What you need to understand about hair loss is that there are two types.
One is male pattern baldness, which is the acceleration of hair permanently being lost via androgen miniaturization at the hair follicle, which is what most guys are experiencing.
And the other is shedding.
Shedding is often misinterpreted as permanent loss, and it can cause a lot of people to make wild changes in their prevention protocols thinking that something's not working, or they are rapidly accelerating their male pattern baldness.
First of all, you need to understand what shedding is.
Basically, how hair naturally grows is in a life cycle.
And this life cycle is fairly long as your hair goes through a growth phase and eventually completes the life cycle and falls out of your head.
Everyone has his or her own life cycle.
Typically, you're going to have a seasonal shed. That is the first thing you have to realize.
This is something I had no clue about and every summer seemingly around the same time I would sporadically lose a bunch of hair.
Three years in a row I thought it was my protocol that was just not working anymore.
The first couple times I freaked out and I'd start swapping stuff in and out, changing what supplements I was taking, and I would start messing with my TRT.
But I started to realize it was a pattern.
Every single summer season I would have a brutal shed and it was literally the life cycle of my hair completing and a bunch of hair falling out.
Totally normal, but that's not permanent loss and you have to be able to differentiate between the two.
Other Causes Of Temporary Shedding
You can screw yourself over if you don't assess what's going on correctly.
Here are some examples of other things that cause sheds.
Chemotherapy For Cancer
Cancer patients when get Chemotherapy, they lose their hair and they go bald.
Is that a permanent loss? Is that the permanent miniaturization of the hair follicles?
No, it's the introduction of harsh chemicals to the body that causes hair to shed.
That's a perfect example of shedding which is temporary loss.
That hair is going to grow back once you discontinued that stress on your body that's resulting in that shed.
Nutrient Deficiencies, Thyroid Conditions/Deficiencies, Autoimmune Diseases, Hormone Imbalances/Deficiencies
Another example, let’s say you've totally crushed your DHT with Dutasteride and you're also addressing Testosterone derived miniaturization with an anti-androgen.
But you're still losing your hair for some reason.
Check your Ferritin and Iron levels. Are those where they're supposed to be?
They might not be, which causes hair shedding.
What are your Vitamin B12 levels? Are they where they’re supposed to be? Are you getting enough of it?
Do you have a Thyroid deficiency?
Even if you’re addressing your Thyroid condition with an exogenous source of synthetic Thyroid hormones, do those have fillers in it that your body is having an autoimmune response to?
Is your T3 pooling in your blood and not being absorbed into the cells correctly?
Do you have adrenal issues caused by a lack of (or excess of) Cortisol?
Are your Estrogen levels too low?
Do you have an autoimmune disorder caused by leaky gut syndrome where you are not absorbing nutrients properly and/or you're allergic to something you're eating and there is a downstream mechanism occurring in your causing you to shed?
There are a lot of things to consider here.
Real Life Example Of Autoimmune Disease Causing Hair Loss
Somebody I was dating for a while had a leaky gut syndrome.
She was intolerant to certain things in her diet (common things in most western diets).
The result of that was unknowingly triggering an autoimmune disease, which would attack her Thyroid gland, which caused her to have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
This autoimmune disease would cause her antibody count to go through the roof and she'd get a bunch of Hypothyroid symptoms, including hair loss (temporary shedding).
Her thyroid was slowly being killed off and she eventually had to go on thyroid hormone replacement drugs.
And that opened her up to a whole new skew of things because if you have too much or too little, you're going to continue to shed.
The solution to that would first be addressing the gut microbiome by preventing the leaky gut syndrome with dietary and lifestyle changes, followed by rebuilding of the gut’s healthy bacteria, followed thereafter with exogenous hormone replacement if the Thyroid gland was unable to recover adequate function.
Basically in that scenario, the Thyroid hormones are just a bandaid to the issue, which was the autoimmune attack occurring due to lifestyle factors that needed to be changed, which is one of the reasons why some individuals with Hypothyroidism still feel like crap even when they use Thyroid hormones to address their Hypothyroidism.
It’s not the root of the issue, and the problem just worsens as time goes on.
Other Random Nutritional Examples That I Had To Deal With In The Past
Are you having a ton of pasteurized liquid egg whites with avidin in them, which are inhibiting your Biotin from getting absorbed correctly?
Are you not having enough Iodine?
Do you have an adequate daily intake of Selenium?
