Male pattern baldness is the common type of hair loss that develops in many men at some stage. The condition is sometimes called androgenetic alopecia. It is caused by a combination of hereditary (genetic) and hormonal factors.
Hair is made in hair follicles. A hair normally grows from each hair follicle for about three years. It is then shed and a new hair grows from the follicle. As balding develops, affected hair follicles gradually become smaller than normal. Each new hair that grows is thinner and shed more quickly than before. This eventually leads to a much smaller hair follicle and a thin hair that does not grow out to the skin surface.
Male hormones are involved in causing these changes. Hair follicles convert testosterone (the main male hormone) into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone. Affected hair follicles become more sensitive to dihydrotestosterone and this causes the hair follicles to shrink.
For some men, this normal ageing process can be distressing, particularly if it is excessive or occurs early in life. Treatment with finasteride can help prevent further hair loss. It works by stopping the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone.
Finasteride is only available on a prescription from a doctor, but it is not available on the NHS. This means you will be asked to pay the full price of the tablets when you receive your supply.