Propecia & Finasteride
Attention to all men whose hairlines are receding! You can now end your fear of losing those most-valued locks. A breakthrough medicine has finally acquired the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be safe and effective for androgenetic alopecia, otherwise known as hereditary hair loss. Propecia and finasteride, both names referring to only one drug, proved to be quite a promising medication in increasing the hair count of men during its 2-year study period involving 1,879 men aged 18 to 41, with an additional 1,215 men who were studied for another year.
The FDA approved the use of Propecia and finasteride as a prescription drug in December 1997, and since then has given hope to millions of men who have been missing some of their hair. However, the drug is only prescribed for men and should not be used by women.
How Does Propecia Work?
Androgenetic alopecia is controlled by an overproduction of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is converted from testosterone by the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. The presence of DHT in the cells of the scalp affects the genetically predisposed hair follicles at the crown, top, and front of the scalp instead of the back and sides.
This is precisely why most male-pattern baldness cases are deficient in hair in these areas. DHT shortens the regrowth phase, called anagen, and miniaturizes the hair follicles, causing new hair to grow finer and ultimately disappear.
Propecia and finasteride effectively prevented hair loss, with continuous usage, and significantly resulted in a drop of DHT levels in the scalp and blood. The prescribed dose of Finasteride is 1mg/day. At this dose, serum DHT levels decreased by about 70%, consequently, serum testosterone levels did increase by 9% but is considered normal.
The researchers of the study were looking for a drug that could somehow block the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, and finasteride easily fit the bill. The study was based on the findings in 1974 comparing male children in a village in the Dominican Republic whose DHT levels were very low throughout their lives, and whose prostates remained the normal size and did not develop male-pattern baldness.
Finasteride is not a new drug, though. In fact, it has been helping men with prostate problems since 1992 but the 2-year study proved to be very fruitful indeed especially for men who are experiencing androgenetic alopecia. The 5 mg Finasteride pill is available through the brand name Proscar intended for use in men above the age 50 with enlarged prostates.
Propecia’s hair growing results can be observed after a year or longer so don’t dismay if you don’t get overnight results. The first six months can be disheartening since existing hair continues to grow thinner, which may because the effects of overproduction of DHT on your hair follicles already took its course before finasteride could act upon them.
What Propecia side effects can you expect with continued use of the medication?
Throughout the study period, only a small number of patients observed a reduction in sexual drive, difficulty to have an erection, and decreased amount of semen. The finasteride side effects on women were also note-worthy. Researchers found Propecia birth defect called hypospadias, or abnormalities in the male infant’s sex organs.
Moreover, pregnant women, as well as women suspecting to be pregnant, are cautioned on even handling broken finasteride pills due to its potency. Merck and Co., the manufacturer of Propecia (Finasteride 1mg), produces the tablet with a special coating that prevents contact with the pill’s active ingredients during processing, given that the pill should not be in any way crushed or broken.
Men had to live with going bald, but that was a thing of the past, with Propecia (finasteride 1mg/day), you can say “hello” to new hair.