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Finasteride (Propecia) for Hair Loss

According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of males have hair loss by age 35. By age 50, 85% of males have lost some hair. These statistics can be depressing, but there is good news. It’s never too late to start reversing this process.

One option is finasteride. This potent medication has changed the lives of many people. Known more commonly as Propecia, this medication can be your first step in beating the odds.

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The Development of Propecia

Finasteride originated in the 1980s. In 1992, it received clearance for medical usage. By 1997, Merck got approval to market finasteride for male pattern baldness. The new drug was named Propecia. Since that time, it has gained a strong foothold in the market. More than 8.9 million people in the United States maintain prescriptions for finasteride.

Interestingly, finasteride originally targeted prostate issues. In this form, finasteride takes the name Proscar. However, because finasteride impacts hormone levels, individuals can also use it for hair loss. In fact, in one study, people who took Propecia ended up with more hair than those who took placebos. Propecia targets the cells that grow new hair to promote this type of change. This change is possible by blocking the transformation of testosterone into DHT. DHT connects with ongoing hair loss in men.

While individual results will vary with finasteride, the data is still overwhelmingly positive. Nearly 80% of people who take Propecia will see improvement in their condition. At least 66% saw visible new hair growth. For some people, Propecia will slow down the process of hair loss and minimize the appearance of thinning hair. However, other people see robust growth. The results are usually most dramatic in men with mild or moderate hair loss. It is less effective for completely bald men.

In general, you should take one pill of Propecia daily. It may be several months before you start to see results. You must sustain your medication regimen if you want to maintain any progress with Propecia. If you stop taking Propecia, you may lose your progress.

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Finasteride: How Does It Work?

The effect of finasteride can connect with its impact on DHT. DHT is a sex hormone that forms from the body’s supply of testosterone. When your DHT levels are not correctly balanced, this imbalance can start to affect your hair follicles. Specifically, the hair follicles begin to shrink. As a result, hair grows less. Moreover, the strands that grow are weaker and more likely to break.

If your hair loss connects with your hormone levels, then a product like finasteride can help. In its current formulation, finasteride is most effective at targeting hair loss on the crown or top of the head. The medication blocks a specific enzyme to achieve this effect. By blocking this enzyme, finasteride can control your DHT levels. In this way, finasteride stops hair loss at its source. Many men see the progression of their hair loss slow, and some will even see new hair start to grow.

Finasteride has been available for decades. So far, the research is promising, and the literature supports the use of finasteride as a hair loss treatment. Results are usually visible within six months. Within a year, most men will have more hair than before. However, results may vary. If you do not see the results you desire with finasteride, be sure to talk to your doctor.

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Women’s Hair Loss and Finasteride

Women are in a problematic situation regarding drug treatments…..

Side Effects of Finasteride

As with any medication, there are some possible side effects of…..

Women’s Hair Loss and Finasteride

Women are in a problematic situation regarding drug treatments for androgenetic alopecia. Most treatments target men, with limited evidence on effects on women. As a result, many doctors are hesitant to prescribe standard hair loss medications to women.

Despite this lack of research, preliminary evidence still exists for certain treatments. In particular, finasteride has potential as an option for hair loss for women. Although the FDA does not currently approve finasteride for women, the potential is still there for women who are suffering.

A recent finasteride study offers some information. In the study, women with hair loss used finasteride each day. During the study, 30% showed at least some improvement. However, more impressively, 65% saw significant improvement in their condition. These results offer the type of hope women need as they grapple with hair loss.

Despite these positive results, it is appropriate to use caution. The FDA still needs to approve finasteride for women. Moreover, it is not a good choice for all women. Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not use finasteride due to its link with birth defects. The study cited previously was conducted in older women who were not likely to become pregnant. As always, talk to your doctor before starting on a medication regimen.

Side Effects of Finasteride

As with any medication, there are some possible side effects of finasteride. However, it is essential to be aware of the risks to make the best decisions for your health.

Most notably, the FDA has warned people that taking finasteride could cause sexual side effects. Some sexual side effects may persist even after discontinuing usage. Some men have noted that their sex drive has diminished with finasteride use. The FDA made these claims public in 2012, citing reports from 100 men in the past 20 years.

While it is essential to take these reports seriously, we should note that no proof exists that finasteride causes these side effects. These reports could connect with other conditions or medications.

In an overwhelming sense, finasteride is generally very safe. Side effects result in less than 6% of patients. However, some risk factors can increase your likelihood of side effects. You may be more prone to side effects because of your age, ethnicity, or chronic illnesses.

Other common side effects can include the following:

  • Chills or cold sweats
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Hives or welts
  • Inflammation of the lips and face
  • Itching
  • Skin rashes
  • Skin that is flushed
  • Swelling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • Tenderness and enlargement of the breasts
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Weight gain

If you are taking finasteride and notice any of these side effects, please consult with your doctor right away.

If you want to learn more about finasteride and determine whether it is a good option for you, talk to the Hair Transplant Specialists – New York City (NYC) team. We are close to the Empire State Building and Penn Station, and we are proud to serve all of New York City and its surrounding communities. Contact us today to get started.

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