Propecia or Finasteride as it’s popularly known by Merck is a drug that can be orally taken to deal with hair loss and male pattern baldness (MPB). It is one of the medically proven products, licensed by the UK medical regulatory body the MHRA, and approved by its US counterpart the FDA for hair loss in men.
Finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone largely responsible for male pattern baldness. One of the most common reasons for hair loss in men is Male Pattern Baldness. One-fourth men who suffer from this condition begin to lose their hair while they are in their teens or before they reach the age of 21. Most men experience this sort of hair loss by the age of 80.
Primarily what happens in condition is that hair start disappearing in a pattern, starting from above the temples and then reaching a stage when they form an” M” shape. Hair loss is first visible where the crown is, and then the entire front, top and crown become bald over a period of time.
Male pattern baldness is a genetic condition and is influenced greatly by factors like stress; usage of specific medicines and habits such as smoking are all known to impact the risk of male pattern baldness.
Dihydrotestosterone(DHT) which determines the sex of males’ is known to cause this condition. What it basically does is that it attacks a vulnerable hair follicle which produces an unpigmented miniature hair rather than a normal pigmented hair. Due to this the follicle keeps getting smaller and thinner until it finally disappears. To cure this condition, propecia is taken.
Starting dose of finasteride for the treatment of hair loss is 1mg a day. Your doctor may adjust the dose over time, based on your response to the medication. Finasteride can be taken any time of the day without regard to food or other medications.
You may experience hair loss during the first 3-6 months of starting the treatment. This generally is an indication that the medication is working. Do not stop the medication if you see shedding. It takes up to a full year to see the effects of Finasteride, so relax.
The idea was to produce a drug that would limit both the enzyme and also possess qualities of small prostate glands of these children. This way they could both prevent hair loss and prostate enlargement. So first this drug gained recognition for curing prostate enlargement in 1992 and in 1997 for preventing hair loss.
Propecia is known to block an enzyme called (5-alpha reductase) that turns testosterone to DHT that is present in abundance in and around the hair follicles of balding men with androgenetic alopecia. This decreases the amount of DHT both in scalp and blood. Lowering DHT levels appears to inhibit the miniaturization (thinning) of affected hair follicles and helps restore miniaturized hair follicles to regrow visible healthy hair. According to FDA reports, 83% men who took Propecia for 2 years experienced both stoppage of hair loss and growth of hair during this period.
According to studies conducted abroad, 90% of men who took finasteride experienced growth of hair or complete stoppage of hair loss.
More specifically speaking, 48% of men experienced hair growth, 42% didn’t face any hair loss during this time period while the other 10% lost hair.
It’s best known to promote hair growth on the top part of the scalp.
Data published by various hospitals and clinics have shown that Propecia works best on the top and frontal part of head and in limiting hair loss.
Propecia is advised to be taken once daily with or without meals. It’s essential that patients take the medicine at least for one year so that the results can be properly assessed.
For the first six months one may experience thinning of existing hair since the medicine takes time to act.
Patience is the most important virtue during this time period. If one observes positive results after one year of dosage then one may continue to take this medicine.
There are a few side-effects of consuming Propecia as well. Statistics portrayed that 3.8% of men who took 1 milligram of finasteride per day experienced some or the other sort of sexual dysfunction. Side effects caused in during of 5 years included: decreased libido (0.3%), erectile dysfunction (0.3%), and less ejaculation (0.0%).
Sexual dysfunction occurred in most cases when the medication was begun, but then sexual dysfunction has also been observed at later points of time as well amongst cases. Erectile dysfunction, depression, penile numbness, and loss of libido, are a few side effects that men faced upon discontinuation of Propecia.
In most cases the sexual side effects reversed upon discontinuing the medication. On stopping the medication the side effects usually disappeared over a couple of weeks’ time period. There have a few cases as well in which the side effects didn’t disappear even after discontinuation of the medicine. On discontinuation of the medicine the hair that are under its influence are affected and gradually the hair start declining to their previous state (time when the medicine wasn’t taken).
Taking finasteride may also increase body hair in some men. It may also cause breast tenderness and breast enlargement. Other minor side effects caused by Propecia amongst men are rashes, pruritus, swelling of lips and testicular pain.
Propecia is most effective in areas where the hairs are still in the process of thinning and there some hairs are present. It doesn’t have the capability of starting hair growth in the region that has gone completely bald. The most prominent benefit of this medicine is that it can slow down the process of hair loss to a great extent and even bring it to a stop. Results for this medication are visible in a time period stretching from 1-2 years though it’s not definite whether that’s sufficient.
So far statistics go, men have used it even for 5 years and have prevented hair loss.
Pregnant women and children are strictly prohibited to use this medicine. This is a medicine specifically designed for the male gender and any skin absorption of Propecia by pregnant women can cause birth defects.
Men who have a history of prostate cancer aren’t advised to take this drug for preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth.
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