Propecia, or Finasteride, effectively treats male pattern baldness by targeting the crown and middle of the scalp. By reducing DHT levels in hair follicles, it promotes hair growth and slows down hair loss. Importantly, Finasteride does not impact hair on other areas of the body.
How long does it take for Finasteride to work?
The complete effects of Finasteride typically become visible within six to nine months, as hair follicles require sufficient time to generate new hair. However, Finasteride begins its action immediately by blocking DHT. On average, it reduces DHT levels in the body by approximately 70%.
Will Finasteride allow me to regrow hair?
Hair follicles naturally go through cycles of growth, shedding, and dormancy, even in individuals with healthy hair. This means that regrowth can take time, as follicles may be in a dormant phase when DHT levels are reduced. They will begin regrowing once the cycle completes. Thus, it may take six to nine months of consistent Finasteride use to observe its full effects. However, many men notice immediate benefits in preventing further hair loss. By rapidly reducing DHT levels, Finasteride significantly slows down hair loss caused by DHT.
The three phases of hair growth
Understanding the three phases of hair growth is crucial in comprehending why Finasteride requires time to show its effectiveness. These phases, namely anagen (growth), catagen (renewal), and telogen (rest), represent distinct cycles of hair development. Familiarizing yourself with these hair growth cycles provides insight into the delayed action of Finasteride.
The anagen phase signifies the active growth stage of hair follicles. Typically lasting between two to six years, this phase determines the potential length of your hair. About 80% to 85% of hairs are in this growth phase at any given time.
The catagen phase, a brief period of renewal, spans only two weeks. During this phase, the follicle undergoes a process of self-renewal.
The telogen phase, known as the dormant stage, typically lasts for approximately one to four months. During this phase, around 12% to 20% of hair follicles are in a resting state. At the conclusion of the telogen phase, existing hair is shed, making way for the start of the anagen phase once more.
What is hair loss?
Hair loss is the condition characterized by the loss of hair from an individual’s scalp. It involves the shrinking of hair follicles, leading to longer telogen phases (resting phase) and shorter anagen phases (growth phase). The primary culprit behind this process is the chemical DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
What is DHT?
DHT, short for dihydrotestosterone, is believed to be responsible for the miniaturization of hair follicles, hindering hair growth. It’s estimated that by the age of 50, around half of men may experience hair loss caused by DHT. Interestingly, bodybuilders may have a higher incidence of hair loss due to elevated levels of DHT resulting from the use of anabolic drugs.
Why does hair still grow on the armpit or beard areas but not on the scalp?
DHT, when present on the scalp, leads to the shrinking of hair follicles. Surprisingly, hair growth on the scalp, particularly in men with male pattern baldness, improves without the presence of DHT. However, in other body areas, DHT actually promotes hair growth. The reason behind this phenomenon is not fully understood, as DHT is crucial for most hair growth except for scalp hair. A 1998 study revealed that hair follicles on the scalp possess a higher concentration of androgen receptors compared to follicles on other body parts. The abundance of these receptors appears to be an inherited trait, varying among individuals. Those with fewer receptors on their scalp typically do not experience male pattern baldness.
Can Finasteride prevent prostate cancer?
Finasteride is typically not prescribed for the treatment of prostate cancer. In a significant Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial spanning 25 years, involving 18,882 men between 1993 and 1997, participants were randomly assigned to receive either Finasteride or a placebo. The study revealed that Finasteride reduced prostate cancer incidence by an impressive 25%. However, the same study also noted a slight increase in high-grade prostate cancers, resulting in the drug receiving a black box warning.
Years later, a follow-up study aimed to assess whether there was a higher number of deaths specifically related to prostate cancer among those treated with Finasteride. The results indicated that among individuals who used Finasteride, there were 42 deaths attributed to prostate cancer, compared to 56 deaths among the placebo group. Therefore, there was no significant increase in prostate cancer-related deaths associated with the use of Finasteride.
Despite its effectiveness in reducing prostate cancer incidence, Finasteride is not typically prescribed as a primary treatment for prostate cancer. This is due to potential side effects, including impotence and urinary incontinence, which need to be carefully considered in the overall treatment decision-making process.
What are the more serious side effects of Finasteride?
Side effects of finasteride include decreased sex drive and ejacuation problems.
"In well-conducted research trials, sexual side effects occurred in about 4% to 6% of men, and these effects were usually reversible.
In April 2012, the FDA issued a warning regarding finasteride, highlighting the possibility of persistent sexual side effects even after discontinuing the medication. These side effects encompassed decreased sex drive and ejaculation problems. The FDA based this warning on approximately 100 reports it received over a span of nearly 20 years. It’s important to note that these reports do not provide conclusive evidence that finasteride was solely responsible for the observed sexual symptoms, as various medical conditions and other prescription drugs could potentially explain such symptoms experienced by the men while taking finasteride.