Finasteride and hair loss: side effects & results
By Prof. Dr. Soner Tatlidede 2019-07-19
Finasteride helps combating hair loss and is one of the FDA approved treatments for this purpose. But, what is finasteride? It´s a prescription medication, sold in 1 mg dose -as finasteride tablets taken orally- in many countries, like the United States. It´s also used as a complementary treatment against hair loss, for example after getting a FUE hair transplant in Turkey.
How long does finasteride take to work?
It was noticed that finasteride helps with hair regrowth in 50% of men after using it regularly for one year, and in 66% of men after using it regularly for two years. In general, it was noticed that more than 85% of men who use finasteride (or Propecia, its brand name) on regular basis stop having hair loss problem during treatment, and the remaining hair is protected from falling.
The most common side effect of finasteride involves decreased sexual drive or low sperm counts in less than 2% of men who use this medication. However, during clinical trials done on finasteride, the same complaints were recorded in people given placebo (water) instead of medication.
Finasteride results and properties
- Treatment type: 5-alpha reductase inhibitor (preventive).
- Availability: A prescription medicine, sold to men over 18 years old in countries like the United States.
- Clinical results: Using finasteride regularly for one year in 48% of the studied cases, and for two years in 66% of studied cases, showed hair regrowth ranging between thick and thin. By the end of the first year and the second year, 7% of the studied cases that were given placebo (water) instead of finasteride had hair regrowth during this trial.
- Noted results: Noted results support the results obtained from clinical trials. Better results may be obtained when finasteride treatment is combined with minoxidil treatment -2% or 5%- at the same time.
- Side effects: Reduced sexual drive, and reduced sperm count in 2% of medicine users.
Why is finasteride used?
The main purpose of using finasteride is preventing more hair loss and protecting the remaining hair. It has also shown an increase in hair count in more than 60% of the studied cases.However, only 42% of them had a significant improvement.
Finasteride is generally used by younger men trying to stop hair loss, and it is effective for this purpose. It is also commonly used by men suffering from excessive hair loss as a part of supplementary treatment with minoxidil 2% or 5%.
Finasteride: how it works?
Testosterone available in the blood vessels of normal male adults is usually associated with 5-alpha reductase. This interaction produces a stronger male hormone known as dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone plays a main role in the healthy development of genital organs during the embryonic stage and the secondary masculinities during puberty.
When a man starts losing his hair, dihydrotestosterone receptors start developing in many hair follicles, which are (genetically) programmed. Of course, this does not happen in all men; it only happens in people who have genetic predisposition, having male pattern hair loss in the family. Male pattern baldness, known as androgenic alopecia, is passed down through genes coming from the mother's side.
Dihydrotestosterone binds to its receptors that are formed in many hair follicles, by considering them foreign bodies in the human body. This chemical change does not only affect hair, but also causes itching and redness. Hair starts deteriorating under the attack of dihydrotestosterone, resulting in unhealthy hair in a matter of years.
Thus, taking finasteride prevents dihydrotestosterone formation, and in a matter of a few months, the harmful effects of dihydrotestosterone on hair follicles stop by limiting its levels in the blood.
What is the finasteride dosage?
Finasteride is available in 1 mg dose as a popular product under the brand name Propecia. The larger dose of finasteride is 5 mg: it causes systemic inhibition of dihydrotestosterone, and it is used for prostate enlargement treatment under the brand name Proscar.
Finasteride side effects
The best part of this treatment is that, after using it for one month to know how is it going to be tolerated, you can stop using it without causing harm to yourself if you noticed any problem.
People who have side effects should also know that such side effects might appear in the beginning of treatment, when your body is still adapting with the medication, and they usually disappear after a few months. It is very important for people with liver problems to consult their doctor before starting using finasteride, because it´s metabolized in the liver.
Proper use of finasteride
Finasteride should be taken as tablets, and the daily dose is 1 mg without exception. Many people don´t control their dosage, and sometimes a day may pass without taking the specified dose, or they might take two dosages a day and so on.
However, you should know that using the medicine this way does not do any good to your hair, but causes harm to your body. Finasteride is a medicine that affects hormones directly. Hormones are highly sensitive chemicals working together; therefore, a regular daily dose forms a stable hormonal balance, and insures keeping your body in a good balance.
In summary, despite having some side effects, finasteride can be a good ally in combating your alopecia problems; however, despite the fact that finasteride can stop hair loss and contributes to hair regrowth in many cases, good results can be obtained only with the proper dose and after a medical consultation. As you know, we at Clinicana offer you a free consultation service with no obligation. Just give it a try!