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lefteh's avatar

Why do older men tend to have less leg hair?

Asked by lefteh (9324 points ) July 28th, 2008

This is something I’ve just noticed recently. Does leg hair sometimes fall out or stop growing in old age? Do elderly men have a secret habit of shaving their legs? What’s going on here?

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24 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Lefteh; sadly it is not just older men. Or happily, I should say. I shave my legs far less frequently than I used to. (And hair in other spots disappear, almost). I guess that the hair follicles just get tired.

Why does older hair turn white?———> grim reaper.

Luckily our family has strong head hair genes.

marinelife's avatar

It may not always. My husband has gotten hairier in the 25 years we have been married.

lefteh's avatar

Yeah, I figured that it wasn’t always the case. There are very few (no?) absolutes in medicine.

janbb's avatar

My husband noticed the hair on his legs leaving about 15 years ago (in his 40s.) I assume it’s due to a lessening of testosterone. Some of it may have migrated to me!

marinelife's avatar

Here, ironically, is what women’s health says:

“Men go through aging male syndrome (AMS) between the ages of 35 and 65 when their hormone levels (especially testosterone) decline. Testosterone is a hormone that helps maintain sex drive, sperm production, pubic and body hair, muscle, and bone.”

BTW, nice to see you back among the threads, lefteh.

marinelife's avatar

I do have a theory that the hair leaves their legs so it can grow longer on their eyebrows, out of their ears, and from their noses. . .

gailcalled's avatar

Marina: good catch.

lefteh's avatar

Ahhh, so it’s the testosterone decline.
Thanks Marina!
And thanks for the welcome back. I was on an itty bitty island on a remote lake in Canada for a week.

gailcalled's avatar

leftah; .Eating freshly-caught wild salmon and blackberries, I hope?

lefteh's avatar

Close.. perch, walleye, and blackberries.

Harp's avatar

I’d just like to add a refinement to what Marina said-
It’s not the lower level of testosterone per se that causes the hair loss. Testosterone is broken down by an enzyme, 5-alpha reductase, to form dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is an excess of DHT that actually causes the hair loss, not the deficiency of testosterone.

Progesterone acts as an inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase, but older men experience a reduction in progesterone levels. This in turn cause increased 5-alpha reductase activity, which causes in increase in DHT, which shuts down follicles. Whew!

lefteh's avatar

Wow. Well said, Harp.
It makes perfect sense now.

gailcalled's avatar

@Harp; well said. I understood nothing except “follicles.”

marinelife's avatar

harp plucks the perfect string again!

lefteh's avatar

I just replaced the big words with the names from the Traveling Wilburys and I understood.

augustlan's avatar

It all migrates to their backs

demogear's avatar

I think leg hair falls off because of the constant use of pants. With time they stop fom growing again. I don’t know of someone who hasn’t used pants all their lives to prove my theory but I prefer to live with that doubt forever he he.

brianinmn's avatar

This can also be caused by poor circulation (hardening of the arteries). It’s especially noticable with diabetics. Hair loss starts at the feet and works up to the knees.

gooch's avatar

I agree brianinmn it is a circulation issue. Poor circulation in the legs equates to lack of nutrients going to the follicle on the skin in the legs. Harps issue is scalp hair related not leg hair issues they are different.

jvgr's avatar

In my research, the link between testosterone/hair is opposite of the above. Excess testosterone triggers a reaction that increases 5a-reductase, known to be a factor in common male hair loss. Current product developent combatting this early onset hairloss (not my interest) is in the use of 5a-reductase inhibitors.

gooch's avatar

@ jvgr would that not only apply to the head?

jvgr's avatar

gooch: ”@ jvgr would that not only apply to the head?”
The research relates to head hair but probably because most concern about hair loss is head hair. But the mechanism is the same.

oldjarhd's avatar

Well… I’ve read all your input. My formerly hairy lower legs are now practically hairless. Started losing that thick glorious leg hair about a year ago. Not due to socks. Live in Florida and wear only shower shoes or athletic socks that stop at the top of the shoe. Don’t wear long pants (the Florida thing). Not losing circulation in my legs – at age 75 I still play golf regularly, work hard in my yard, and roller blade. My forearms are still hairy. So what’s up with the lower leg hair loss? It’s getting embarrassing.

studio4moms's avatar

I suggest you have your hormone levels checked and your blood sugar. If that doesn’t show anything consider going to a naturopath and have him/her check you out. The tests are different and arguably more telling.

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