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DHT is the cause of 95% of men’s hair loss—it’s the single most important factor in male pattern baldness.
But what is DHT?
You’re in the right place. In this article, our team breaks down what DHT is and why DHT causes hair loss. We’ll also explain how DHT blockers work and describe how effective they are at treating hair loss.
DHT is short for “dihydrotestosterone”. It is an androgen, which means that it’s a male sex hormone. It is involved in the regulation and development of male sex characteristics.
In addition to being important to the development of male embryos and during puberty, DHT is also implicated as an important factor in hair loss.
DHT is a metabolite of testosterone, which means that it’s produced when testosterone is broken down in the body.
Certain tissues in the male body, including the prostate, testes, skin, and hair follicles, produce an enzyme called 5α-reductase. This enzyme reacts with testosterone. One of the products of that reaction is DHT.
DHT is responsible for male-pattern hair loss—often called androgenetic alopecia (AGA).
DHT causes AGA by binding to androgen receptors on the hair follicle, causing it to shrink. The follicle continues to shrink and weaken over time until it eventually dies. When the follicle dies, it can no longer produce new hair.
While stress, diet, and other lifestyle factors can play a role in hair loss, by far the biggest factor for men suffering from AGA is the level of DHT in their scalp and hair follicles. This type of hair loss is very common, affecting about half of all men by the age of 50.
If DHT causes hair loss and all men have DHT, why do only some men go bald?
It has to do with your genes. Some men are genetically susceptible to this type of hair loss while others aren’t. Men with a particular genetic make-up have hair follicles that are particularly sensitive to DHT. The follicles that are more sensitive are more prone to shrinking when they bind to DHT.
If the other men in your family don’t exhibit male pattern baldness, you may be lucky. But if you’ve noticed your hairline starting to recede or the hair on the top of your head starting to thin, you’re likely to fall into the group that is genetically susceptible to AGA.
If that’s you, consider starting treatment—and soon.
In guys who are genetically susceptible to AGA, high DHT levels mean more hair loss. That’s where DHT blockers come in.
DHT blockers are medications that—you guessed it—block DHT.
They do that by binding to 5α-reductase, the enzyme that’s part of the reaction that turns testosterone into DHT. By inhibiting this enzyme, less testosterone is converted into DHT, and there is an overall reduction in DHT levels.
As a result of this lower concentration of DHT, less of it binds to hair follicles, so fewer follicles start to shrink and die. The follicles stay healthy and continue to produce hair.
Think of DHT blockers like a barrier between testosterone and the 5α-reductase enzyme. By keeping these two apart, they can’t create DHT, and so your hair continues to grow without interruption.
If you’ve done any research on DHT blockers, you’ve probably seen a huge list of “natural” DHT blockers like caffeine, pumpkin seed oil, green tea, or even DHT blocker shampoos. While some research suggests that caffeine may effectively reduce DHT, there isn’t much evidence at all that any of the other “natural DHT blockers” are actually effective.
The only two DHT blockers that currently have been found to be effective are finasteride and dutasteride. These are both oral medications that are available in Canada with a prescription.
There’s a lot of grandiose claims in the men’s health world, and it can be hard to distinguish real, effective treatments from the ones that are just marketed well.
But finasteride and dutasteride really do work. There has been a ton of research on the effectiveness of these two DHT blocking medications.
Studies in the 1990s confirmed that finasteride significantly reduces DHT levels. Further research found that it increased hair counts by up to 15%. A meta-analysis and systematic review of high-quality studies evaluating the effectiveness of finasteride found that it is significantly better than a placebo in improving hair growth and perceived thickness.
Dutasteride, too, is supported by research. It’s been found to result in significantly increased hair counts and is well-tolerated by most individuals. In fact, the existing research suggests that dutasteride may be more effective than finasteride. Where finasteride reduces DHT by about 70%, dutasteride reduces it by about 95%. It seems to also result in better hair growth outcomes than finasteride, and is just as safe.
Side effects of finasteride and dutasteride are rare. In clinical studies, only about 3.8% of participants display adverse reactions to the medication.
Of the small group that does experience side effects, the most commonly reported effects are:
When these side effects do occur, they tend to be mild or moderate. They also almost always resolve upon discontinuation of treatment.
Overall, both finasteride and dutasteride are considered safe and well-tolerated for most men.
Finasteride and dutasteride are both available in Canada from pharmacies with a prescription from a healthcare practitioner.
Our clinic can help you find the treatment that’s right for you. Just start your quick online hair loss assessment and tell us your preferred treatment. Our medical team will conduct an evaluation and, if appropriate, prescribe your medication and ship it right to your home. It’s simple and hassle-free.
If you’re noticing hair loss, start treatment right away. DHT causes your hair follicles to miniaturize slowly, so hair loss is gradual.
But once a hair follicle dies—it won’t produce any more hair.
Hair loss treatments are effective, but only if you start it when your hair follicles are still alive. The earlier you start your treatment, the earlier you can prevent DHT from interrupting your hair growth, and the more effective your treatment will be.
DHT is the cause of most men’s hair loss. Once you understand what it is and what it does, it actually becomes the key to a healthy, full head of hair.
The most effective way to treat male pattern baldness is to reduce DHT with DHT blockers—finasteride and dutasteride. These keep your DHT levels low so that your hair follicles can continue to grow your hair, uninterrupted.
DHT blockers are safe, effective, and easy to get in Canada. And the sooner you get started, the more hair you’ll have.
Get your hair loss treatment consultation today.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.