What Does the DHT Hormone Do?
Although testosterone is commonly known as the end-all-be-all of male hormones, the reality is that there are many hormones required for the male body to perform optimally. These hormones are all produced by your body is pretty specific amounts, which helps maintain a certain hormone balance. No one hormone is more important than the next since they all work together to affect your reproductive system and sex drive, help your body grow, react to stimuli, and to regulate chemical reactions.
One of these important hormones is Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, and although it gets a bad rap for being directly related to hair loss, proper amounts are required to aid the male body in many important functions. Testosterone may be the most talked about of the male hormones, but it can be beneficial to understand each and every one of the hormones that help your body perform at its best, including DHT.
DHT Is Responsible for Many Basic Functions
Dihydrotestosterone, which is sometimes called “androstanolone” or just “stanolone,” is an endogenous hormone, which means it is produced within the cells inside various tissues inside the prostate gland, brain, liver, skin, hair follicles, and seminal vesicles. DHT binds tocertain androgen receptors to create biological responses throughout your body.
DHT is especially important during gestation, as it works to determine sexual differentiation. During a male’s puberty, DHT plays a huge role in the maturation of the penis and other sex organs, as well as the growth of hair on the face and body, including the genital area.
DHT is derived from testosterone with the help of the 5a-reductase enzyme. DHT is necessary for healthy growth and development in young boys and continues to play a role in many functions, especially sexual functions, in adult men. It promotes healthy functions in the testicles which help to maintain a healthy sperm count.
Low DHT is often linked to some serious conditions, such as prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. Symptoms of low DHT levels include the loss or lack of body hair, decreased sex drive or readiness for sex, a low sperm count, and sometimes fatigue.
DHT In Medications
Although less common than an excess of DHT, some men experience a DHT deficiency. The lack of DHT can result in a condition called Hypogonadism, which for men means low functioning testicles. DHT deficiency creates a need for a type of medication that is used to replace DHT in the body. This medication is given during hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and may be taken by mouth, applied topically, or via injections. However, DHT is not easily available and is not available at all in the United States or Canada.
DHT Related to Male Pattern Baldness
An excess of DHT has been linked as a leading cause of alopecia, or hair loss, in men, especially concerning male pattern hair loss. Researchers and medical professionals are unable to produce a firm explanation of how excessive DHT results in hair loss on the scalp, especially considering DHT is ironically responsible for most of the hair growth on the body, but the direct link has been seen time and time again in men who suffer from hair loss. Some theories exist, although nothing has been proven.
Some researchers believe that excess DHT that is not utilized by the body for other functions binds to certain androgen receptors inside the hair follicle which kickstarts a sort of “miniaturizing” process. Hair follicles rotate through three stages of hair growth, including the anagen phase where new hair is produced, the catagen phase where new hair cells bond with the old hair root, and the telogen phase when the follicle rests before returning to the first phase again.
“Miniaturizing” refers to the theoretical shrinking of the anagen phase, whereas the telogen phase lengthens. This means that less new hair cells are produced and are sometimes not able to bind with old cells before the follicle returns to its resting phase, which is why strands of hair may fall out and never grow back.
Other researchers believe in a similar process of shrinking, except that the hair follicle itself shrinks in size, along with the hair strand. The strand eventually becomes so thin that it simply falls out. Of course, none of these theories about DHT and how it relates to hair loss have been proven through scientific study, but DHT blockers have shown significant improvement in hair loss for some men.
The Need for DHT Blockers and How They Work
Because male pattern baldness is such a common problem, and pattern hair loss affects as much as 85% of men by age 50, some researchers saw a need for a product to reduce the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Understanding the process of how DHT is created will help you understand how DHT blockers work.
Enzymes are catalysts for chemical reactions inside the body. The enzyme 5a-reductase binds with some of the testosterone in the male body. The resulting chemical reaction creates the hormone DHT. In order to reduce excess amounts of DHT in the male body, researchers decided to create a solution that prevents DHT from being created,to begin with.
These blockers actually reduce the production of the 5a-reductase enzyme, which in turn reduces the conversion of testosterone into DHT. DHT blockers are much less “DHT blockers” than they are “5a-reductase blockers”, but that isn’t quite as catchy.
Check with Your Doctor with Your DHT Concerns
If you think that you have an underproduction of DHT or that a DHT blocker could be useful to you, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she can perform simple tests to determine your DHT levels. You should not start any medication or make serious lifestyle changes, including beginning the use of an over the counter DHT blocker without first consulting your doctor. Your doctor will be able to help you better determine your needs and what products are safe for you. Regular checkups will help you catch DHT and other hormone imbalances early so that you can avoid serious health conditions.