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Are bald men more virile than their well thatched contemporaries?


The suggestion that bald men are more virile than their well-thatched contemporaries is probably an old wives’ tale, but it must be conceded that old wives are likely to be unusually authoritative in this matter.1

John Burton and colleagues were the first to examine the contentious view that an association exists between virility and baldness in 1979. Notably Burton himself was balding at this time. However, the hypothesis has never been directly tested. In Burton et al’s study of 48 men aged 35–64 years, surrogate markers of “masculinity” such as hair density on the trunk and limbs, serum testosterone levels, sebum secretion rate, sweat secretion rate, skin thickness, muscle thickness and bone thickness showed no relationship to baldness.1 Virility per se was not assessed. Factors suggestive of a possible association include the lack of balding among eunuchs2 and pseudohermaphrodites,3 indicating that testosterone and its biologically active metabolite dihydrotestosterone are prerequisites for common baldness.4 Furthermore, the principal side effect of treatment of male pattern baldness with finasteride (a…