In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first pill to treat male pattern hair loss. Finasteride (or the brand name Propecia) is a prescription medication formulated to block male pattern baldness. It is proven to be incredibly safe with less than 2% of users suffering only mild side effects. One tablet taken per day assists in the prevention of further hair loss and only affects head hair, not body hair elsewhere.
Many men are concerned about reported sexual side effects with the drug. In truth, the side effect of lower libido was noted in only 1.8% of the men taking the drug in clinical trials versus 1.3% on a placebo. Furthermore, this side effect always went away in men who stopped taking Finasteride , and also disappeared in most men who continued taking Finasteride.
Most men taking Finasteride experienced an increase in hair count, a decrease in hair loss, and an improvement in appearance.
Men who visit The Crown Clinic often ask if they'll need to take Finasteride if they have hair transplants. Although we believe Finasteride is a good adjunct to hair transplants, it's a matter of personal choice. Finasteride serves an extremely useful purpose for those men who want to slow down the progressive thinning of non-transplanted hair. While only 5% of the men in clinical trials were judged to have "greatly" increased the hair in the vertex, an impressive 83% maintained or increased their hair count while on Finasteride and 66% had a visible increase in their scalp hair.
How does Finasteride work? Scientists have discovered that the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is one of the principal factors in male pattern hair loss. Finasteride inhibits the formation of DHT and helps to interrupt this key factor in the development of inherited male pattern hair loss in men. Most men who take Finasteride experience a slowing or cessation of hair loss over the back and top of the scalp.
It is important to have realistic expectations - results take time. You should be willing to commit yourself to taking Finasteride for at least six months. It must be taken on an ongoing basis to maintain the benefit. Men who are already "shiny bald" are less likely to benefit from Finasteride because the hair follicles may not be salvageable. Men who have early thinning in the back and top have a better chance to see some benefit, but only for as long as they continue taking the medication.