Most cases of hair loss are inherited and hormonal. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes hair follicles to shrink gradually over time, eventually losing the ability to grow hair. A logical approach to treatment is blocking DHT production in the body. In this article, I give you the essential information on an FDA approved a drug called finasteride (Propecia), which reduces DHT levels, but can have some serious side effects.
What is It and How is it Available?
Finasteride started out as a treatment for benign prostate enlargement, in tablet form under the brand name Proscar. After several years of use, it became obvious that a common side effect was to improve hair growth. In 1998 it was approved by the FDA as a prescription-only hair loss treatment for men under the name Propecia.
It’s important to note that finasteride is not recommended for women because of its potential to cause birth defects in a male fetus. It is sometimes prescribed for a woman, but the situation would have to rule out the possibility of a pregnancy.
How Does It Work?
Finasteride interferes with the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which happens in many tissues of the body including the scalp. The effect of DHT on the scalp is to shrink the hair follicles- a progressive effect which takes many years. The follicles become less and less active, producing finer and weaker hairs until, eventually, they shed their last hairs and cease to function at all.
Cutting DHT production will halt or delay this process, and restore hair growth. As with any medication/treatment for any condition, it doesn’t work for everyone, but it is very effective in many men.
But What About the Side Effects?
This is a very important question. DHT is a male hormone, derived from testosterone. Men have much higher levels of DHT than women, and it’s part of the male hormone system which is responsible for sexual characteristics and function. It also plays a part in mood regulation and sleeps.
The pharmaceutical industry tends to gloss over this, making statements which suggest that DHT is a marginal part of the male hormone system. However, there are many people, including doctors, who would disagree.
Men taking finasteride can experience side effects like loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count and gynecomastia (man-boobs). Depression, sleep disturbances, and other mental symptoms can also happen. It is commonly said that these hormonal side effects disappear on stopping finasteride, and, yes- they usually do. But in a small proportion of men, even taking finasteride for as little as a week can have prolonged, apparently permanent effects on mood, sleep, and sexual function- including fertility.
How Do You Know if You Would Have These Side Effects?
The problem is- you can’t know before taking it. Taking Generic Propecia Finasteride is a serious decision, which should not be taken lightly. Do your research and take all your circumstances into consideration.
Have You Had These Side Effects from Finasteride?
You can find information and advice at a site called PropeciaHelp.com which was set up in 2003 by doctors and sufferers. This website also gives links to other similar groups throughout the world.