Dihydrotestosterone: what it is and associated health problems

Dihydrotestosterone plays a very important role in the development of male sexual characteristics. However, it is also associated with problems such as alopecia in men and some diseases of the prostate.

Last update: 08 September, 2021

Dihydrotestosterone is an androgen; that is, a male hormone. It has a great incidence during the development of sexual characteristics in the embryo. It is also associated with sexual development, libido, muscle mass, and other aspects.

Dihydrotestosterone is a compound that has its origin in testosterone, which is the male hormone par excellence. 5% of testosterone ends up becoming dihydrotestosterone. This androgen also influences hair loss and prostate health.

What is dihydrotestosterone?

Dihydrotestosterone is a male sex hormone that can affect, for example, the health of the prostate.

Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is a male sex hormone; that is, an androgen. All hormones of this type affect the development of male sexual characteristics. They are also known as androgen hormones.

Dihydrotestosterone is the result of a process in which there is a conversion of testosterone. This is carried out by the action of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.. Such a process takes place in the prostate, testes, and adrenal glands.

It is estimated that dihydrotestosterone is about three times more potent than testosterone. Among its properties, is to influence the growth of the prostate, the hair implantation of the scalp and the increase in facial and body hair.

Importance of dihydrotestosterone in sexual development

Dihydrotestosterone plays an important role during the development of an embryo. It directly affects the formation of the male external genitalia. If something is wrong with this hormone, ambiguous sex can occur.

During puberty, dihydrotestosterone plays an important role in the development of sexual characteristics since it contributes to the development of the genitals and the growth of pubic hair and body. It also makes the prostate grow.

Along with testosterone, this hormone influences the expression of sexual preferences and behaviors. It is considered the main androgen when it comes to the prostate and hair follicles.

Girls also have dihydrotestosterone, but the role of this hormone in the female body is not yet fully understood. Apparently, it affects the appearance of pubic hair and determines the onset of puberty.

Diseases associated with dihydrotestosterone

Both men and women can have problems associated with high or low levels of dihydrotestosterone. However, in both genders these can be mild in some cases and noticeable in others. Let's look at this in more detail.

Sexual development

High levels of dihydrotestosterone in men do not produce appreciable effects. In the case of women, when this occurs there may be excess facial and body hair and deepening of the voice. There may also be problems with menstruation.

If hormone levels are low, women do not have significant effects. On the other hand, in men it does have an impact. If you are in puberty, you may not develop body and facial hair, or your genitals may not fully develop.


Excess dihydrotestosterone in the hair follicles can cause alopecia in men.

In men, dihydrotestosterone is the main factor for the appearance of androgenetic alopecia. In women it can also affect hair loss, but it is only one of the factors that come into play.

This hormone is present in the hair follicles. When its level is very high, it causes alopecia of hormonal and genetic origin. Dihydrotestosterone clings to hair follicles and causes them to shrink, which leads to baldness.

Said in a more graphic way, what dihydrotestosterone does is suffocate the follicle. The immediate effect is the loss of vitality, strength and color in the hair. When the process progresses, hair loss occurs. This process is known as "miniaturization."

Prostate problems

Dihydrotestosterone can also affect the prostate, as it is present in this organ. The high level of this hormone has been associated with the development and exacerbation of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

However, there is no evidence that this androgen is the origin of the enlarged prostate. That is aggravates that condition, but does not generate it.


In both men and women dihydrotestosterone is believed to contribute to the development of acne, as well as in the development of the musculature, in the human behavior of aggressiveness and libido, and in the insulin sensitivity and the vascular tone. High or low levels of the hormone can contribute to health problems in these areas.

Medical consultation is recommended

There are several products to treat alopecia that are made from inhibitors of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase.. Remember that this enzyme is the one that promotes the processes that transform part of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.

However, it has been found that such products can become the cause of problems such as erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction, loss of libido, depression, and gynecomastia or breast enlargement in men. Caution should be exercised in its use.