Testosterone is the hormone responsible for the development of male characteristics, which includes increased body and facial hair. Some men may struggle to grow a beard because of genetics, but for others, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may be the best way to turn a few scruffy hairs into a full beard.
The Role of Testosterone
As the primary male sex hormone, testosterone can impact nearly every area of the body’s development. This includes physical characteristics such as muscle mass and bone density, as well as mental and emotional development such as memory and mood. It is also the hormone that has the greatest impact on hair growth.
It is during puberty that testosterone generally starts to impact the growth of facial and body hair, but it can often be a slow beginning. A few tufts of hair may appear on the upper lip and chin long before they can be called a moustache and beard. For some men, their full beard will finally come during their late teens or early twenties, but others may always struggle to achieve more than those few tufts.
Hair growth comes in three stages: anagen, catagen and telogen. It is the anagen stage during which the hair is actually growing and your testosterone levels need to be high. Catagen is when the growth slows again whilst telogen is when hair might die or fall out before it starts growing again.
Of particular importance to the growth of facial hair is a more potent testosterone by-product called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Testosterone prepares the hair follicles for growth, but it is DHT, activated by the enzymes in the oil gland of your hair follicles, that is responsible for linear hair growth.
Men with high DHT levels and/or a greater sensitivity to DHT will grow beards at a younger age than others. Some men are less sensitive to DHT and, therefore, will not grow a full beard even with high DHT levels, but others may be suffering because their DHT levels are too low.
DHT does have another role other than in beard growth, but it appears contradictory. The hormone that helps men to grow a full beard can also build up in the hair follicles and speed up the thinning of the hair, which in turn can lead to male pattern baldness. That is why large and impressive beards can often be found on men who are completely bald.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Most men will see their testosterone levels naturally drop as they age and experience relatively few problems, but for some men, their low levels of testosterone can be damaging. If you are experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone, particularly if you are a younger man, you may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy. As well as tiredness, reduced muscle mass and mood swings, these symptoms may include trouble with your facial hair.
TRT can be delivered as an injection, tablet, patch, gel or implant and should help to bring your testosterone back to healthy levels (there is some debate over its usefulness if your testosterone levels are not clinically low). This should lead to an improvement in all of your symptoms, including seeing the growth of a full beard.