Top 50 Hair Loss Treatments: #7 Propecia (Finasteride)

#7 Propecia (Finasteride)

Propecia is a prescription tablet taken once a day by men with male pattern baldness. It reduces the effect of hormones on hair follicles, which can prevent and even reverse hair loss. It is effective in 90% of men as shown in a study of over 1,800 patients, and its effects are often seen after 3-6 months.
Propecia is a prescription-only medicine that is used to treat male pattern baldness. It is only available in the UK by private prescription. Propecia is the well-known branded version of the active ingredient “finasteride” which has been used to treat hair loss since the 1990s.

How does Propecia work?

Propecia works by preventing testosterone in your body from converting into a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT blocks the absorption of vital nutrients required for healthy hair follicles, which causes male pattern baldness.
By blocking the effect of DHT, Propecia slows down hair loss and in some cases even reverses it. This leads to thicker, healthier-looking hair as your hair follicles get the nutrients they need. But, for Propecia to have an effect on hair loss, one tablet must be taken every day. If treatment is discontinued then hair loss will return within 6-8 months. Propecia only affects hair growth on the head, and not on any other parts of the body.

How quickly does Propecia work?

When taken correctly (one tablet every day) Propecia should begin to show results after three months. In some men, however, positive effects may take longer to develop. For this reason, it is important not to become discouraged too early into your treatment. However, if you have been taking Propecia for longer than 12 months and are yet to see a difference, it is unlikely that the treatment will begin to work after this point. In this case you should speak to your GP about how to proceed.

How effective is Propecia?

Propecia is considered the most effective hair loss medicine available. According to clinical research, when one tablet was taken every day by men aged 18-41 with mild or moderate hair loss, Propecia was effective at slowing or reversing hair loss in 9 out of 10 participants.
It is unlikely that Propecia will be effective when taken by men who:

  • have severe hair loss (very little hair left)
  • are not suffering from male pattern baldness (i.e. other types of hair loss)
  • do not take Propecia every day
Propecia must also never be taken by women, as it is not effective in preventing female hair loss and it may be unsafe - particularly for pregnant women.
It is important to bear in mind that Propecia is not a permanent cure for male pattern baldness, for this reason, hair loss should be expected to resume six months after treatment has ceased.
In the UK, both Propecia and its generic equivalent "finasteride", can be ordered privately online, subject to a consultation with one of our doctors. As they both contain the same active ingredient, they should be equally effective.

What are the side effects of Propecia

Some men experience a reduced sex drive or erectile problems. A rash or tenderness around the nipples are also potential side effects for some men. More serious effects can include mental issues such as sleeping problems and paranoia.  The risk of side-effects turns many men off the idea of using this treatment, and therefore they seek safer alternative such as multi-vitamin hair supplements.

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