Some people, especially those contemplating becoming TS worry about the loss of hair. What’s the cause?
Now here's some interesting facts, I think? Scientists working on that age old problem of male baldness have discovered the cause, lack of hair! Yes, if people only had more hair baldness would be a thing of the past. Sorry, just my little quip...
Why does men's hair thin and drop out? Well it's not so much drop out, because hair is constantly dropping out, it's the fact that new hair stops growing to replace it, that's the problem, and what has baldness got to do with cross-dressing I hear you ask? Well if you bear with me through the subsequent paragraphs you may well find out.
Let's for a moment consider the problem of hair loss, I know some of our less thatched members might be equally interested in this.
The potential for going bald runs in families - that is, the tendency towards it is passed on in the genes - and these genes can be passed from either the mother or the father. In men the trait of baldness is dominant - in other words, if a boy receives the gene from either parent, he has the potential to develop the condition. In a girl the condition has to be inherited from both parents for her to run any risk at all of becoming bald.
However inheriting the genes for baldness does not actually cause the condition. It is an interaction of the genes with the male hormone testosterone that starts the process: for example, eunuchs never go bald. And why? Because they have missing the same thing that women have missing... Mmm, well, come on now, you've had time to think, have you guessed? No, no it's not a set of cigarette cards showing football teams of the world, we're talking here about round spherical chemical factories that dangle precariously below God's wonderful gift to man, his phallus.
Men produce testosterone in their testicles after puberty, other similar androgens are produced to a much lesser extent in both men and women by the adrenal glands on top of each kidney, so that's the geography sorted out.
The triggering of male pattern baldness by testosterone was discovered in the 1940s by James Hamilton in the USA. He used for his study a number of men who had been castrated before puberty - a treatment fortunately no longer carried out for boys showing what they described as "aberrant behaviour". These men would never have been exposed to testosterone.
Hamilton discovered a pair of twins, one of whom had been castrated before puberty and the other who hadn't. The castrated twin had, at the age of 40, a full head of hair; the normal twin had been balding for twenty years. Hamilton in the interests of science, gave testosterone to the castrated twin and within a six month period, the latter had become as bald as the brother had over a twenty year period. (I bet he was really happy about that little scientific test!)
The experiment showed that the baldness depended on three elements, the genes needed to be present - the male hormone has to be present to trigger the response - the third element is that follicles seem to have a timing mechanism. The follicles in the castrated man lost twenty years of hair in six months!
The interaction of the genes and the testosterone is still not clear. Like all hormones, the testosterone is transported by the blood, from which it is picked up by receptors in the cell walls and is then transported into the cells of the hair follicles. There, in the cytoplasm inside each of the cells, testosterone is converted by an enzyme into its active form, dihydratestosterone.
It's this dihydratestostrone which is the key to balding and also responsible for the bit were interested in, the male pattern of hair growth, beard and body hair. So the argument goes, if you were to remove or block the dihydratestosterone you would potentially have the same hair growth as a woman or prepubescent boy. Interesting?
Research is being done, aimed at trying to block this active hormone. Anti-androgens have been tried, taken by mouth and as a topical solution applied to the scalp. The idea being to reduce the active amount of hormone level in the scalp, and yes, the limited trials have been reported as partially successful.
The research findings at present into the reduction of androgen-dependent hair growth tells us that the use of ethinylestratradiol and cyproterone acetate has proven to be fairly effective on the trunk and limbs, but has only had limited success on the face (If the beard has already developed). The body hair does not disappear, but following suppression of androgen dependent growth, the hair becomes less coarse and so less visible, resembling the vellus hair on the female body. Just in case you were looking for an overnight pill, the research study was based on the subjects taking the drugs for five months. It was concluded that if hairlessness was required the only effective solution would be to have electrolysis and the drugs together.
Just in case some of our "hair disadvantaged" members might be tempted to take the above two drugs to restore their lack of flowing locks, the tests have shown that where as hair loss is halted, the regrowth of hair due to the androgen suppression effects of the drugs is incomplete and what does grow back is hair of the vellus type, oh, and by the way a couple of the other side effects of these drugs are tiredness, depression, weight gain, breast enlargement and osteoporosis to name but a few.
I wrote to a famous hair clinic in London asking if they knew how advanced the research was, and asking what the potential was for cross dressers using the product when it finally came onto the market.
The answer from the learned physician who replied was, "Why bother with topical solutions, why not just take Androcur?"
Now Androcur or to the uninitiated cyproterone acetate (remember that one from a couple of paragraphs ago) taken by mouth would inhibit the testosterone completely. I wrote back explaining some of the slight differences between TVs and TSs just to further his understanding.
The reply came back now more enlightened and said that the research would eventually mean that sufficient knowledge would be gained to target just the dihydratestosterone and so inhibit the male pattern hair growth. The catch would be though, it would all depend on the demand, as with all these scientific developments it's the pay back to the people who own the research clinics that count.
Where's the benefit to the TV world then you may ask? Well, a drug of the anti-androgen type, once developed further could lead to a three monthly, or yearly implant of a "targeted anti-androgen", eliminating male pattern hair growth without getting rid of the important bit, the male. Finally see the tenuous connection? It might not be the time to think about selling your shares in Gillette yet but who knows what developments lay ahead.
Baldness cures are big earners hence the research. Hands up how many TVs would be interested in buying the new product? That's the sort of question the companies who develop the products ask.
Perhaps we're not that far away before science fiction really does start turning into science fact!
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1987 - 2019
Working for the transgender community for the past