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Baldness in men vs women: What's the difference?

If you're experiencing hair loss at any point, the best thing you can do is take action sooner rather than later.

Written by
Lucinda Starr
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 23, 2024
min read
Baldness in men vs women: What's the difference?
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A common question often asked is, "why do men go bald and women don't?". But, the statistics actually show that hair loss in men and women is pretty common, it just looks different.

Men typically experience baldness from a condition called male pattern baldness (a.k.a androgenic alopecia) whereas female pattern baldness looks like thinning and shedding hair.

If you're experiencing hair loss at any point, from the early to middle stages, the best thing you can do to prevent more hair loss is to take action sooner rather than later.

So, we're doing a deep dive into baldness in men and women, explaining the differences, and the reasons behind why people lose their hair and giving you a bunch of options to take action and seek treatment.

What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness (or androgenic alopecia) is a common hair loss condition in men that results in thinning hair and hair loss [1].

With male pattern baldness, hair starts thinning at the hairline above the temples and eventually causes a receding hairline. This is followed by hair loss on the top of the head, otherwise known as a thinning crown which causes a horseshoe shape pattern of hair.

Male hair loss vs female hair loss

When people think of hair loss, they tend to associate it more with men than women. But, hair loss in women is also pretty common, it just presents differently than hair loss in men.

The stats show that roughly 49% of women experience hair loss throughout their life span, with female pattern hair loss being the most common [2].

On the other hand, male pattern baldness affects approximately 1 in 5 men in their 20s, 1 in 3 men in their 30s, and 1 in 2 men in their 40s [1]. So, the numbers for hair loss in men and women aren't too different. But, in women, hair loss doesn't typically present as losing their full head of hair or balding, rather thinning hair is more common.

Female pattern baldness includes thinning hair — generally on the top of the head and the crown of the scalp and usually looks like a Christmas tree pattern (vs. a horseshoe pattern in men). Plus, the front of the hairline is typically not affected by hair loss in women in the same way it does in men.

Causes of hair loss and male pattern baldness

There are a bunch of reasons why men experience hair loss or go bald from genetic reasons which is the most common cause of male pattern baldness, to other causes including an imbalance with your hormone levels, where you're constantly producing testosterone and even stress.

Let's take a closer look at some of the causes of hair loss and male baldness.


Male pattern baldness is a genetically inherited condition, meaning unfortunately your genes are at play here.

Male pattern baldness generally happens at a slower rate and follows predictable patterns with a receding hairline and bald spots in men [3]. Your hair sits in a tiny hole in the skin known as hair follicles which shrink over time [4]. This makes hair shorter and thinner and although those hair follicles remain alive, these follicles don't grow new hair.

Since such baldness is an inherited condition, if someone in your family has male pattern baldness, it's more likely that you may inherit androgenic alopecia.

Hormonal imbalance

If you know you're not genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness and no one in your family has experienced male pattern baldness before, your hair loss might be because of a hormonal imbalance.

Research shows that hair loss is associated with the hormones androgens, specifically dihydrotestosterone (DHT) [5]. Androgens are hormones that are involved in male sexual development and they also regulate hair growth.

Too much DHT can obstruct the hair growth cycle which causes hair thinning and shrinks hair follicles. This makes hair fall out and causes male pattern hair loss.


Chronic stress, major life events and emotional stress can cause temporary hair loss and thinning hair.

When there's a shock to the system (caused by stress or a major life event), many men can develop a condition known as telogen effluvium — a temporary hair loss condition as a result of too much shedding [6]. Hair follicles go into a 'resting' state and this condition increases the process of hair loss.

Stress can also cause trichotillomania, which is a hair-pulling disorder involving an irresistible and persistent urge to pull your hair out [7]. Trichotillomania is a mental health disorder that requires proper treatment not just for lost hair but the psychological causes that lead to trichotillomania.

Tight hairstyles

Did you know that men's hair loss can be caused by certain hairstyles? People tend to assume tight hairstyles cause hair loss in women rather than men but tight hairstyles that constantly pull your hair back can cause strands of hair to break and fall out [8].

