The terms baldness, male type hair loss, genetic hair loss and androgenetic alopecia (hereditary male type hair loss) are synonyms; hairs generally shed from anterior and top regions (vertex) of the head, but the back and sides generally have hair in male subjects. In female subjects, on the other hand, hair loss is generally genetic and hairs usually shed in a dispersed manner.
Diagnosis of androgenetic alopecia is more common in male subjects. This condition can usually be diagnosed easily by investigating the distribution of hair loss and examining the shedding hairs in the regions where hair gets thinner. This condition, called miniaturization, implies decrease in diameter and length of hair and it can be measured with a device called “Densitometer”. Miniaturization is only seen in genetic hair loss cases. Hair loss in other family members also helps diagnosis of genetic male type hair loss. However, history of hair loss in other family members may not always be seen. In women, genetic hair loss does not have a specific appearance that helps diagnosis.
Therefore, the cause cannot be determined solely with examination. Briefly, various underlying medical disorders can result in a hair loss pattern similar to genetic hair loss in women. In women, hair loss caused by various nonhereditary reasons such as pregnancy, gynecologic disorders, use of oral contraceptives, thyroid diseases can mimic the hair loss pattern seen in genetic type hair loss.