Hello Friends and Patients!
In one of our most important article on the stage-wise treatment of hair loss in men, we discussed about the two FDA approved medications: The tablet Finasteride commonly known as Propecia and minoxidil topical application on the scalp.
We also discussed almost everything on hair loss in our previous episodes, starting from what causes hair loss both in men and women, the stages of hair loss in men and women, the medical treatments of hair loss, important facts and misconceptions on hair loss, some bad habits that can cause hair loss, foods that can reverse hair loss and many more. You can checkout that article category from HERE.
Now, Lets first quickly recap some important points on Finasteride and then we will discuss the side effects and real facts on the long term use of finasteride – like, does it really have those side effects?
Finasteride is a 5-Alpha-Reductase inhibitor which blocks the formation or conversion of testosterone to Di-Hydroxy-Testosterone (in short DHT). DHT is the hormone responsible for male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia. It acts on the hair follicles and gradually miniaturises the follicles and completely kills them as discussed in our previous articles.
Now lets jump to our topic and start listing out some important myths, facts and figures on the medication Finasteride for hair loss.
# 1. Finasteride is used to treat male pattern baldness. And, its action is only at the crown and in the middle of the scalp. It is not helpful in treating receding hair line, except when started very early when the hair follicles are still in the miniaturized state.
#2. Finasteride must be used by adult men only over the age of 18. I suggest over the age of 20 years. Because this is the hormone responsible for the development of secondary male characters like beard growth, chest hair and so on. But once these male characteristics are developed, blocking DHT does not alter beard growth or body hair.
#3. Women and children must never use this drug. It is not FDA approved for women because it can cause some serious birth defects if taken by pregnant women.
#4. How to use Finasteride?
1 milligram tablet has to be taken by mouth, And, with or without food does not matter! Preferably early morning is the best time, when testosterone levels are higher and avoid at night to reduce most of its side effects like loss of libido and other similar effects which we will discuss shortly. You ingest 1 mg daily or 1mg on alternate days depending on your hair loss intensity and balancing the benefits versus the side effects.
#5. How Long to use Finasteride to see the results? Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. Remember to use it at the same time each day like early morning as already discussed. It may take from 3 to 6 months to notice some beneficial effect.
#6. Can I discontinue the medication once I achieve the desired results?
No, Never! You must continue to take this medication to maintain your hair growth. When you stop taking finasteride, any benefit you achieved in hair growth is generally lost within 12 months.
#7. What are the Side effects of Finasteride?
Well! this topic is controversial. Many studies have been conducted on this.
The incidence of side effects like erectile dysfunction, ejaculation impairment, and decreased libido has been confirmed. But the incidence is very low, like 1 in 1000 patients and even less in most studies. Some studies reveal that most of these side effects men experience are psychological. While some other studies indicate long term use of this drug can cause irreversible side effects like erectile dysfunction, ejaculation impairment, and decreased libido. But this is true for 5 milligram daily dose!, which is used for the treatment of prostate enlargement.
However if you experience these effects, try your best to avoid it psychologically, diverting your mind into daily exercise for atleast 30 minutes in evenings and taking finasteride 1 mg in early mornings. If you still experience these side effects, discuss with your doctor and stop this medication. You can make a decision whether the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
#8. Other side effects: Other rare side effects like allergic reaction to the drug is extremely unlikely. You might experience allergic rash or something like that but extremely rare.
Another rare side effect is occurrence of man boobs, medically called gynaecomastia. But its very rare. You might even feel tenderness in the part and sometimes even some pain or tenderness in your testicles.
#9. Risk of Prostate Cancer: Finasteride is not approved for prevention of prostate cancer. There is a lot of controversy on this topic. Some research studies show it prevents the occurence of prostate cancer, while some other studies say it may slightly increase the risk of developing a very serious form of prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks.
#10 Do I need to use finasteride tablet in combination with topical Minoxidil ? Yes! this combination if one of the most effective treatments for hair loss and hair thinning since many many years. Minoxidil acts by increasing the local scalp vascularity and finasteride acts by blocking DHT in male pattern baldness. This deadly combination can even reverse hair loss by bringing miniaturised or thinned out hair follicles back to life!
So, there you have it folks! If you found the video helpful, please hit the like button and share this with your friends. Also comment below with your feedback and queries.