This is known as traction alopecia and over time, male baldness can be caused by constantly pulling your hair back which damages healthy hair follicles [9].

The American Hair Loss Association (AHLA) suggests that aggressive brushing, backcombing and grooming can cause physical stress to the hair, which can then cause the hair cuticle to flake and strip away [10].

Plus, the constant use of chemicals from hair products and heat on your hair can also be a reason men lose their hair. Try to avoid using hair straighteners and bleaching your hair to prevent male pattern baldness.

When do men start balding?

Men grow bald typically in the later stages of life at around the 30 or 40-year mark [11]. Baldness affects roughly 1 in 5 men in their 20s, 1 in 3 in their 30s and 1 in 2 men in their 40s [1]. At the 70-year mark, balding can happen to about 80% of men.

But, if you're genetically predisposed to male baldness, balding can start in the teenage years, just after puberty. Unfortunately, hair loss starting after puberty occurs in 16% of boys [11] aged 15-17 and 25% of bald men start balding before they hit 21 [12].

Can baldness be prevented?

Since genes are at play with male pattern baldness, it can't really be prevented. But, your diet can play a role in healthy hair, so following a balanced diet a living a healthy lifestyle can be used as preventative measures. It's also great for your overall health [1].

Treatment for male pattern baldness is more effective when you've got more hair and it's still in the mild and in stages 1 and 2 [13]. The earlier you take action and speak to your doctor about the treatment, the better your chances are at preventing permanent hair loss or experiencing more hair loss.

Effective treatments for hair loss

If you're experiencing hair loss and you need answers to get on top of it, we've got you covered. There are plenty of options out there to prevent hair loss and make sure you don't lose hair at a faster rate.

Laser treatment

For men who are constantly making DHT, laser treatment for hair loss can reduce the amount of DHT, therefore, making you lose less hair. Low-level laser therapy can increase blood flow in the scalp and stimulate anagen re-entry in telogen hair follicles and supports the growth of new hair follicles [14].

One study found that low-level laser therapy is an effective treatment for hair growth in both men and women and another study found that laser treatment increased hair growth over 16 weeks by 39% [14][15].

Lifestyle changes

Did you know you can lose hair because of the wrong diet? Nutritional deficiencies can impact hair follicles, which need protein, vitamins and minerals, so eating healthy fats, amino acids and foods high in nutrients can promote hair growth [16].

Vitamin D deficiencies can play a role in hair follicle cycling, where studies have shown not getting enough vitamin D can cause hair loss. So, make sure you're getting enough sun and eating foods rich in vitamin D [16].

Iron deficiencies are also a well-established cause of hair loss and it's the most common nutritional deficiency out there so make sure you're eating enough iron-rich foods like red meat, fish, leafy vegetables, nuts and tofu [16].

Clinical hair loss treatment

Pilot's hair loss treatment introduces clinically tested hair loss treatments that are personalised to suit your individual needs. Pilot's treatment plans improve the delivery of vital nutrients to the follicles, while also blocking the hormone which impacts hair growth.

Plus, Pilot's hair loss treatment sees effective results with 90% of men keeping their hair, 66% regrowing their hair and only 2% of men experiencing side effects from treatment — but all the side effects generally stop once treatment is finished [17][18].

Hair transplant surgery

Hair transplant surgery is probably the most expensive and invasive way to treat hair loss which involves taking follicles of hair from the healthy areas of the head and transplanting them to areas that need hair growth.

Although hair transplant surgery produces effective results, especially for the later stages of hair loss, they can be really expensive with a price tag of AU$11,000 to AU$18,000 and in some cases, it can cost as much as AU$30,000.

Hair transplant surgeries also have some side effects including an allergic reaction to general anaesthesia, bleeding, infections, death of skin grafts, never damage and tissue death around the wound [21].

Hair loss in men and women is common, although the way men and women lose their hair looks a little different. Men's hair loss is generally categorised by baldness whereas hair loss in women tends to present as thinning hair and shedding.

No matter the reason for your hair loss, there are plenty of treatments available on the market to get your hair back to a healthy state and improve your confidence.

Image credit: Getty Images

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