Before you take Proscar or Propecia, read on to learn more about the medications in this finasteride FAQ.
In this article:
- What Is Finasteride?
- What Is the Use of Finasteride?
- How Effective Is Finasteride?
- How Long Does It Take for Finasteride to Work?
- Can I Stop Taking Finasteride?
- Can Women Use Finasteride?
- What Are the Side Effects of Taking Finasteride?
- Is Finasteride Safe Long Term?
- Does Finasteride Interact with Other Drugs?
- Can You Take or Use Finasteride and Minoxidil Together?
Finasteride FAQ: Don’t Take the Meds Without Reading This First
What Is Finasteride?
Finasteride is one of the two FDA-approved drugs (the other is minoxidil) for the treatment of hair loss and hair thinning in men. It is also the generic name for branded drugs such as Propecia and Proscar, which incidentally are doctor prescriptions for the treatment of prostate disorders, especially benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
The effects of finasteride tablets on hair loss and hair thinning are actually side effects of taking prostate drugs.
What Is the Use of Finasteride?
What is finasteride used for, or what does finasteride do? Like Avodart, it is an enzyme inhibitor, working against 5-alpha reductase.
This enzyme regulates the conversion of the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). For men with androgenetic alopecia or male pattern hair loss, DHT can be harmful to the scalp hair, resulting in its thinning or loss.
By preventing the enzyme from working, generic finasteride can stop hair loss or even reverse the process, promoting hair regrowth. In a study, it can reduce the concentrations of DHT in the scalp by as much as 60%.
How Effective Is Finasteride?
One of the clinical trials involved nearly 2,000 men between 18 and 41 years old with mild to moderate conditions of male pattern baldness. Some of the participants took oral finasteride, while the others received a placebo.
To determine the effectiveness of the medicine, the researchers compared the hair regrowth in a certain area of the scalp. They also assessed the overall condition of the participants, together with medical experts like dermatologists.
The results suggested more than 85% of the men who took oral finasteride experienced hair regrowth or didn’t lose more hair. Fewer than 15%, meanwhile, lost more hair within the same period as opposed to over 55% among the placebo participants.
How Long Does It Take for Finasteride to Work?
The results can vary among patients. In a trial published in The Journal of Dermatology by the Japanese Dermatological Association, male subjects with androgenic alopecia or male baldness experienced hair regrowth within 5 years of continuous oral intake.
But, the exact start-off points when signs of first clinical improvement showed varied depending on the type of androgenic alopecia.
Journal reviews suggest that it may take at least three months of continuous or daily topical use of generic Propecia or Proscar to see significant effects. So far, the FDA hasn’t approved any topical finasteride in the United States, but it’s already available in India.
Can I Stop Taking Finasteride?
A patient can choose to stop taking the medicine, but it may only result in the increase of DHT in the scalp hair. It’s, therefore, possible that you will experience hair loss again.
Consult your doctor first before starting off on the drug and discontinuing intake.
Can Women Use Finasteride?
The use of finasteride for whatever health reason is strongly prohibited for pregnant women or those planning to have a child. This medicine is under Pregnant Category X, which means it increases the risk of permanent damage to an unborn baby.
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Finasteride?
Most of the reported side effects include:
- Erectile dysfunction or sexual dysfunction
- Decreased libido
- Breast tenderness or breast enlargement (gynecomastia)
- Decreased ejaculate volume
There are no reports to show these drugs are risk factors for adverse effects like male infertility or male breast cancer. Usually, the way to reduce the side effects of finasteride is to stop the therapy, although some symptoms or side effects resolve even during the treatment.
There have been no reports of side effect on hairs on other body parts since the medication works only on the enzyme which impacts the scalp hair.
Is Finasteride Safe Long Term?
In a formerly mentioned study from The Journal of Dermatology, finasteride was used by the subjects for 5 years. There were reported adverse events, but they were mild and spontaneously subsided.
Does Finasteride Interact with Other Drugs?
There have been no noted significant interactions between finasteride and other drugs. But, as a general medical rule, those with liver and kidney problems should avoid the intake of this anti-hair loss medicine.
People who experience hypersensitive symptoms or allergic skin and/or respiratory reactions to the formulation should discontinue use and seek medical assistance immediately.
As finasteride is an established drug for prostate conditions, its effects on the reproductive system may be direct. For this reason, male patients who wish to conceive with their partners should take precaution or undergo a sperm count test before taking the medication.
Can You Take or Use Finasteride and Minoxidil Together?
The combined treatment of finasteride and minoxidil have been used as method variables in clinical trials on both female and male pattern baldness. In general, hair densities of subjects have improved over the duration of the studies:
- A retrospective assessment of topical 5% minoxidil and 1% finasteride on androgenic alopecia
- Efficacy study of 1-mg oral finasteride, 10% topical minoxidil, and micro-needling on male pattern baldness
- Use of 0.025% finasteride and 3% minoxidil on female pattern hair loss
Hopefully, this finasteride FAQ will give you more options in treating hair loss other than a hair transplant surgery. Consider it as a patient information leaflet.
There are many ways on how to get finasteride or minoxidil. Alpha Now currently offers both.
Either way, any patient should only buy from a reputable seller and undergo the treatment with a doctor’s guidance.
What other queries do you have on finasteride? Let us know in the comments section below!