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Does Finasteride Work For Hair Loss and Are There Side Effects

Hair loss is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and it can have a significant impact on an individual's self-esteem and quality of life. There are several options available to treat hair loss, including hair transplant surgery, topical medications, and oral medications. One of the most effective and popular oral medications for preventing hair loss is finasteride, a drug that works by inhibiting the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that is known to cause hair loss.

Finasteride was originally developed as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition that causes enlargement of the prostate gland. During clinical trials, it was observed that finasteride also had a positive effect on hair growth, leading to its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of male pattern baldness in 1997. Finasteride is available under the brand name Propecia and is available in a 1mg tablet.

How does finasteride work?

Male pattern baldness is a hereditary condition that is caused by the sensitivity of hair follicles to DHT, a hormone that is produced from testosterone by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. DHT binds to the hair follicles, causing them to shrink and eventually leading to hair loss. Finasteride works by inhibiting the action of 5-alpha reductase, preventing the conversion of testosterone to DHT. This results in a reduction of DHT levels in the scalp, which in turn prevents hair loss and stimulates hair growth.

Effectiveness of finasteride

The effectiveness of finasteride in preventing hair loss has been extensively studied in numerous clinical trials. The largest and most significant study to date was a five-year study involving 1,553 men with mild to moderate hair loss. The study found that finasteride was highly effective in preventing hair loss, with 83% of the men in the study showing an increase in hair growth initially and a decrease in hair loss. Another study, which was conducted over a period of 10 years, found that the long-term use of finasteride wasn't effective in maintaining hair growth and preventing hair loss in the majority of men who used it.

The effectiveness of finasteride may vary depending on the individual's age, the severity of hair loss, and the duration of use. Studies have shown that finasteride is most effective in preventing hair loss in men under the age of 50 with mild to moderate hair loss. Men with more advanced hair loss may not experience as much benefit from finasteride, and it may not be effective in promoting hair growth in women.

Side effects of finasteride

Like all medications, finasteride can cause side effects in some people.

Sexual side effects

One of the most well-known and common side effects of finasteride is sexual dysfunction. Finasteride works by inhibiting the action of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is responsible for male pattern baldness and BPH. However, DHT also plays a critical role in the development and maintenance of the male sexual organs, including the prostate gland, testes, and penis.

Research has found that finasteride use can lead to sexual side effects such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and decreased semen volume. These side effects may occur in up to 3% of men taking the medication, and they tend to resolve once the medication is discontinued. However, in some cases, the sexual side effects of finasteride may persist even after the medication is stopped, leading to long-term sexual dysfunction.

Mental health effects

There is also evidence to suggest that finasteride may have an impact on mental health. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that men taking finasteride for male pattern baldness were at an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety. The study found that men taking finasteride had a significantly higher risk of depression and anxiety compared to men taking a placebo. While the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between finasteride use and mental health issues, it raises concerns about the potential risks associated with long-term finasteride use.

Breast cancer

There is also some evidence to suggest that finasteride may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men taking finasteride for BPH were at an increased risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer, which is a more aggressive form of the disease. The study also found that men taking finasteride had a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer, although the risk was very small. While the link between finasteride use and breast cancer is not fully understood, it highlights the importance of discussing the potential risks and benefits of finasteride with a healthcare provider.

Birth defects

Another potential danger associated with finasteride use is the risk of birth defects in pregnant women. Finasteride is classified as a pregnancy category X drug, which means it is known to cause birth defects in developing foetuses. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not handle crushed or broken finasteride tablets or come into contact with the semen of men taking finasteride, as this may increase the risk of birth defects.

Liver damage

Finally, there is evidence to suggest that finasteride may cause liver damage in some people. While liver damage is rare, it is a potentially serious side effect that can lead to liver failure and even death. Symptoms of liver damage may include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, and abdominal pain. People taking finasteride should be aware of these symptoms and contact their healthcare provider immediately if they experience them.

Further research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of finasteride.

Dosage and administration of finasteride

Finasteride is available as a 1mg tablet, which is taken once daily. It can be taken with or without food, but should be taken at the same time each day. It is important to


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