Male pattern me?
December 1, 2009 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Should I take something for my (possible) baldness?

***I did check out the other questions re: this and didn't find the question/answer I was looking for***

I'm 35, have always had a good head of really thick hair. My mother's grandfather (for whatever it's worth) was not bald, as far as I know. Died young though (late 50s I think). So who knows. There's not a lot of baldness in my family though.

Anyway, I've been in an extremely stressful educational program for the last 8 months. So stressful in fact that I blame it for giving me shingles this month. Which sucked. Different story. But anyway, I have definitely been stressed well beyond normal.

Somewhere about 2 months ago, I noticed that the hair at my forward hair line (bangs?) is way thinned than it used to be. Not sure how long it's been this way, but I've never seen my scalp before and I can totally see it now if I look in the mirror. Not noticeable yet from a few feet away, but definitely freaking me out. I would guess about 50% of my hair is gone.

I'm not sure if it could be stress that made my hair fall out. I've always been confident that I'd maintain a full head of hair throughout my life, so this is a big surprise to me.

YANMD but what do you think? My hair is maybe my best physical attribute, and my others are not all that great. But the idea of spending $30 a month for something that's only going to slow the tide is depressing to me and I'm not sure if it will be effective either way.

I just started dating someone (who is not superficial, and awesome, and I'm really feeling into her) and I was like, do you think I should start Rogaine (as a joke) and she's like, "yeah, totally, I know so many guys who wish they had started when they had the chance". But also I asked "could you love a bald man?" and she said she could. Her dad is 70 with a full head of black hair.

I'm inclined to not do anything, particularly with the idea that it might be stress and that my hair might grow back when this craziness dies down. But if it's not stress, and I lose what is left up there, I will definitely miss it.

Any advice, thoughts or experience would be greatly appreciated.

PS I talked to my doctor...all my lab work checks out. Thyroid, anemia. She says "mail pattern baldness". I'm not totally sure I agree.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Rogaine will just postpone the loss; I took it for all of a day, read the label, went "WTF would I do this if it just postpones things?" and shaved my head instead. Every so often I miss being able to dye my hair for fun, but it turned out I look a lot better with a shaved head than with a head of hair. Who knew?
posted by davejay at 5:55 PM on December 1, 2009

by the way, since you said "thoughts...would be greatly appreciated", consider this thought: if your "best physical attribute" is your hair, perhaps this would be a good opportunity for you to start paying attention to what you eat and how much exercise you get and what kind of grooming/hygiene practices you follow
posted by davejay at 5:57 PM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

But also I asked "could you love a bald man?" and she said she could.

And she meant it, I bet.

My hairdresser acknowledged the thinning, leaned down to bring his face level with mine, made eye contact with me in the mirror and said, "I'm with you every step of the way. I'll never let you look foolish." I have an appointment with him tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.
posted by chrillsicka at 6:10 PM on December 1, 2009

Bald men are sexy. In fact men who care too much about their hair freak me out.
posted by Unred at 6:13 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

You don't say what your hair is like now. Do you get personal enjoyment out of your hair? If no one was going to see you, would still wear your hair how you like?

If you have long hair, and enjoy the feeling of having long hair and don't want to shave it when things get noticeable, consider if it's worth the money to you to try and keep it longer. Enjoy it while you got it. Sure, it's just "slowing the tide", but one day you're gonna die. Everything is just "slowing the tide" either way.

On the other hand, if you're only concerned about how others see you, just shave. Work on some of your other attributes if you feel they will be lacking without your hair.
posted by yohko at 6:47 PM on December 1, 2009

Today on NJTransit's PATH train, I saw a fellow who was desperately trying others from noticing his thinning hairline: he had the beginnings of a comb-over. Instead of looking good, though, he looked ridiculous. Please don't do that to yourself.

I adore men who are intelligent enough to realize that male pattern baldness is just a fact of life and to realize that shaving/trimming it close is usually the best way to go.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 6:50 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

let go of it... really... the person that is most concerned about your hair, your hairline, your bald spots, etc.... is you! The rest of the world could really care less. (and those that do care are NOT your friends or worth hanging out with, much less having a relationship with!)...

bask in your baldness!
posted by HuronBob at 6:50 PM on December 1, 2009

oops... "...desperately trying to keep others from noticing..."
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 6:51 PM on December 1, 2009

shave it. love it. take the $60/month you're saving ($30 haircut + $30 rogaine) and save up for a rockin' beach holiday with your girl. she'll appreciate your ability to prioritize.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:03 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have several guy friends who use it and started at the stage you are at. They all still have most of their hair but you can tell their hairlines are receding slightly. Purely anecdotal, but it seems to have worked pretty decently for the guys I know. If you like your hair and you have the cash why not? I don't think taking rogaine is an extreme step to keep your hair around a little longer and I definitely wouldn't judge a guy for taking it. I really think its no different than women highlighting their hair because they haven't been a natural blonde since they were 19 (guilty...).
posted by whoaali at 7:09 PM on December 1, 2009

My cousin tried to fight it. He used Rogaine, and it slowed it for a while, but it really doesn't stop it. He finally joined the rest of the family and bought clippers for his hair. You save the money you'd otherwise spend on Rogaine, along with the cash you spend on haircuts, gels, shampoos, and whatever else you might use.

