Sold in the market under the brand names Propecia and Proscar, finasteride is a medication that is intended to treat people who are suffering from hair loss. In the early days, finasteride was just like other medications that were originally used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer. It turns out that patients who took finasteride for their prostate-related issues had experienced great results with it, along with a surprising bonus, and that is, the growth of hair.
Finasteride actually works by means of inhibiting or stopping type II 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme responsible for converting the hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT, in turn, is the one responsible for losing one’s hair, resulting to baldness if not remedied. Thus, simply put, the action of finasteride is to prevent the conversion of testosterone into DHT, and the end result would be the prevention of hair loss. This “favorable side effect” of preventing hair loss and promoting growth of new hair by finasteride is what made it famous in the pharmaceutical world, not by its primary use which is for treating benign prostatic hypertrophy and other prostate-related ailments.
In the year 1997, the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved finasteride for the treatment of male-pattern baldness or hair loss. The company Merck sells it under the brand name of Propecia.
The Efficiency of Finasteride
A 5-year clinical study was conducted on male participants who were suffering from hair loss. About 48% of those who were given a milligram of the medication and have experienced regrowth of new hair, and more than 42% had experienced no further hair loss issues. Overall, within the span of the 5-year study, the average hair count in the group who received finasteride have stayed above the baseline rate and they all have a significantly high difference in hair count as compared to the placebo group.
Keep in mind that finasteride is effective only for as long as it is being taken. The hair that you maintain or gain is unfortunately going to be lost in a span of 6 to 12 months when you stop taking finasteride. In the clinical studies, finasteride was proven to work on both the hairline and the crown area, but it is most obviously successful in growing and maintaining hair along the crown area.
Potential Side Effects of Finasteride
Finasteride, like any other medication out there, has some potential side effects. Thus, it is best that you first consult with your doctor before trying out finasteride for your hair loss issues. Side effects typically vary from person to person, so it is recommended that you talk to your doctor about it and only he can determine if finasteride is okay for you to try. Side effects on the use of finasteride may include getting dizzy, headaches, tiredness, etc.
Other Risk Factor of Finasteride
It has been reported by the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of UK and the Swedish Medical Products Agency that the prolonged intake of finasteride can potentially result to erectile dysfunction problems and this can still persist even if the treatment has been stopped for some time. These cases do happen, but they occur very rarely. That is why it is crucial that you first consult with your doctor before taking finasteride so that he will be able to help you throughout your treatment and help you achieve your goal of growing and maintaining your hair.