In men, hair loss is very common. Indeed, according to the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM), over 50 percent of all men over 50 will be affected in one way or another by male pattern baldness.
It’s no wonder that there is a plethora of products and treatments designed to help fight hair loss in men. One of the most popular drugs is Propecia (also known as finasteride).
Approved by the FDA in 1997, Propecia is a prescription drug that treats hair loss in men. Although it has been shown to be an effective treatment, some patients are unable to overcome some of the side effects of the drug, such as low libido, erectile dysfunction, and decreased semen volume.
Propecia is a brand name for the generic version of finasteride, which is a prescription oral tablet only taken daily to slow hair loss in men. It is important to note that the drug cannot prevent hair loss in men, and it cannot regrow hair that has been lost permanently, but rather stops hair loss in its tracks.
“It does a great job of preserving and even thickening existing hair,” said San Francisco-based dual-board certified plastic surgeon and reconstructor Dr. Sieber. “It protects native hair and does a great job of slowing down the thinning and falling process.”
Using the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which is the enzyme involved in steroid metabolism, Propecia blocks the conversion of testosterone to androgen Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Testosterone is a hormone found in both men and women, although men generally have more testosterone in their bodies. About 10 percent of testosterone in all adults is converted to DHT. However, testosterone is what helps in hair growth.
“DHT is a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, which signals the hair follicle to undergo miniaturization,” the hair transplant surgeon told Ziering Medicalsays Dr. Rae Lynne Kinler. “Over time, this leads to a thinner, thinner, and lighter hair shaft, which gradually gets smaller until the follicle no longer produces a hair shaft.”
Propecia and all finasteride tablets are prescription only, which means you cannot get them over the counter like a minoxidil treatment like Rogaine. Unlike taking Propecia by mouth, Rogaine is a topical treatment that dilates the blood vessels in the scalp to synchronize the hair to be in an active growth phase.
Finasteride can also be incorporated into a topical preparation for those who are unable or unwilling to take it orally.
If you want to take Propecia to treat hair loss, you will need to talk to your doctor to see if this is the treatment plan for you. If you are looking for a prescription online, you can get generic finasteride through Hims and other telehealth platforms, which require virtual consultations.
Propecia is usually not covered by insurance and can cost about $ 70 per month. However, if you’re looking to save money, you can get finasteride, which might be covered by insurance and costs as little as $ 10 per month.
FDA approved for men only, Propecia is best used for men with thinning crowns or baldness. Dr Matthieu Lopresti of Leonard Hair Transplant Associates explains that Propecia is “generally the first-line treatment for almost all men with thinning crowns or baldness.” He specifically notes that Propecia doesn’t necessarily target the frontal areas, so those whose hairline recedes may not see results.
Propecia can, and sometimes should, be used in tandem with other preventative hair loss treatments, such as shampoos and other topical treatments.
During this time, it is not recommended for women of childbearing potential due to the risk of fetal birth defects. “This is absolutely not recommended for any woman of childbearing age, whether she is planning to be pregnant or not,” said Dr Sieber. “The drug causes fetal malformations or abnormalities and can lead to the loss of a fetus, so it is recommended to be avoided completely in any woman of childbearing age.”
However, women who have lost their hair after menopause have successfully used Propecia.
A report 2020 says a patient receiving finasteride noticed mood swings and sexual dysfunction, including low libido, difficulty reaching orgasm, and overall loss of interest in sex. However, the study also points out that overall, the drug is generally well tolerated.
“Side effects are relatively infrequent, but they can occur, so [they] are worth watching while taking the drug, ”says Dr Sieber.
While these sexual side effects will most likely stop once you stop taking the drug, the 2020 report also notes that long term side effects include depression and anxiety can occur even after a patient has stopped. to take it.
Post-finasteride syndrome (PFS) has also been reported for some users. It occurs in men who have taken finasteride by mouth and is often characterized by sexual dysfunction, somatic symptoms, and psychological disturbances that persist after finishing treatment with finasteride.
Rogaine and Propecia both target hair loss in men. Rogaine is a brand name for minoxidil. Rogaine and Propecia work in different ways to produce the same results. While Propecia is an oral tablet that blocks the conversion of testosterone, Rogaine is a topical treatment that dilates blood vessels near hair follicles. In turn, this increases blood flow and brings oxygen and nutrients to the hair, allowing it to grow stronger, faster, and thicker. Essentially, it creates a healthier hair growth environment.
Finally, Rogaine can be purchased over the counter (OTC), costing $ 45 for a 3 month supply, while Propecia requires a prescription. However, the results for Propecia have a higher success rate than Rogaine.
Is Propecia Effective Against Hair Loss?
Can Women Take Propecia?
No, women should not take Propecia because it is only approved by the FDA for men.
“There may be a risk of birth defects if a woman of childbearing age takes Propecia,” says Dr Lopresti. However, the 3 doctors note that it is possible for postmenopausal women to receive it off-label, but there is limited evidence of its effectiveness. Anyone wishing to take Propecia should consult their doctor before requesting a prescription.
How long does Propecia take to work?
Dr Lopresti notes that “Propecia should be used daily for at least 18 months to clinically assess the results of treatment.” That being said, patients can start to see results as early as 3 or 4 months.
From there, Dr Sieber says the effects build up about 12 months before they start to stabilize. “The hair is still protected, but the increase in hair thickness can stabilize around 12 months,” he says.
Reviews of Propecia are generally mixed. Those who write poorly rated reviews focus on the negative side effects, including weight gain, brain fog, and low libido. Those who rate Propecia on the upper extremity noted the lack of side effects and instead wrote about how impressed they were with its effectiveness.
Some patients gave it a score of 50 percent. They usually notice negative side effects, but these side effects did not make up for the improvement in their hair thickness.
Additionally, many people who took Propecia ended up switching to generic finasteride because it is a more affordable option.
Potential sexual side effects, although rare, such as decreased libido, decreased erections, and decreased semen volume are a major deterrent for some people. Because of these ramifications, some people have given up on the drug altogether.
“It is important to be aware of possible side effects before starting the medication. Talking to your doctor is the best way to make sure that you are a good candidate to start taking Propecia, ”says Dr. Sieber.
However, there is no denying the ability of Propecia to effectively slow the progression of hair loss for years of thicker, thicker hair for men.
Emily Rekstis is a New York-based beauty and lifestyle writer who writes for numerous publications including Greatist, Racked, and Self. If she isn’t writing on her computer, you can probably find her watching a crowd movie, eating a burger, or reading a New York history book. See more of his work on his website, or follow her on Twitter.