Unless you have the dreaded Lumpy Head, you'll look fine if you shave, or better yet (less maintainance issues) crop it close, like level one or two on your clippers. Then, instead of the 'nice' hair you've got, you have a fuzzy head, which in my experience, women like to rub.

Join us. Join us...
posted by Ghidorah at 7:14 PM on December 1, 2009

Before you're born you get a choice.... you only get so many cells. You can use them for brains or hair.

At least that's what I tell people.

Hey, guess what else? 50 years from now, you'll probably be dead.

Buzz kill.

No Rogaine. Spend the money on piano lessons. Now that's worth something!

(Don't sweat the small stuff and remember, it's all small stuff. Hair isn't character or Palin would be a god.)
posted by FauxScot at 7:35 PM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

I too am in the depressing boat you are in, at roughly the same stage, OP. I had taken to wearing my hair a bit longer than high school, but my next haircut will see me back to sub-finger lengths. It's not what I want, and I don't particularly like it, but this particular war doesn't seem winnable. I'd say ask a stylist what they can do for you (that is not a combover of any breed.) Pantene Full & Thick shampoo will be able to help out for a year or two, but will end up just weighing what hair you have left down if it achieves any length.

Also--Unred: does that mean women who care too much about their hair should freak me out?
posted by Phyltre at 7:37 PM on December 1, 2009

Ohh come on people, there's no shame in keeping the hair you have. Yes you can look silly if you have a comb over, or other inappropriate haircut, but if you cut it right, there's no reason not to take propecia or use rogain. It works out to like 10 bucks a month if you go with the cut-the-high-dose-pills approach.

You can still shave your head while on the medicine, but then you ALSO have the option of not shaving your head. But there's little to nothing out there that'll really reverse hair loss. So if you are even a little worried, get on medication of some sort and keep what you have. If you decide it's a losing battle, or your hair isn't responding how you want, then you can make the informed decision to shave it off and call it good.
posted by cschneid at 8:47 PM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Go see a dermatologist. Some hair loss is the result of completely reversible conditions (e.g. you can lose hair because of a vitamin deficiency).

Your dermatologist is the only person that can give you medically informed advice.
posted by oddman at 9:23 PM on December 1, 2009

Embrace your scalp.
posted by Sallyfur at 11:28 PM on December 1, 2009

Same age here, with a very bald scalp. I started losing my hair in my early 20s. I used Rogaine for perhaps 3-6 months and disliked it intensely. My father, also bald, really wanted me to use it because he found that losing his hair was very stressful. He's responded with a combover, whereas I abandoned the Rogaine and started shaving my head.

So, yeah, another vote for shaving, or at least for cutting your hair incrementally shorter over time to work up to shaving. But I want to tell you, my friend, that this is not easy. It is hard to see your hair slowly disappear. It took me a few years to get used to my new look and, while I now have accepted my baldness, it is emphatically not easy to get used to the new look. If this is your fate - and perhaps it is not; maybe the stress is causing your hair loss? - I just want you to know that it's certainly not the end of the world, that you should expect an adjustment period, and that, if my experience is any guide, most people will be kind to you regarding your hair loss. It sounds like your SO will be cool with it, which is great. Good luck.
posted by cheapskatebay at 5:47 AM on December 2, 2009

If you buy it at Costco or probably other warehouse stores, minoxodil (generic rogaine) costs only $2.50 / month.

The thing about using it is that the only real way to tell if it's working is to stop using it. Then the hair that it was keeping alive in your head will all fall out. Probably not all at once though.

But it is a committment, and now it's really cheap, so if you're that worried about it, give it a shot. If you think that it's not slowing your hair loss, just stop using it.

You could also build yourself a laser helmet.

Good luck.
posted by reddot at 6:50 AM on December 2, 2009

I agree with cschneid. I don't think thinning hair looks bad at all, unless it's really straggly. It's kind of cute to me. My grandfathers, uncles, cousin, father, and a former semiromantic partner all have managed their thinning hair by getting short and flattering haircuts. No combovers. Obvious baldspots. I think they all look fine.

Head-shaving is fine, and sometimes looks great, but there's nothing bothersome or shameful about natural male hair loss. When people immediately jump toward the option of total baldness, it disappoints me. Many of them would look just fine with thinning hair, and look ridiculous with a shaven head.

(And my friends who have used Rogaine haven't necessarily been happy with it. They complained of greasiness, and low quality of regrown hair.)

Obviously, people should do what they need to do, to feel comfortable with their appearance. That kind of comfort is a big factor in how good you look to others.

So. You should get definitely get checked out by the doctor if this hair loss is bizarre in context of your genetics. But if it turns out you're just losing your hair, this is one vote for "Try Rogaine or Propecia if you want, but thinning hair in itself is not unattractive, and headshaving doesn't work for everyone."

(Note: I am female.)
posted by Coatlicue at 7:10 AM on December 2, 2009

Nthing forgetting about it. I started losing my hair young (~17), have a pretty serious receding hairline at 24. I stressed about it at first - even rocked a mohawk for a while to try and 'hide' it. But eventually I was just like fuck it, it is what it is. Best decision I ever made. It's just hair. It isn't worth the stress.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:42 AM on December 2, 2009

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