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Male pattern baldness: What causes it and how is it treated?

Here’s everything you need to know about the causes and treatment of male pattern baldness.

Written by
Tori Crowther
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 18, 2024
min read
Male pattern baldness: What causes it and how is it treated?
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Hair loss is never easy to deal with and experiencing male pattern baldness can cause confidence issues and distress for a lot of people. Although it is common — estimated to affect 30-50% of men by the age of 50 — it doesn’t make it any easier to navigate [1]. 

There is a lot of misinformation about male pattern baldness so it can be difficult to know where to turn for treatment options. That’s where we come in!

Here’s everything you need to know about the causes and treatment of male pattern baldness.

What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia (which occurs in both men and women), is a type of hair loss. It is a hair loss that predominantly affects the hairline and top, or crown, of the head. 

It typically starts with the hairline, which recedes and then moves to the top of the head. In addition to this, the hair often slowly gets thinner. 

There are four stages to a normal hair growth cycle: the anagen phase (active growth), the catagen phase (transition), the telogen phase (resting), and the exogen phase (shedding).

These stages working correctly are dependent on a number of signals from the body. For male androgenetic alopecia, the anagen phase decreases and the telogen phase remains the same.

This is why shedding appears to increase whilst washing and styling and the new hairs appear to be much shorter in length, before failing to come through altogether.

What are the symptoms of male pattern baldness?

As briefly mentioned, many men see the beginnings of male pattern baldness at the hairline, typically in an “M” shape.

This can advance to impacting the crown of the head with hair loss in a circular shape. At the same time, you may find your hair thinning and getting shorter generally. 

Symptoms of male pattern hair loss include:

  • Receding hairline 
  • Bald or thinning patches occurring near the back of the head 
  • Thinning hair at the crown of the head 
  • Increased shedding whilst styling and washing hair 
  • Generally thinner-looking and shorter hair

What are the stages of male pattern baldness?

There are typical stages of male pattern baldness that indicate the severity of hair loss. The Hamilton-Norwood scale is largely used to indicate the seven stages of hair loss, but today we’re outlining the main four [2]. 

Stage 1: Bitemporal regression 

Bitemporal regression is often the first stage of noticing hair changes and potential loss. It commonly impacts the two sides of the front hairline and begins to recede in an “M” shaped pattern.

This can happen over the course of many years and can begin as early as after puberty. Typically, though, this begins in men's 20s — yep, balding can start this early.

Stage 2: Vertex baldness 

Vertex baldness affects the crown at the back of the head and begins with patches of hair loss, which later presents as baldness. This increases with age, with one study showing an increase from 30% in men aged 40-55 to 53% in men aged 65-69 [1]. 

Stage 3: Frontal baldness 

Frontal baldness affects the top of the head and the hairline together, often with this stage, you can see stages 1 and 2 join together. The hair that still presents is visibly getting much thinner and shorter. Hair that remains will mostly be on the sides of the head. 

Stage 4: Full baldness 

As the name suggests, this type of hair loss impacts the front, crown and sides of the head. You may still see small amounts of hair growth but this hair is likely to be fine and sparing.

What causes male pattern baldness?

There are various causes for male pattern baldness, most notably including genes, age and hormones.


The most common cause of male pattern hair loss is down to genetics. Yep, you can blame those ancestors of yours for receding hairlines. In fact, a study found that genes were responsible for 80% of predisposition to hair loss [1]. 

Although genes are responsible for a large proportion of hair loss, there is currently no test to determine whether you’re going to experience androgenetic alopecia. 

It's more of a wait-and-see kind of situation, but there are treatments you can do to prevent male pattern baldness (more on that later).


The older you are the larger your likelihood of experiencing male pattern baldness is. One study showed that male androgenetic alopecia has a direct correlation with an increase in age [3].

However, men can experience early androgenetic alopecia, which is hair loss occurring before the age of 30 [4]. 


Hormones can play a pretty big role in hair loss and hair growth, but it can get a little confusing — stay with us.

