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Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

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With the help of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, testosterone converts to DHT. DHT is an androgen, a steroid hormone that plays a role in sexual development, function and health. In adults DHT is the primary androgen in the prostate in men and in the hair follicles in men and women.

The DHT that binds to receptors in scalp follicles is the main culprit in male pattern baldness and plays a small role in female hair loss. DHT shrinks hair follicles and kills healthy hair. Increased levels of DHT can also cause women to develop androgynous male characteristics, such as a deeper voice and increased facial hair. Men who have increased levels of DHT may suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) or prostate cancer. Decreased levels of DHT may lead to sexual dysfunction in men.

The DHT blood test measures levels of DHT to help individuals monitor their levels and keep them in the normal range for optimal health and to prevent hair loss. Individuals who have normal DHT levels but still experience hair loss or prostate problems should follow-up with other hormone testing. Because hormones must be balanced to work optimally, the problem may not be increased DHT, but rather a decrease in estrogen, for example.

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