How do I slow down going bald? What does "male pattern baldness" mean?
October 28, 2004 5:57 AM   Subscribe

My hair is thinning. This really sucks. I knew it would happen (uncle on mom's side has it) but what can I do to slow it down? Rogaine is out of the question as it is bad for my wife if she gets near it when trying to have kids. I have been using this "hair thickening" shampoo which doesn't seem to be doing much. Also why is it called male pattern baldness? Where's the pattern?
posted by thebwit to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The pattern is generally that you retain an island at the top/front which gradually gets smaller over time. The sides stay fairly thick for a while. The pattern can perhaps best be seen in the public arena in the ownership of Bruce Willis, who has demonstrated its ongoing development in the course of his time in the public eye.
posted by biffa at 6:09 AM on October 28, 2004

Embrace it and go completely bald. It's quite sexy!
posted by onhazier at 6:18 AM on October 28, 2004

went through this when i was 20. my advice, should you want it is to cut your hair short and don't worry about it. no one else does.
posted by elsar at 6:18 AM on October 28, 2004

Embrace it and go completely bald. It's quite sexy!

I am finding myself with a little more forehead as each season passes. When I hit a certain point, my plan is to buy a one way ticket to Slapheadia, as onhazier suggests.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:29 AM on October 28, 2004

Over the long-term, nothing short of surgery works, and even surgery is iffy. My best defense has been to tell the barber not to worry about the thinning and to cut my hair to make it look its best, and then I leave everything in her hands.
posted by mischief at 6:38 AM on October 28, 2004

Going bald doesn't make you unattractive. Being worried about going bald makes you unattractive.
posted by fuzz at 6:48 AM on October 28, 2004

It can be quite a devestating experience to see that the old hairline is receding - often it's the first real sign of aging/getting older in men....I felt quite depressed about it when I first discovered I was slowly receding (it's a very slow process with me luckily!). Now it's no big deal....I think acceptance of this kind of thing generally moves you forward in life - after all, how do you hold back the tide of aging?

Going bald doesn't make you unattractive. Being worried about going bald makes you unattractive.

Yes....the whole self-conscious thing in general is unattractive - it can be a viscious circle.
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:14 AM on October 28, 2004

Going bald doesn't make you unattractive.

No, its being old and bald that makes you unattractive.
posted by biffa at 7:19 AM on October 28, 2004

i've been facing the balding game since i was 17. currently, i just have a large forehead (i haven't reached the half-dome state though). i've been pressured to try different medications etc, however they haven't really worked. honestly, i don't give a damn, and have just decided that once it's gone back another 1/2", it's all coming off. as said before, it's about attitude/confidence, and i just don't care.
posted by quadrinary at 7:27 AM on October 28, 2004

As far as the Rogaine/Minoxidil/pregnancy connection. I think you're getting it mixed up with Propecia/Finasteride. That's the one she shouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole. It's probably a good idea to avoid as many drugs as possible during pregnancy, but as far as anyone knows, Rogaine is no worse than anything else.

Hair thickening shampoo will only make the hairs you still have thicker by layering some sort of coating onto them. Not that this is totally useless. MPB is usually accompanied by thin, brittle hair.

I have searched for information on this topic high and low for my own purposes, so let me give you the rundown:

There are only 2 medically proven drugs which are FDA approved to grow hair:
--minoxidil/Rogaine (didn't do much for me except make my eyes bloodshot, but works well for 25% of users)
--finasteride/Propecia (off limits for pregnancy).

Other than that, there are a few things which have been shown in objective studies to slow down hair loss and possibly grow some back:
--copper peptides (topical) including Folligen and Tricomin
--Nizoral shampoo (available at most stores with the dandruff shampoo)
--Saw Palmetto supplement
--MSM supplement
--Amino Acid supplement

Having shaved my head once before my own pattern balding set in, I remember the horror it inspired in my friends. I'm not a good looking bald person. Sometimes baldness isn't sexy, and does make you somewhat unattractive, but at least it's less unattractive than a big ol combover. You have to work with what you've got.

Hair restoration/transplant surgery looks amazing these days. Not artificial or doll-like at all. But it can cost anywhere from $5-10k. I've seriously considered it, but when I thought of all the cool things I could do with that much money, I couldn't justify it.

Seriously. Shave it off. Go on an awesome trip with your wife. And bring on the babies.
posted by 4easypayments at 7:40 AM on October 28, 2004

Lose weight. You don't want to be bald and fat.
posted by Caviar at 7:53 AM on October 28, 2004

Live with it and let it happen is a great suggestion but to each his own. It's not an easy thing depending on your personal viewpoint so do as you like!

For more info on pregnancy side effects for Propecia, women aren't supposed to handle or take the drug. However, there is no clear indication that males taking it can pass on the ill effects but research is paramount in the muddled world of prescription drugs.

Side effects for Rogaine.

Also Dutasteride may be available in certain parts of the world.
posted by juiceCake at 7:57 AM on October 28, 2004

Propecia and Rogaine are the only two things that do a damned thing that you can get in the U.S. All of the other stuff -- cremes, lotions, sprays, etc. -- are garbage. Comb-overs are for the weak and pathetic. Either keep a stiff upper lip and lose your hair like a man, or wimp out like me, and rely desperately on those two surprisingly-effective drugs.
posted by waldo at 8:26 AM on October 28, 2004

My hairline started beating its retreat when I was 16. After years of fancy cuts and comb-forwards, I found what works for me about 10 years ago.

