All the Finasteride Questions That You Were Afraid to Ask (Your Doctor)

Male pattern hair loss is associated with high levels of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
Male pattern hair loss is associated with high levels of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
Finasteride, the generic name for the active ingredient in the hair loss drug Propecia, has been used by thousands of men to address male pattern baldness. Finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. The substance 5-alpha reductase is responsible for converting ordinary testosterone into dihydrotestosteron (DHT), and it is high levels of DHT that are associated with male pattern hair loss. By inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, finasteride can lower DHT levels.

Men who are interested in taking this drug naturally have questions about it. Here are the most common questions about finasteride, plus straight answers.

Q. Does it matter when I start taking finasteride?

A. The earlier in the balding process a man starts taking finasteride, the better the results, according to a five year clinical study. This controlled study of male pattern hair loss showed that men who were treated for one year with a placebo before switching to Propecia did not catch up to the men who started taking Propecia from the start of the study in terms of results.

Q. How well has finasteride been shown to work? Show me the stats.

A. In one study, during the first year of taking Propecia, 584 out of 679, or 86%, of men maintained hair density or had an increase in the number of visible hairs. Only 282 out of 672 (42%) men treated with a placebo maintained hair density over a year. In a five year study of Propecia, 90% of men had visible regrowth or no further hair loss, versus 25% of men who took a placebo. Hair density was assessed by photographs evaluated by an independent panel of dermatologists. As measured by hair count, two-thirds of men who took Propecia re-grew hair, compared to none of the men who were not taking Propecia.

A majority of men taking Propecia self-reported that hair loss slowed down, their bald spot decreased in size, and the appearance of their hair improved. At the end of the study, there was an average difference of 277 hairs in a one-inch diameter test spot on the head between men who took Propecia and those who took a placebo. The maximum increase in hair count generally occurred during the first two years of taking Propecia. Bottom line: you have about a two out of three probability of re-growing hair if you take Propecia as directed.

Q. I have heard about side effects of finasteride that frankly scare me. How common are these side effects?

A. You may have heard about men having a lower sex drive or erection problems while taking Propecia. In clinical studies, such side effects occurred in less than 2% of men. Side effects having to do with libido and erection problems are uncommon, and in most cases, the men who experienced them reported that the side effects went away when they stopped taking Propecia.

Sexual side effects were rare in men taking Propecia in clinical studies.
Sexual side effects were rare in men taking Propecia in clinical studies.

Three controlled, one-year clinical trials with Propecia showed that 1.4% of men who took the drug discontinued using it due to side effects that were believed to be caused by the drug. However, 1.6% of men who took a placebo discontinued use due to adverse experiences. If you start taking finasteride, chances are you will not experience sexual side effects.

Q. How long do I need to take finasteride to know if it will work for me?

A. Some men see a decrease in hair loss in only 90 days or so. However, many men do not notice a change until after taking finasteride as directed for six months or more. Doctors usually recommend that you take finasteride for at least six months, and preferably 12 months, before making a conclusion as to whether it works for you. If you’re taking finasteride and then stop, you will probably lose any hair you gained from taking the drug within one year.

Q. Can finasteride help me grow real hair, or just “fuzz?”

A. Finasteride has been shown to grow real hair rather than “peach fuzz.” At the end of a four-year study, researchers noted an increase in the weight of hair samples taken from men who were taking Propecia compared to hair samples taken from men taking a placebo. Men in this study ranged in age from 18 to 41, and all had mild to moderate hair loss on the top and middle front of head. Propecia works best on these areas, and works less well on hairlines receding at the temples. However, there are topical treatments (minoxidil) that can help with hair receding at the temples.

If you are interested in taking Propecia, compare costs and include online medical facilitators in your comparison. eDrugstore.com sells genuine finasteride and works with USA-licensed pharmacists and physicians to dispense the medication to men for whom it is appropriate. eDrugstore.com has competitive prices, superior customer service, an unwavering commitment to customer privacy, and convenience that is unbeatable.

Photo Credits: imagerymajestic / freedigitalphotos.net, Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net

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