Androgens restrict the growth cycle of hair. By not allowing the hair to reach its optimum growth, which is approximately three and a half years and 21 inches long, it stops at, say, three years, then two and a half years, two years and so on. A shorter growth phase results in the hair being shed sooner – hair doesn’t remain in the scalp unless it is growing. You may not always notice extra fall (although the chances are that you will), but a secondary change also occurs, i.e. the hair strands become finer, thinner in diameter. Two further things then occur. Firstly, thinner textured hairs resulting from hairs that were thicker also don’t grow as long. Additionally, they take up less space, so there is more area between the hairs. Compare 100 thumbs (as hairs) and 100 fingers on the same site. The ‘thumbs’ would have appeared to be thicker, which they were, and stronger, which they also were, compared to the fingers that are there now, giving less volume overall. The ‘fingers’ are eventually replaced by little fingers (‘pinkies’), lasting less time. And so it goes on until only fluffy hairs grow, or non-meaningful hairs as I call them – they don’t mean anything to the look of your hair because you can’t see them.
Research has shown that when a hair reaches a diameter of 40 microns, it rarely grows longer than 80mm (3/3 inches). This appears to be a crucial stage, when often the hair loss can appear to accelerate noticeably. However, sometimes the deterioration seems to stop and the quantity remains similar for a long time.
There are numerous instances when the rate of hair fall doesn’t noticeably change yet the hair is obviously getting thinner and receding. This is a slower progression and isn’t noticed until it reaches an obvious stage, whereby the man thinks it has happened very fast and can’t understand why he hadn’t noticed more hair fall.
Everyone loses hairs daily, even if you don’t see them fall out, particularly if the hair is short. It’s the replacement hairs that have become gradually finer; then suddenly there is an awareness to the loss of volume or the recession, again the thought being that it has happened quickly. The rate of shedding and change in diameters also fluctuate. Often for no discernable reason your hair seems to go into remission and remain the same for months or longer – or even appear to improve. However, the changes over a year or two are usually remorseless.