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Finasteride for Male Pattern Baldness
Finasteride is the only FDA approved oral medication for AGA (androgenic alopecia/male pattern baldness) in men. It was initially a medication for prostate enlargement and sold under Merck’s brand name Proscar (Proscar are 5mg tablets of finasteride, FDA approved since 1992). Many Proscar users who also has male pattern baldness noticed an interesting side effect – hair regrowth, and that had lead to a comprehensive clinical research made by Merck, after which the Propecia was born – a 1mg tablet of finasteride. Propecia is FDA approved since 1997 for hair loss treatment.
How Finasteride Works
Finasteride is a synthetic unti-adrogen that limits production of type II 5-alpha reductase (but not the type I), one of 2 enzymes that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is the hormone associated with thinning hair an baldness in men and women, and those who have genetic sensitivity (derived from heredity) to DHT will experience pattern baldness.
Propecia Clinical Studies
Few studies were conducted on finasteride but the only long term study ever made was Merck’s 5 years study.
In the 5 years study, 1533 men in the age of 18-41 with mild to moderate pattern baldness were assigned into 2 groups, half were treated with Propecia and half with placbo for a period of 1 year, those who fulfilled the experiment’s terms were allowed to continue to the second year etc. In the 5th year 279 men were left in the Propecia group and only 16 men in the placebo.
Baseline count at the beginning of the study was 876 hair units per square inch in the vertex area in both groups. Change in hair thickness were made based on 4 parameter:
1. Measuring the numbers of hairs vs baseline
2. Before and after pictures
3. Questionnaires filled by the participants
4. Medical checks made by physiologists
The results after 5 years showed that 48% of those treated with Propecia (finasteride 1 mg) experienced some regrowth of hair, and 42% had no further loss. This means that finasteride had a positive effect on 90% of it’s users. In addition, the average hair regrowth count showed an increase of 10% in the first year declining to 5% by the 5th year comparing to the placebo group who continued to lose up to 25% of their hair on average by the 5th year. Remember – averages only – I’ll get to what that means in a sec.
The conclusion is that finasteride helps to stop hair loss and keep the hair, however its regrowth effect on average is mild. That’s because the average % includes results from young men and older men. The best regrowth was seen in young men and the lesser regrowth was seen in older men, which caused the decrease on the overall average. That leads to the conclusion that the the sooner you start use finasteride after shedding began – the better results and regrowth you can gain. These had been proven over and over again in may studies and reviews. You should not wait to older age to start using it, if you do wait the regrowth will be mild if any (but hair loss will still stop).
Does Finasteride Help to Stop Baldness All Over the Scalp?
Yes, it’s effective for the midscalp, vertex, front hairline’s areas. However in clinical studies best results were shown in the crown area (midscalp and vertex).
Availability of Finasteride
Finasteride is available by prescription only in most countries including the United States. Still, generic versions made in India are available online through foreign sites without prescription. These versions are made by the leading pharmaceutical companies in India such as Cipla, who is one the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Cipla’s finasteride 1 mg tablets are sold under the brand name “Finpecia”. I was able to purchase a one year supply of generic Propecia tablets for $133 ($0.36 per tablet), free shipping and discount on the next purchase from 4RX, who also provides 24/7 customers service online or by phone. 4RX offers the best prices online, including for generic dutasteride (that limits the production of 5AR types I & II). These prices reflects approximately 80% discount comparing to Propecia’s price.
Some users, in an effort to save money, buy Proscar instead of Propecia, and split the Proscar pills to 5 parts to approximate the Propecia dosage. I do not recommend that as you lose some of the tablet (turns into powder), unused dosage lose it freshness and it’s simply inconvenient. If you want to get affordable finasteride it’s better to get the genetic versions of Propecia.
1 mg finasteride per day by men for male pattern hair loss only. Some men use 1/2 a pill a day as they believe that small dosage has almost the same effect together with reduced risk for side effects, however there are no studies to support that claim.
Side Effects of Finasteride
Recognized side effects of finasteride include impotence, ejaculation problems, decreased ejaculatory volume, erectile dysfunction and testicular pain in less then 2% of users according to Merck (that disappear in most users after few weeks of use and disappear in all men who discontinue use). Additional rare side effects may include dry scalp, breast tenderness and enlargement. Consult your doctor if any side effects appear, finasteride is considered to be a safe medication and is used by millions of men around the world.
Finasteride WARNING for Women
Finasteride is prohibited for women in general. It should not be handled by women who are pregnant or might become pregnant. Finasteride can cause birth defects on male fetus. Studies on women discover mild or no effect of finastride. The reason is that the different physiological profile of women including lower levels of the enzyme 5AR, testosterone and DHT.
Finasteride WARNING for Men
- Men who use finasteride must not donate blood, as it can be delivered to pregnant women.
- Men must report their physician that they use it as it may bias blood tests results and conceal prostate cancer findings.
- Usage is forbidden for professional athletes, as it may conceal use of steroids.
What Happens When You Stop Using Finasteride
You will return to first base. Pattern baldness treatments help as long as you continue treatment, when you stop excessive shedding will occur in which you will lose what you gained.
Finasteride is a just-for-men baldness cure that has been proven to stop hair loss in men with male pattern baldness and to encourage regrowth. You can get the expensive Propecia after you get a doctor’s prescription or you can buy the discounted generic versions online (same finasteride, different brand names). Visit your doctor first to make sure you suffer from male pattern baldness, is you do – he will recommend finasteride.
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