If you have begun experiencing hereditary hair loss, the amount of potential treatment options and the due diligence required to adequately explore their efficacy can be overwhelming. How do you determine what the right treatment option is for you? How do you eliminate potential treatment options that you do not feel would be a good fit for you? If you are suffering from hair loss or hair thinning, the first step you need to take is to consult a licensed medical professional to determine the underlying cause of the hair loss. Upon examination by a doctor, many Americans find that their loss is due to their genetics, which can be disheartening and frustrating as this can be a more difficult type of hair loss to treat. However, if you have found that you are suffering from hair loss due to heredity, it is vital not to lose hope and instead to funnel your energy into researching potential treatment options to understand their benefits and disadvantages so that you can make an educated decision about how to move forward. If you are suffering from androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, in particular, you may come across a prescription called Finasteride. Finasteride may also be known by its brand name, Propecia. Using Finasteride for hair regrowth is a significant decision as the Finasteride pill does have a with a number of side effects that may occur. To help you make an informed decision about whether or not Finasteride may be a helpful treatment option for you, we have put together a guide that delves into what male pattern baldness is, the role dihydrotestoterone (DHT) plays in male pattern baldness and how Finasteride treats androgenetic alopecia, potential Finasteride side effects, other uses for Finasteride, and other treatment options available for hereditary hair loss.
What is Male Pattern Baldness?
Before assessing how Finasteride is used to treat male pattern baldness, it is important to analyze what male pattern baldness is. As mentioned above, male pattern baldness is a type of androgenetic alopecia. Male pattern baldness is one of the most common causes of hair loss in men, and unlike many common understandings of this type of hair loss, it actually can begin to appear much earlier in a man’s life than many people believe. Roughly twenty-five percent of men that are suffering from male pattern baldness will begin to experience hair loss prior to the age of twenty-one. As men age, the number of men affected by male pattern baldness grows significantly. On average, by the time an American man reaches thirty-five, two-thirds of the male population will have the onset of some form of appreciable hair loss. Once American men reach fifty years of age, eighty-five percent will be experiencing significant hair loss or hair thinning. For more than ninety-five percent of men suffering from hair loss, male pattern baldness is the culprit responsible for the hair loss. It is important to keep in mind that the effects of male pattern baldness extend far beyond just physical experience. Many men begin to have feelings of embarrassment, self-doubt, and uncertainty due to their hair loss or hair thinning. This can manifest itself in behavior changes within both their personal and professional lives and can foster feelings of inadequacy. With this in mind, it is now possible to examine the underlying cause of male pattern baldness, DHT, and how Finasteride combats hair loss or hair thinning due to male pattern baldness.
The Role of DHT in Male Pattern Baldness and How Finasteride Treats Hair Loss
To analyze how Finasteride disrupts the onset of hair loss due to male pattern baldness, it is important to first understand the cause of male pattern baldness. Hair loss can occur for a variety of different reasons, including due to a hormonal imbalance, significant weight loss, extreme stress, as a side effect to a medication, or as a result of an underlying infection or disease. However, for men suffering from male pattern baldness, their hair loss is commonly due to their heredity. Some men’s hair follicles are genetically predisposed to be sensitive to DHT. Because of this sensitivity to DHT, the hair follicle will begin to miniaturize, or shrink in size. Miniaturization is a process that takes place over time and significantly reduces the lifespan of the hair follicle that is affected. Once the miniaturization process has completed, the hair follicle will cease production of new hairs as a result, which causes the appearance of hair thinning and over time the appearance of a bald spot. Male pattern baldness is commonly characterized by hair loss on the crown of the head or the presence of a receding hairline. Hair follicles appear to be most sensitive to DHT on the mid-anterior scalp and the temples. The appearance of male pattern baldness often increases in severity over time, and in severe cases may result in only a horseshoe pattern of hair remaining once it has advanced.
As mentioned above, DHT is integral to the onset of male pattern baldness, but what exactly is DHT? DHT is a derivative or byproduct of testosterone. Testosterone is converted to DHT with the help of enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. While many aspects of the genetic process that causes male pattern baldness are still largely a mystery, it has been observed that DHT causes the shrinkage, or miniaturization, of hair follicles. It has also been discovered that if DHT is suppressed, the hair follicles will continue to grow hair normally and will not shrink. Since miniaturization is a process that occurs over a period of time, if intervention is made to suppress DHT early in the process of hair follicle shrinkage, the hair loss or hair thinning can be halted, and in some cases even reversed. This is where Finasteride comes into play. Finasteride, or Propecia as it is referred to in brand form, acts as an enzyme 5-alpha-redutase inhibitor. This means that Finasteride prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT by inhibiting the enzyme that helps this process to occur. By doing so, it is able to stop the onset of hair loss or hair thinning due to male pattern baldness and promote new hair growth. To treat hair loss, Finasteride is prescribed in 1mg tablet form that is to be taken once per day, with or without food. This Finasteride dosage is important to note as Finasteride also is used to treat another condition, which will be discussed in a later section. It is important to note that a prescription from a licensed medical professional is required in order to obtain Finasteride. Finasteride must be taken daily and will likely require three months to begin showing its effects. If an individual stops taking Finasteride, a reversal of effects will occur within twelve months. With this in mind, it is now important to analyze the Finasteride 1mg side effects.
