Our hair is often seen as our crowning glory and is one of the first things we notice about someone. According to a recent survey conducted in 2022, approximately 44% of Singaporean respondents cited hair loss as a top hair concern1.
But not all hair loss is created equal — men and women experience balding differently, and the occasional hair in the shower sink does not mean you are experiencing hair loss that require medical concern.
In this article, allow me to explain the difference between male and female pattern hair loss and how treatment options differ.
The average adult loses about 50-100 strands a day, and while that sounds like a lot, it is normal especially when compared to the approximately 100,000 strands of hair we have on our head. New hair grows and replaces the hair we lose; however in some individuals, this normal process is disrupted resulting in hair loss or alopecia.
Hair loss is a common problem that affects mostly older people and can occur in both men and women. Male and female pattern hair loss is the most common type of hair loss, and their symptoms are as follows:
If you have any of the symptoms stated above, you may be experiencing hair loss.
Hair loss can either occur suddenly or over a period of time and it may be temporary or permanent.
Temporary hair loss, also known as hair shedding, does not involve any damage to the hair follicles and usually occurs as a result of certain trigger events such as pregnancy and subsequent delivery, stress, medications, infections, illnesses, or treatments for illnesses.
Temporary hair loss usually occurs a few months after the trigger and once your body readjusts, your hair usually regrows within 6 to 9 months.
Symptoms of temporary hair loss include:
Male or female pattern hair loss occurs as a result of a combination of factors such as genetics, autoimmune disorders, medication or treatment for illnesses, tight hairstyles, damaging hair care products, and hormonal imbalance. Such hair loss involves permanent damage to the hair follicles and usually affects the crown of your head or your hairline.
Symptoms of hair loss include:
There are a few similarities with male and female pattern baldness. They are usually hereditary and can begin early, soon after puberty and the scalp is usually healthy with no sign of infection or other symptoms. However, there are several differences between the two which are outlined in the table below.
|Male pattern baldness||Female pattern baldness|
|Hair loss affects center of the scalp||Hair loss affects the whole scalp and rarely affects the hairline|
|Hair loss affects the hairline giving it an M-shaped pattern||Hair loss occurs in a “Christmas tree” pattern down the middle part of the hair|
|Men with male pattern baldness tend to become completely bald eventually||Women with female pattern baldness do not usually become completely bald|
Yes, remember, we are referring to a balding pattern so men can display what is conventional described as female pattern hair loss. Although female pattern hair loss typically occurs in females, it can also occur in men, although the rate of incidence is low.
According to a study conducted in 2020, about 3.7%2 of male hair loss patients had female pattern hair loss2. Males who experience female pattern baldness tend to have the same pattern of hair loss as seen in females such as overall thinning of hair on the whole scalp and no receding hairline.
The treatment options for pattern hair loss depends on the cause but in general both male and female pattern hair loss can be treated in the following ways:
While there are a number of shared treatment options, there are also some treatments that are gender specific.
Treatment for male pattern hair loss
Although finasteride and other anti-androgen medication can be used to treat female pattern hair loss, it is usually not advisable as it can cause potential complications in pregnant women.
Hair loss can be devastating for men and women — but it is a very treatable condition. It is important to see a clinician early to stop further hair loss. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a message.