The majority of men will experience baldness eventually – studies suggest that around 85% of males are affected by it by the time they have their fiftieth birthday, which is why finasteride is such good news. There are several steps you can take to prevent or reverse baldness.
Note: Ensure to seek medical advice from a qualified doctor before beginning any treatment or medication.
What is it?
Finasteride is a prescription-only medication that blocks DHT, a hormone associated with baldness. It is generally taken as a 1mg tablet once a day, and is FDA approved to treat baldness. Initially, most people’s hair loss stops in its tracks. After a few years, your hair can even grow back thicker. However, as soon as you stop taking it, hair loss will start to occur again.
How it works
It blocks enzyme 5-alpha reductase, responsible for turning testosterone into DHT. In doing so, it creates a significant decrease in DHT levels in the blood and scalp. Lower DHT levels help the hair to grow naturally. Finasteride 1mg is effective at decreasing DHT by around 70%, and in doing so helps to prevent hair loss.
The most common side effects of this drug are:
- Hair shedding (this is actually a sign the drug is working properly!)
- Dizziness & light-headedness
- Cold sweats
- Weakened sex drive
- Inability to get or maintain an erection
Most of these symptoms should pass. In rare instances, finasteride may lead to PFS, a syndrome which can cause long-term sexual dysfunctions, depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Research has suggested that 90% of men who take this medication regrow their hair or have no more hair loss after 5 years (though it usually takes far less time than this). Around 50% of men have an increase of hair growth, 40% don’t have any new hair loss, and the final 10% lost some hair. This makes it very highly effective compared to a placebo.
How to get the best results
Getting the best results with finasteride involves being committed. It doesn’t work immediately, and you might get a few side effects initially. Because it takes a while to work, you should keep taking it for 3 months (unless you experience serious side effects). And remember, if you stop taking the drug, hair loss will resume.
Thankfully, the pill is pretty easy to take. To make it easier to remember, try setting a reminder on your phone at the same time each day.
Finasteride can also be used in conjunction with a hair transplant. This is often done because the drug is not as effective at the front of the scalp, but a transplant is. Surgical restoration of the hair at the front tends to offer the most cosmetic benefit. The drug shines at improving hair loss at the back of the scalp, where hair transplants don’t often work too well. So by combining the two methods, you could get much better hair growth results.
If you find out you cannot take the drug, or decide you don’t want to because of the potential side effects, getting a hair transplantation is pretty much just as effective. However, the drug prevents more hair loss from occurring, whilst the surgery doesn’t.
In short, you don’t need the drug, but it can help.
If you’re curious to learn more, speak to your doctor about whether finasteride is right for you. And if you need something even stronger for treating male pattern baldness, your doctor might be able to prescribe you a combination of this drug and minoxidil.