There are many myths regarding the possible causes of baldness and its relationship with one’s virility, intelligence, ethnicity, job, social class, wealth etc. While skepticism is warranted due to lack of scientific validation, some of these myths may have a degree of underlying truth.
“You inherit baldness from your mother’s father.”
Previously, early baldness of the androgenic type was thought to be sex linked dominant in males and to be sex linked recessive in females.
Research suggests that the gene for the androgen receptor, which is significant in determining probability for hair loss, is located on the X chromosome and so is always inherited from the mother’s side. There is a 50% chance that a person shares the same X chromosome as his maternal grandfather. Because women have two X chromosomes, they will have two copies of the androgen receptor gene while men only have one. However, research has also shown that a person with a balding father also has a significantly greater chance of experiencing hair loss.
“Intellectual activity or psychological problems can cause baldness.”
This notion may be because cholesterol is involved in the process of neurogenesis and also the base material from which the body ultimately manufactures DHT. While the notion that bald men are more intelligent may lack credibility in the modern world, in the ancient world if a person was bald it was likely that he had an adequate amount of fat in his diet. Thus, his mental development was probably not stunted by malnutrition during his crucial formative years, he was more likely to be wealthy, and also have had access to a formal education. However, a sedentary lifestyle is less likely to correlate with intelligence in the modern world, and dietary fat content is not linked to economic class in modern developed countries. Another possibility is that, for some people, social standing accrued through intelligence can in mating compensate for physical attractiveness lowered by hair loss and therefore produce male offspring who are prone to both high intellect and hair loss. However, by way of better socioeconomic standing and in turn more access to hair loss treatments, an association between intelligence and actual hair loss is less likely in recent times. Of course, aside from all these scientific reasons, baldness could be linked to intellect or wisdom simply because people go bald as they age and become more experienced and less intelligent people tend to die younger.
Total testosterone exhibits a positive relation to tactual-spatial abilities and to the degree of lateralization. Total testosterone is negatively correlated with verbal fluency. Testosterone in the saliva is also significantly positively correlated to tactual-spatial test scores and, in addition, to field independence. DHT and the ratio DHT/total testosterone are positively related to verbal fluency and negatively to the degree of lateralization of tactual-spatial performance.
“Baldness can be caused by emotional stress, sexual frustration etc.”
Emotional stress has been shown to accelerate baldness in genetically susceptible individuals.
Stress due to sleep deprivation in military recruits lowered testosterone levels, but is not noted to have affected SHBG. Thus, stress due to sleep deprivation in fit males is unlikely to elevate DHT, which causes male pattern baldness. Whether it can cause hair loss by some other mechanism is not clear.
“Bald men are more ‘virile’ or sexually active than others.”
Levels of free testosterone are strongly linked to libido and also DHT levels, but unless free testosterone is virtually non-existent levels have not been shown to affect virility. Men with androgenic alopecia are more likely to have a higher baseline of free androgens. However, sexual activity is multifactoral, and androgenic profile is also not the only determining factor in baldness. Additionally, because hair loss is progressive and free testosterone declines with age, a person’s hairline may be more indicative of their past than present disposition.
“Frequent ejaculation causes baldness”
There are many misconceptions about what can help prevent hairloss, one of these being that frequent ejaculation may have an influence on MPB. Depending on frequency, it can raise or lower plasma testosterone.
“Standing on one’s head alleviates baldness”
“Tight hats cause baldness.”
While this may be a myth, hats do cause hair breakage and, to a lesser degree, split ends. Since hats are not washed as frequently as other clothing, they can also lead to scalp uncleanliness and possible Pityrosporum ovale contamination in men with naturally oily scalps. Some scalp infections, if left untreated, can cause hair loss.