.

Androgenic Alopecia

You may be more familiar with androgenetic alopecia’s common name: male pattern baldness. It affects nearly 80 million people⏤both men and women⏤ in the United States alone.

Androgenic alopecia is a genetic condition. It manifests in hair that thins over time, usually in the crown or temples of the head.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes sudden, unpredictable hair loss. It makes the immune system attack and destroy hair follicles, disrupting the hair growth cycle.


Also known as hair-pulling disorder, trichotillomania is the urge to pull out your hair. It often results in noticeable hair loss and bald patches. Because this is a psychological disorder, treatment generally involves therapy.

Telogen Effluvium

Temporary hair loss brought on by stress or illness is called telogen effluvium. These outside factors disrupt the hair growth cycle and cause more follicles to enter the telogen phase. With more follicles resting, shedding becomes more noticeable.

Causes of Hair Loss

Now that we know hair growth is a cycle, it’s easy to see how interruptions in its phases can disrupt growth.

The following culprits can trigger different types of hair loss. Examining each of these is helpful in preventative hair care.


An imbalance of hormones can often trigger hair loss by disrupting the growth cycle. In men, this happens when dihydrotestosterone production increases. This hormone binds to hair follicles and prohibits growth.


Nearly every function in our body, including hair growth, is regulated by thyroid hormones. Underactive and overactive thyroids both cause hormonal imbalances that affect hair growth. Autoimmune diseases that affect the thyroid can also contribute to thinning hair.


Stress can cause hair loss in many ways, including flooding our bodies with hormones and disrupting our sleep patterns. If the stress becomes chronic, symptoms of thinning hair can emerge.


Hair loss is a common side effect of many medications. Blood thinners, anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, and beta blockers all run the risk of thinning your hair.

Fortunately, this is usually temporary. After you stop taking the medication, your hair should grow back. However, always consult your doctor before you stop taking prescribed medication.

Treatments to Regrow Hair

Regardless of how or why we lose it, thinning hair can adversely affect our self-esteem. Maybe that’s why so many of us in the past opted for ill-fitting toupees or comb overs to mask our failing follicles.

Fortunately, technology has caught up with our hair growth cycle. There are several effective treatments to help restore hair.

Low-Level Laser Therapy

Laser hair growth devices utilize low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to stimulate hair follicles. Red light energizes inactive hair follicles and improves blood flow to the scalp. Enhanced cellular activity and increased nutrient delivery to hair follicles can reduce thinning and even regrow hair.

Many LLLT treatments are FDA-cleared and have virtually no serious adverse side effects.


There are many medications available to aid in fighting hair loss. However, the ones listed below are the most popular.

  • Minoxidil: You might recognize minoxidil by its brand name, Rogaine. These topical treatments shorten the resting phase of the hair growth cycle by activating resting follicles.
  • Finasteride: This prescription pill, commonly known as Propecia, works by combating hormonal imbalances. Finasteride inhibits the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT and prevents it from shrinking follicles.

Hair Transplant

Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure that involves removing scalp tissue with active hair follicles and transplanting it to another part of the scalp that is balding.

This is an invasive procedure that involves sedation, but it doesn’t require hospitalization. It is important to note that hereditary hair loss will continue to progress despite surgery.

The Final Word on Men’s Hair Loss

Now that you know what factors cause hair loss, you can take steps to address the concern. While you can’t fight your genes, adopting simple lifestyle changes and treating underlying health conditions can help you reduce or reverse hair thinning. Consult your doctor to determine what is causing your hair loss and find the best treatment for you.

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