There is an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (shortened to 5-AR) and it converts the hormone testosterone into an androgen (male sex hormone) called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the most potent of the androgens.

If someone has very high levels of 5-AR and more testosterone is converted into DHT, it can result in male androgenetic alopecia or hair loss. Increased levels of DHT are commonly found in those with a balding scalp compared to those without [5]. 

Of course, there are other types of hair loss, with various causes, not to be confused with male androgenetic alopecia.

These can be caused by significant stress (telogen effluvium), autoimmune conditions, infections, and other health conditions.  

It’s important to have a medical professional determine the type of hair loss you’re experiencing before moving forward with treatment. In addition to this, in some cases multiple types of hair loss occurs together. 

How is male pattern baldness diagnosed?

It’s important to not self-diagnose your hair loss before beginning treatment as options differ depending on the causes.

A doctor can diagnose your hair loss by looking into hereditary hair loss, lifestyle questions and examining your hair and scalp. 

There is no single test to determine male androgenetic alopecia, but other tests may be done to rule out any underlying health conditions.

Can you prevent male pattern baldness?

If caused by genetics, male pattern hair loss is not entirely preventable. However, there are things you can do to help slow down the impacts of hair loss and care for the hair you have. In most cases, the sooner you begin treatment, the more visible the results.  

Pilot's Hair Growth Booster Kit contains a three-step approach to help stimulate hair follicles for new growth and thicken the hair currently present.

The Biotin Hair Gummies contain biotin (aka vitamin B7), which supports the synthesis of keratin, helping to make hair stronger and less prone to damage.

The Thicken Shampoo & Conditioner work to give your hair follicles the best possible start to life thanks to the addition of zinc, biotin, niacinamide and saw palmetto, while the Derma Roller allows you to reap the benefits of derma rolling at home.

Simply roll the device across the scalp and the tiny needles create ruptures to the outer layer of the dermis, which sends blood flow to the area and triggers a healing reaction in the scalp.

Stimulating this area helps to encourage hair growth.

How is male pattern baldness treated?

There are lots of treatment options out there for those with male hair loss, some in a clinic and others at home. Balding treatments can be expensive and a little confusing so here’s a summary of a few you can try [6]. 

Topical minoxidil

Over-the-counter treatments like minoxidil can help promote hair growth by shortening the telogen phase, which is the resting phase of the hair cycle. In short, it helps your hair growing for longer.

Personalised treatment

There isn't a silver bullet when it comes to treating hair loss but treating it with a personalised formula that is clinically proven is your best bet — that's where Pilot comes in.

Pilot's customised hair loss treatment is created by a local practitioner based on your individual circumstances. Simply start an online consultation and Pilot's practitioners will be able to inform you on the best way to tackle your hair loss.

And, the results speak for themselves — 83% of users keep their hair with this treatment and 66% experience hair regrowth.

Low-Level Light Therapy

Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) works by stimulating cell activity on the scalp and has shown promising results in studies [8]. This is a treatment that is administered in clinic and does require a number of sessions to be effective.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) — which must be carried out by a highly skilled practitioner — involves drawing your blood, and putting it through a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the red blood cells before injecting it back into your scalp.

Doing so helps to stimulate hair follicles to increase the amount of hair as well as the thickness. 


As we mentioned earlier, microneedling (also known as derma rolling) works in a similar way to PRP in that it stimulates the hair follicles, but is much less invasive and can be done at home.

Gently working a 1mm derma roller across the hair loss can create teeny tiny micro-wounds in the skin, triggering a healing response in the skin and ultimately stimulating hair growth.

This is even more effective when used in combination with over-the-counter treatments like minoxidil

Can male pattern baldness grow back?

If you find the right treatment for your individual circumstances, hair can grow back — especially if you tackle the hair loss early on. However, it's hard to say a definitive yes as every person responds differently to treatment.

The most important thing is to seek help when you first begin to notice hair loss as this will increase your chances of keeping your hair and potentially regrowing any you may have lost.

If you have any questions or want to find out the best way to treat your hair loss, get in touch with our Australian practitioners at Pilot today. We're here to help.

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