It’s often said that bald men are more virile. But why is this and is there any science to back it up?
The apparent link comes down to levels of testosterone. The story goes that excess levels of testosterone leads to baldness and therefore, bald men have more testosterone. And as excess testosterone does actually increase your sex drive, a connection was born.
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While some of this is partly true, it doesn’t tell the whole story. The original theory has been around for millennia. Hippocrates and Aristotle noticed the link between people who had been castrated and their lack of hair loss.
The theory was tested later when James B. Hamilton, a student at Yale, saw a connection between men who had been castrated and their lack of male pattern baldness. He suggested it was the removal of testosterone that helped them keep their hair.
And from there the idea developed that high levels of testosterone leads to baldness.
Any truth to it?
While there is some science behind the claim, there’s not actually concrete truth in it.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a hormone made from testosterone. It is found in the skin, hair follicles and in the prostate. It is this DHT – which is far more potent than regular testosterone – which shrinks hair follicles and begins the process of balding.
However, studies have shown that any level of DHT or regular testosterone in the body can cause hair loss. Even the smallest amount. The only people who didn’t suffer hair loss related to testosterone levels where those who had it removed completely – the eunuchs.
To put the myth to bed, a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia looked at virility levels in bald men. It found that there was no significant association between baldness and the frequency of ejaculations. In fact, bald men were less likely to have had more than four female sexual partners in their life.
There’s also the fact that as men get older, they are more likely to go bald. This is also the time when their testosterone levels drop.
What really causes hair loss?
In reality, hair loss happens for a number of reasons. Male pattern baldness is down to genetics, family traits and simply getting older.
The human hair goes through a cycle which, while fairly uniform, is subtly different for each hair. This is why they all don’t fall out at once.
Hairs have a growth period after which they shut down for a while then fall out. On average, humans lose around 80 hairs a day.
Hair loss through the likes of alopecia is thought to be caused by a number of problems include those with the immune system, genetics and stress.