I've adopted the half-inch crew cut look, as shaving my noggin isn't currently an option thanks to a few pesky moles up there.

My wife/barber takes one of the home haircutting trimmers, puts the medium guard on and goes to town. After trimming the stray hairs with scissors and getting rid of the neck hair sans guard, badda bing, she's done. Elapsed time: 10 minutes.

I remain a handsome devil, or so my wife says.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:27 AM on October 28, 2004

Fun fact: Minoxidil was initially developed as a vasodilator (dilates your arteries and veins) for hypertension (hence your bloodshot eyes); it was initially noted in clinical trials that it was causing hair growth.
posted by gramcracker at 8:35 AM on October 28, 2004

Response by poster: Oh I forgot to leave out some details. First off, my wife has this great idea that I should be growing my hair out while I still can and thus that is happening. I keep wanting to go back to whort hair, but she is saying no.

Also my wife is a med student (fourth year) and has told me about both drugs, and their bad side effects with regards to pregnancy.
posted by thebwit at 8:53 AM on October 28, 2004

Go to the gym and get your muscles enlarged to grotesque proportions and nobody will be talking about your baldness anymore (at least to your face).
posted by eas98 at 9:46 AM on October 28, 2004

As someone who expects to be bald in a few years, I'll reiterate what everyone else has been saying: don't worry about it. It's not that big of a deal. It's all a bit too superficial for me.
posted by MrAnonymous at 11:48 AM on October 28, 2004

Embrace it and go completely bald. It's quite sexy!

FWIW, I did this myself for the first time just last week, and am loving it! Gotten more...err...propositions than I have in ages. Join the club!
posted by ChrisTN at 12:24 PM on October 28, 2004

Grow your remaining hair three feet long and then swirl it around your head. Sexxxay.
posted by TimeFactor at 1:01 PM on October 28, 2004

Also my wife is a med student (fourth year) and has told me about both drugs, and their bad side effects with regards to pregnancy.

Med student or not, she's wrong about the Rogaine side effects. It's counterindicated for use by nursing mothers. There have been no studies on use of the topical solution by pregnant women. Oral administration to pregnant rats causes some problems at high doses. It's a Pregnancy Category C drug: pregnant women should not use it unless it carries a benefit justifying some risk to the pregnancy.

That said, there's absolutely no reason to believe that your use of the drug would have any impact whatsoever on your wife's system. Propecia is very dangerous for pregnant women, but only if they come into contact with the actual drug. It's a hormone analog that interfers with the development of male fetuses. This seems to be where you're getting the idea that "it is bad for my wife if she gets near it when trying to have kids". This caution does not apply to Rogaine.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:20 PM on October 28, 2004

Oh, and as for the "pattern": the term "male pattern baldness" refers to balding from the top of the head, rather than from the hairline in front. It's the type of balding that the available drugs address. Rogaine won't help you with a receeding hairline.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:24 PM on October 28, 2004

Copper peptide creams are a great help with alopecia, but I have no idea whether or not they are helpful to people with male pattern baldness.

I vote for the "get a short haircut and go for the Chris Meloni sexitude" myself. That's what my lovely husband has done.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:25 PM on October 28, 2004

Gramcracker, about Minoxidil's vasodilating abities: I've been heard that it can be used to, um, promote blood flow in the male genitalia.
I haven't had the chance to test this hypothesis, though.
posted by LimePi at 2:26 PM on October 28, 2004

I vote for being drug free with shaven or very short hair. For every woman who hates it, there are two who want to stroke your head. It's the man's way out.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:03 PM on October 28, 2004

Thinning hair can sometimes be a symptom of hypothyroidism. Next time you get a checkup, you might want to get your thyroid tested on the off chance that it's causing the problem. If so, balancing the low thyroid hormone would make a difference in the thinning hair.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:54 PM on October 28, 2004

Dude, sweating it is only going to turn you into one of those sad guys who can't deal with the baldness. Don't be that guy.
The best thing a balding man can do is cut it short (Captain Picard style) and move on.
posted by willpie at 8:18 PM on October 28, 2004

Out of curiousity, what is the traditional timetable for MPB? Do most men start thinning in their mid-twenties? Early thirties?
posted by Sinner at 10:44 PM on October 28, 2004

It was noticeable enough in my mid 20s that I cut my lovely, shiny, glossy, two-foot ringlets, lest I end up like one of those sad bastards with a grey greasy ponytail and a hairline that starts at the top of the head.

It hasn't actually progressed as fast as some friends of mine, but as my daughter observed at a young age, I have a BIG M on my head.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:51 AM on October 29, 2004 [1 favorite]

Out of curiousity, what is the traditional timetable for MPB? Do most men start thinning in their mid-twenties? Early thirties?

Don't think there is one. I've thinned much earlier than my dad did. I'm looking the shave in the eye right now. I'm at least 10 years more advanced than my father was. It's a fucking swizz quite frankly.
posted by biffa at 2:55 AM on October 29, 2004

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