Get essential information about finasteride.
What Is Finasteride?
Finasteride (also known as Propecia) is a well-established hair loss treatment. There are numerous studies that show finasteride can halt hair loss and regrow hair in a majority of men with male pattern baldness.
However, there’s some pretty hefty side effects that could occur, which is why it should only be prescribed by a Dr.
A 1mg Finasteride tablet is taken daily to treat hair loss. The medication only works while it is being used. If you stop using Finasteride, your hair loss will resume.
What Does Finasteride Do?
Male pattern baldness is thought to occur due to the actions of a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT shrinks hair follicles causing thinning hair and eventually baldness.
Finasteride works by inhibiting an enzyme called type 2 5α-reductase. This enzyme coverts testosterone into DHT.
Regular use of finasteride results in lower levels of circulating DHT, causing hair loss to slow or stop. It often takes several months of usage before a reduction in hair loss can be seen.
There’s a wealth of studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of finasteride. Here’s some key findings:
- 2561 Japanese men were given finasteride 1 mg daily for 3 years. Their hair status was then evaluated by photographic assessment. Hair growth was seen in 87.1% of the men. Hair increase was rated as great (11.1%), moderate (36.5%) and slight (39.5%).(1)
- 424 men aged 41 to 60 years were studied for two years while taking finasteride 1mg. Photographs, self assessment, and clinical assessment were used to investigate hair regrowth. Significant improvements were seen for men in the finasteride group vs men taking a placebo supplement. Generally improvements started from around 6 months after therapy began.(2)
- 50 men took 1mg Finasteride daily for a period of 2 years. Photographs were taken at the start and at end of treatment to assess effectiveness. 68% of patients had a visual improvement at both the back and front areas of the scalp.(3)
Interestingly, scientists performed a review of several studies and found that the combination of finasteride and minoxidil outperformed using finasteride on its own.(5)
Weight Of Science
Finasteride was first approved for hair loss in 1997. It is one of the most investigated treatments for male pattern baldness.
This has allowed researchers to thoroughly assess its positive and negative effects on the human body.
While Finasteride has a beneficial impact on hair loss for many men, the side effects can be considerable.
Depression and, occasionally, suicidal thoughts have been reported in people taking Finasteride. There is also some limited evidence this may continue after stopping the medication.(4)
Sexual side effects have occurred in men who have used Finasteride.
Infertility has been reported in long-term users who may have also had other risk factors that made infertility more likely.
Persistent decreases in sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and problems ejaculating have been noted during and after finasteride treatment.
Although rare, cases of breast cancer have been found in men taking Finasteride.(5)
As such, Finasteride medication prescribed in the UK now contains the following warning on the Patient Information Leaflet:
“Breast cancer has been reported in men taking finasteride 1 mg during clinical trials and in the post-marketing period. Physicians should instruct their patients to promptly report any changes in their breast tissue such as lumps, pain, gynaecomastia or nipple discharge.”
Post Finasteride Syndrome
Post-Finasteride Syndrome is the term for serious side effects that continue after finasteride treatment. The reported side effects include persistent sexual and mental issues.
Evidence for Post-Finasteride Syndrome are mostly anecdotal – for example men reporting their ongoing problems on internet sites. However, the subject is now being investigated by an increasing number of clinical researchers.
Some scientists are convinced Post-Finasteride Syndrome is a real and concerning issue.
What Does It Cost?
DO NOT BUY FINASTERIDE WITHOUT SEEING A DR!
In most countries, Finasteride is available on private prescription. This means that you will have to be assessed by a medical professional before being given a prescription.
Due to the way Finasteride interacts with the body, it is vital have an assessment first. While it may be tempting to order from rogue websites it’s not a good idea. By going down the official route, you are putting your health first and can be monitored if any issues occur.
A reputable online pharmacy will always insist on a legally valid prescription before dispensing the medicine.
Once you have been given a private prescription, you will need to pay for Finasteride for the duration of your treatment. Expect to pay around $15/£15 per month if you order from an online pharmacy.
Are There Alternatives To Finasteride With Less Side Effects?
Finasteride can regrow hair because it blocks the production of DHT. However, manipulating DHT levels may cause problems elsewhere in the body, resulting in side effects.
It’s possible to replace Finasteride with another DHT blocker, but as they all act in the same way then side effects may again be a problem.
Saw Palmetto is a natural alternative to Finasteride with a proven beneficial impact on hair loss. It is also reported to have less side effects. However, research is more limited and Finasteride does tend to outperform saw palmetto in terms of hair growth.
Using Finasteride topically is becoming more popular and several studies have shown it to be effective. By using Finasteride directly on the scalp, less should be absorbed elsewhere in the body. Hopefully this reduces the likelihood of serious side effects.
For people wanting to avoid messing with their hormones, it’s better to seek an alternative that is not a DHT blocker. Our full list of science based treatments can be found here.