Finasteride is an oral treatment for androgenetic alopecia in men, approved by the FDA in 1997.
Finasteride really does regrow hair for some people. Studies report that the most effective and safest treatment for male pattern baldness is oral finasteride combined with topical Minoxidil. However, for women with pattern hair loss topical Minoxidil is the most effective and safest, according to the studies. Sadly, there have been very few studies focused on the use of Propecia in women.
Propecia is not approved or recommended for women of reproductive age with pattern hair loss. But, it is used off label for hair restoration in post-menopausal women. Finasteride is dangerous for premenopausal women, and is classified as pregnancy category X, meaning it can cause birth defects. And, there is some research that suggests taking Propecia can raise the risk of breast cancer because this drug converts testosterone to estradiol and creates an excess of estrogen.
What causes male and female pattern baldness?
Hereditary hair loss is the result of the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone or DHT in the scalp. This conversion is caused by an enzyme called 5-Alpha Reductase. DHT binds to receptors in the follicles and inhibits hair growth, causing the hair to fall out.
What is finasteride?
Finasteride is the active ingredient in Propecia. It inhibits DHT by inhibiting the enzyme 5-Alpha Reductase. Propecia lowers the amount of DHT in the body and so reduces hair loss caused by DHT. It is also approved for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate).
How is it taken?
It is an oral prescription medication that is taken once a day to prevent balding. Once you start taking it, you must continue to take it or all the hair that was retained will fall out.
Common side effects
Common side effects include loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, depression, anxiety and fatigue. 2% of men who take Propecia report persistent sexual, and other symptoms such as depression, even after discontinuation of the drug. And recent studies have been unable to determine why this happens.
In our opinion, Propecia should be used only to prevent continued hair loss, but it is not recommended to regrow hair.