Finasteride Side Effects
Finasteride has been shown to be beneficial in treating hair loss and hair thinning in men due to male pattern baldness, but it has been associated with a number of side effects. These side effects may determine whether or not the individual finds Finasteride to be the right treatment option for them since they may affect satisfaction and happiness with its effects. If you do begin to experience any side effects as a result of using Finasteride as a treatment option for hair loss, it is vital that you seek the consultation of a licensed medical professional as soon as possible to make sure that continued use is safe and recommended. Symptoms associated with Finasteride can be broken down into three categories: common symptoms, less common symptoms, and rare symptoms. These categories are only meant to serve as a barometer for how frequently other users of Finasteride have experience such symptoms. Common symptoms include chills, cold sweats, dizziness, fainting, lightheadedness when arising from a sitting or lying position, decreased interest in sexual intercourse, loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance, or inability to have or maintain an erection. The sexual side effects are an area that an individual must carefully consider before beginning treatment as this can be a significant side effect to deal with, especially since there has been some indication that the onset of erectile dysfunction may persist even after use of Finasteride has ceased. Less common side effects of taking Finasteride include runny nose, sleepiness, unusual drowsiness, stuffy nose, sneezing, skin rash, rapid weight gain, redness of the skin, tingling of the hands or feet, unusual weight gain or loss, swelling of the lips and face, itchy skin, hives or welts, or bloating of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet. Rare symptoms include testicular pain, headache, back pain, diarrhea, decreased amount of semen, and abdominal or stomach pain. Some of the common symptoms may lessen or go away as time passes and the body adjusts to having the Finasteride in its system. However, it is always important to contact and consult with your doctor to make sure that any side effects you experience are within the expected levels.
Other Uses of Finasteride
While Finasteride can be used to treat male pattern baldness, its other common use is in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in adult men. When used in this form, Finasteride is often known by its brand name, Proscar. In the treatment of BPH, Finasteride may be used on its own or in conjunction with other medication to lessen the symptoms of BPH. BPH may also sometimes warrant the need for surgery. Finasteride can help in the reduction of BPH symptoms, such as decreasing the urge to urinate, lessening the feeling that the bladder is not completely empty, decreasing the need to urinate during the nighttime, and improving the flow of urine with less straining. Similar to its treatment for androgenetic alopecia, Finasteride improves the symptoms of BPH by decreasing the amount of DHT, which is what causes the growth of the prostate. When used to treat BPH, a Finasteride 5mg tab is prescribed to be taken orally once per day.
How Finasteride Affects Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Levels
Though not a traditional side effect, the potential change Finasteride can induce in PSA levels is vital to know before you begin taking it. Medical professionals monitor and test PSA levels in men to determine whether or not they have prostate cancer, which is one of the most common forms of cancer in men. If the PSA level exceeds 4.0ng/mL, many doctors will request a prostate biopsy be performed to determine whether not prostate cancer has developed. This is important to know for those taking Finasteride as it can reduce serum PSA levels by approximately fifty percent, even when prostate cancer is present. This effect occurs because Finasteride acts as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. This means that individuals taking Finasteride can develop prostate cancer without knowing, which may result in the development and growth of cancer without early intervention or treatment. Before any type of treatment using Finasteride is initiated, it is important to work with your doctor to ensure that you have a concrete plan in place to continue monitoring and checking for the possibility of prostate cancer.
Other Treatment Options for Hereditary Hair Loss
It is important to keep in mind that Finasteride is not the only treatment option available for those suffering from hereditary hair loss. Below are two other treatment options available.
- Surgical Hair Transplant: Another treatment option for individuals suffering from male pattern baldness is undergoing a surgical hair transplant. During this procedure, hair follicles from other areas on the scalp are transplanted to areas experiencing hair loss or hair thinning. It is important to note that this treatment option can be expensive and may cause pain.
- Scalp Med: If you are looking for a way to naturally regrow lost hair without the sexual side effects of Finasteride or the hefty price tag of surgical hair transplant, Scalp Med is the right solution for you. Scalp Med is a proven-effective regimen that uses a proprietary two-step process to halt and reverse hereditary hair loss. Scalp Med does not cause sexual side effects, and over ninety-five percent of Scalp Med users experience remarkable hair growth in six months.