Is early onset male hair loss equivalent of PCOS in women?

A medical team in India has recently carried out a study to determine the similarities between early onset male hair loss and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Otherwise referred to as early androgenetic alopecia, there have been many reports stating that the condition is the phenotypic equivalent of PCOS in women.

However, up until now there have been very few studies carried out to determine the validity of these reports. If proven to be similar to PCOS, it would mean men suffering from the condition wouldn’t just have to worry about losing their self-esteem; they’d also have to worry about potential future health issues.

Hormonal profile found to replicate PCOS

The report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows significant similarities between early onset male hair loss and PCOS in women. The hormonal parameters of men suffering with early onset hair loss were found to almost be an exact match to women suffering from PCOS.

A total of 57 men from the ages of 19 to 30, suffering with male pattern baldness were studied from January 2014 and March 2015. The Indian team also recruited 32 age-matched men who showed no signs of hair loss to compare profiles.

Over the course of a year, the two groups were tested for insulin, follicle stimulating hormones and testosterone. The 57 men with early onset hair loss showed a dramatic increased level of testosterone compared to the other group. Other hormonal differences were also recorded and showed to replicate the profile of PCOS.

Understanding PCOS in women

It is thought PCOS affects 1 in 5 women in the UK. However, not all women with the condition will experience symptoms and, therefore, won’t seek diagnosis. Like early onset male pattern baldness, PCOS is extremely common, yet its cause remains unknown. It is thought to be genetically linked and has shown to be related to abnormal hormone levels – particularly insulin.

Many women are surprised to learn that their PCOS is linked to male hormones such as testosterone. While it is considered a male hormone, it is also naturally present in women, just usually in lower levels. Interestingly, the male androgen hormone also leads to hair thinning in women suffering with the condition. It is unclear exactly how prevalent androgenic alopecia is in PCOS sufferers, but reports suggest it occurs in 40% to 70% of cases.

Health issues associated with PCOS and early onset male hair loss

The study reported in the Journal of American Medical Association does suggest males suffering with early onset hair loss have the same health risks as women with PCOS. These include:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease

Overall, one of the most interesting findings of the study was that regardless of severity, all men suffering with early onset hair loss were at the same risks of developing the health problems associated with PCOS.

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