It’s okay for a man to be bald, right? Maybe, if you’ve lived a full, hard life, or if you’ve resigned yourself to being a monastic monk… But not for a virile, thirty-something lovegod! “We all know how important appearance is within the gay community – it might not be nice, but it’s a fact. And first impressions are critical”, exclaimed Robert, one of the guys that chatted to Mambaonline about being too young to be bald.
Androgenetic alopecia, also know as AGA, is undoubtedly the biggest culprit in the male hair loss calamity. By the time guys get to their fifties, one in two would’ve experienced the loss caused by AGA. And with any loss comes grief, with its myriad stages, so we decided to talk openly to a couple of friends who seemed to be in the same boat to Baldville.
After the initial shock; that moment when you realise that you’re losing hair at a rate faster than the deforestation of the Amazon – soon to be a patchy, desolate wasteland, and part of a greater no-sex disaster area – the denial sets in. George related in detail his surprise discovery: “I was looking at my lovely, shiny hair, and realised that I was admiring the tufts on the hairbrush, and not on my head! I think I even let out a little shriek. But I immediately told myself that it was temporary and not a problem.”
Denial is just the first of many stages, but it’s nearly impossible to continue denying a thinning head of hair with so many mirrors around. AGA is medically benign and involves both genetic and hormonal factors. Your genes determine which of the hairs on your head are sensitive to the androgen hormone – this hormone causes hair follicles to thin out, become weaker and some even die.
At the onset of hair loss you don’t even want to think about balding, and some guys assure themselves that it’ll stop or go away: of course, the only thing that keeps going away is your hair. “Naturally, you don’t want to face the music. Sad thing is, I later figured out that if I had reacted quicker, I would’ve had even more hair today”, commented James about his turning-a-blind-eye phase.
And so the bargaining starts and you set off on a mad mission to consider the options. “I went through ups and downs. One week I would try everything, the next week I’d fall back to what I called my ‘bald spot blind spot’. I actually bought the ‘hair’ in a spray can… Yes, I know, it’s just paint that you spray on your head! I tried the special combs, but they just made my scalp bleed. I even tried to convince others that hats were coming back in fashion…” confessed a chuckling Robert.
As the desperation grows friends might suggest hair transplants, but it’s a huge leap to take your makeover to the extreme. Most guys are understandably a little scared of facing needles or going under the knife. James told Mamba that he became very angry at the injustice of it all: “Going for surgery felt to me like when you’re a kid, and you spread your food around the plate to try to hide the fact that you didn’t finish dinner.” Perhaps a strange analogy, but it did convey the feelings of annoyance and powerlessness he was trying to verbalise.
Truth be told, with all the anti-hair loss scams and schemes on the market, no real hair-growth promoting products existed until recently. Bogus solutions abound, but from a medical point of view there was very little that someone suffering from AGA could do.
For many men hair loss means almost zero confidence. This low self-image influences all areas of your life: from work to play. “I just wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out”, said Gerry. He experienced the associated depression quite badly. He chatted at length about being at the prime of your life, but feeling like it’s the end because your hair is becoming dearly departed.
Recently a survey involving 1500 men from five European countries showed that hair loss correlated with a negative self-image. And balding even had an effect on the way that men behaved in their personal relationships. The men surveyed believed that male pattern hair loss negatively affected their personal attractiveness, self-esteem and levels of self confidence. The survey clearly showed that most men believe that ‘bald is not sexy’.
The denial and haphazard bargaining, the feelings of anger and depression are unnecessary, and you don’t have to suffer because you might be the one in two with the AGA problem. Larry, a young guy with an attractive head of hair – evidently not a prospective AGA sufferer – confided in us that he once was also losing his hair. But he admitted to using medication, with great results. There are only one or two scientifically-proven, USA’s FDA-approved hair loss prevention products available, and Larry is using Propecia, with Finasteride being the magical ingredient.
“I also tried using those shampoos,” adds Larry, but it was just too much effort. Taking a Propecia pill once a day is much simpler”, (referring to the hair re-growth shampoos and topical products available on the market, which have had some success).
In a 5-year clinical study, based on photographic assessment, 90% of men treated with Propecia stopped losing hair. Only 25% of the guys on the placebos were that lucky. And based on the actual hair count, 65% of men treated with Propecia had an increase in hair count. In contrast, 100% of the placebo-treated men had a decrease in hair count.
Almost all men have a problem with balding or thinning hair at some point in their lives, but to start losing hair at a relatively early age is just not fair. Propecia was originally developed to treat guys with prostrate problems, and doctors started noticing improvements in the condition of the subjects’ hair. It’s a prescription drug, so see your doctor if you’re considering stopping your hair loss in its track via medication.
Many (usually those with a full head of hair) would argue that we should accept that hair loss is part of being a full-blooded man. But the reality remains that few of us rarely do when it happens. The good news is that there finally are scientifically-tested, viable solutions available to prevent hair loss, and using one is easier than you think. And remember, the sooner you act, the more chance you’ll be successful in keeping your manly locks.
NB: Names have been changed to protect the balding.