There’re so many things that you need to look at.
This Is Complicated Derek. What’s The First Thing I Should Do?
At the end of the day, you want to cover your basis.
Prevent androgens from miniaturizing your hair follicles is the first step.
This is dealt with by addressing your endogenous DHT and Testosterone.
Whichever drugs you choose to go about doing that, or how you go about doing it, will be your personal preference, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, but you need to address your androgens plain and simple.
Once you have that base established you can start looking at all the other things if you're still losing your hair.
If you're having brutal shedding, did you just start Minoxidil and you haven't waited for the shedding period to complete?
Or maybe you've induced acute telogen effluvium because you started using Minoxidil and then you stopped using it abruptly because you were worried about the shedding phase that ensued and you thought it would be permanent instead of sticking it out and you're sporadically going on and off of it.
Maybe you’re using other drugs that are causing hormone fluctuations.
Hormone fluctuations is another thing that causes shedding.
Random peptides and PED’s can cause shedding.
Melanotan II for example.
It's not even hormonal and it makes a lot of guys experience temporary shedding (for however long they stay on it).
There are so many things you have to go look at but the thing you have to realize is if you're covered in your androgens and you're preventing miniaturization from occurring, you're stopping the permanent loss from occurring, which is the main focus here.
Then you can focus on the other stuff, which which includes nutritional deficiencies, potential unaddressed underlying autoimmune conditions, hormone deficiencies, etc.
The Takeaway Message
The takeaway message is that you need to realize shedding is different than Androgenic Alopecia, and it's not permanent.
As soon as you remove that stressor from your system, the shedding should discontinue shortly.
For example, if you have a hormone fluctuation because you just started Finasteride for the first time, it's accompanied by shed, that's typical.
After it completes, then you stop shedding, but does that mean because you're shedding that that's permanent?
No, its just part of the process.
The same applies for anything non-androgen related really (almost every single time).
If you have a Biotin deficiency (rare, but it happens) and then you start getting your Biotin in, then the hair shedding will stop.
The reason why shedding is often perceived as permanent loss is because most individuals don’t realize there is something in their lifestyle causing shedding in the first place.
The result is that they shed for years on end, which leads to a loss of hair density.
Because of the length of time the shedding is occurring, the typical assumption is that it’s just androgenic alopecia, but the reality is that it’s the unaddressed factor causing shedding that still hasn’t been rectified.
Until they get those root factors resolved, they will continue to shed until that deficiency, imbalance, condition, whatever it may be, is fixed.
The Hair Pull Test To Assess If You Are Experiencing Shedding Or Male Pattern Baldness
I don't believe this method is a definitive way to evaluate things, but this is something you can try to assess if you're shedding as opposed to experiencing male pattern baldness.
If you're shedding, you're probably going to have shedding all over your head, as opposed to just the androgen prone hairs on the top of your scalp.
The hairs on top of your head are the androgen sensitive hair.
These are the ones that are going to get miniaturized from androgens.
George Costanza is a perfect example of where the border ends between androgen affected hairs, and non-androgen affected hairs on the scalp.
The reason for this pattern is because he has extreme male pattern baldness.
Take a pinch of what would be androgen-affected hairs, and then pull out.
If you have 3 or more hairs every single time you try that, and you do it several times with each attempt resulting in 3 or more hairs coming out of the top of your head, you're probably experiencing miniaturization of the hair follicles from androgens.
If you're experiencing Androgenic Alopecia the hairs on the sides of your head that aren’t affected by androgens won’t come out of your head when you try that same test on them.
Alternatively, if you were just shedding you would also get 3 or more hairs when you test the sides (non-androgen affected) of your head.
Is that super accurate? Probably not.
If you have a fade, or you have really short sides, it's pretty difficult to even pinch hair to begin with to make this assessment.
I prefer using blood work and actual scientific methods of addressing things, however, this hair pull test is an easy and quick way to get a quick assessment of your current situation.
If one thing in the chain of events to hair growth is out of order, you're likely going to experience hair shedding in some capacity.
It's not permanent in the sense of that you're going to never get that hair back, but it is permanent in the sense that you're going to keep shedding it until you address the deficiency/imbalance/whatever it may be.
And then once you address it, your hair should return to normal.
In my experience, 99% of cases of hair loss in men are androgen related though, caused by your endogenous DHT and Testosterone, so getting a foundation established to deal with the androgen issue should be the number one priority in my opinion.