Dr. Sebastian Winckler
DrEd Medical Director
The main advantage of Propecia (finasteride) is that it acts only on scalp hair rather than general body hair. It does so by maintaining your testosterone levels at a higher level than usual, however it often takes 3-6 months before the hair loss treatment is fully effective.
Propecia stops hair loss or leads to hair regrowth in 9 out of 10 men and isn’t available on the NHS. Note that the effect of Propecia only lasts so long as you are taking the medicine, although it can take up to one year until you completely lose the hair gained during the treatment.
About Propecia (Finasteride)
Propecia is not available for women or children, simply because it treats hair loss by increasing the male hormone testosterone to stop hair loss or cause hair regrowth.
It does so by acting on a chemical process that happens only in men as it transforms the testosterone in their body into another component.
The active ingredient in Propecia is known as finasteride, which works by limiting the chemical process that turns testosterone into another hormone and causes baldness.
Finasteride is taken by mouth (1 tablet a day) and it often takes at least 3 months before substantial results are achieved, such as reduced hair loss or hair regrowth. If you’re looking to make the best from your propecia treatment, the only way is to take is continuously for as long as you wish to prevent hair loss. As soon as the treatment is stopped, it will take somewhere between 9-12 months to lose the hair you have gained with the treatment.
Effect of Propecia – Effectiveness & Precautions
The studies that confirmed the effect of Propecia for male hair loss involved nearly 3,000 men suffering from mild-to-moderate alopecia (i.e. male pattern hair loss).
All the results were confirmed by independent researchers and dermatologists as well as professional before and after pictures with Propecia treatment. The studies also confirmed that about 85% of patients treated with finasteride showed an increase in hair volume and hair regrowth, while about 5% benefited from a stop in hair loss.
Most trials have been run and tested for men age over 41, who are probably the most interested in a male hair loss treatment. Therefore, many doctors usually don’t prescribe Propecia for men over 60 as the side-effects are somewhat unknown.
Note that it’s perfectly safe to stop taking your Propecia tablets any time and that no severe side-effects have been observed.
Also, be aware that you should not donate blood when taking Propecia since there is a risk that your donation can be transfused to a pregnant woman.
Propecia – Side-effects
The side-effects of Propecia (finasteride) are usually quite mild and not everyone has them – a common rate for medications is 1 in 10 patients. As for many medicines, side-effects often appear most at the beginning of the treatment after what your body tends to get used to it.
Among the most common side-effects of Propecia, you’ll find:
- Reduced sex drive or interest in sex (about 1 in 10 patients)
- Mild erectile dysfunction (less than 1 in 10 patients)
- Decreased volume of ejaculation (less than 1 in 10 patients)
- Pain in the testicles
- Breast tenderness
- Itching and/or skin rash
However, keep in mind that all of these problems resolved as soon as patients stopped the treatment (i.e. they’re reversible), and that in most patients who decided to continue, the side-effects have disappeared over time as well.
Also, if any of these side-effects – in particular itching, skin rash or an allergic reaction such as swelling of the face or difficulty breathing – becomes a real problem to you, you must contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Who cannot take this male hair loss treatment?
Before you order finasteride, you should consult a doctor (online or in real life) to make sure that you are suitable for treatment and whether you may need a specific dosage because of a possible drug interaction with a current treatment.
Among other things, your doctor will need to know whether you have a prostate cancer, any UTI disease (urinary tract system) and if you’re currently taking herbal or complementary medicines (e.g. iron, zinc,…).
Other than that, Propecia can be taken with most medications as no severe drug interaction has been identified. For instance, it’s fairly convenient that it can be taken alongside high blood pressure medications that many men have to take for life, such as ACE inhibitors, alpha- and beta-blockers as well as calcium channel blockers. It is also safe to be taken with certain malaria tablets (quinolones) for those of you who enjoy exotic travels.
Propecia can also be taken in combination with minoxidil-based shampoo and is often used in combination with surgical hair loss treatments (laser, implant) for best results.