Male Pattern Hair Loss (MPHL)

How to Figure Out if You'll Go Bald

There's a common notion that, for men, if you want to figure out whether you'll go bald, you can just look at your mother's father.

If he was bald, the thinking goes, you'll be bald too. If he wasn't, you're safe.

As it turns out, genetic research tells us that the full picture is somewhat more complicated — but this idea isn't too far off.

Male pattern baldness does appear to be mostly determined by genes. And if you're a man, some of the main genes that determine your hair loss over time do tend to come from your maternal grandfather (mothers dad) — although other genes from all of your parents and grandparents also play a role.


  • 95% of men’s hair loss is genetic.
  • 80% of male pattern baldness is determined by genes.

Of course, very few physical traits are determined by a single gene, and baldness is no exception. Over the past few decades, researchers have uncovered a number of different genes that appear to be involved.

The single gene most strongly associated with baldness is on the X chromosome (from your mother).

Now, research has shown that not all of the baldness-related genes are on the X chromosome — there are 11 other genetic sequences of varying importance identified so far. You inherited these chromosomes from both your mother (X) and father (Y), who inherited them from their mothers and fathers.

All these genes interact in complex ways that we don't yet totally understand to increase or decrease the chance of male pattern baldness. So simply having the baldness genes on one's X chromosome is no guarantee of going bald, and not having them isn't a sign you're safe either.

So you can get a rough idea of your chance of baldness by just looking at both your maternal grandfather and your father's scalps.

Basically, one bald guy = BAD. Two bald guys = WORSE.


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