Do Not Take Finasteride Until You Read This
Hair loss can be a very concerning and stressful experience. And often, at times, we tend to get affected by hair loss to such a degree that we accept any and all treatments for hair loss that show even the slightest sliver of hope. This can become so severe that we might start using drugs and medications that arguably do benefit your hair, but come with a lot of side effects.
One such drug is Finasteride. Although showing very promising results in treating hair loss, at least superficially, this drug has many drawbacks. Due to these drawbacks, we caution the use of Finasteride's use for hair loss treatment unless prescribed by your doctor and in extreme conditions. But before we tell you why we're so reluctant towards the use of this drug, let's discuss what it is.
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is a prescription drug that comes both for oral use as a tablet and for topical application. It is a well-known, and arguably very effective DHT inhibitor (more on that later). It is generally available as branded products, namely Proscar and Propecia, but generic Finasteride is also available with less variety of potencies. Proscar is given to patients who suffer from an enlarged prostate (benign prostate hyperplasia) along with other medications. Propecia, on the other hand, is prescribed to treat severe pattern baldness in men.
So How Does Finasteride Work?
Finasteride is one of the best known DHT inhibitors known to medicine. High levels of DHT can cause hair loss and hair thinning, and the enlargement of the prostate. The details of the connection between hair loss and DHT can be found here. Finasteride blocks the action of the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, which converts normal testosterone into a concentrated version known as DHT. By doing so, Finasteride reduces the DHT production in your body and consequently removes all DHT relevant adverse effects on your hair.
But due to its extreme potency in doing precisely this, it can cause a lot of issues for the user and come hand in hand with low levels of DHT. All of which need to be understood before considering Finasteride as your hair loss solution.
Mild Side-Effects of Finasteride
Usually, 1mg of Finasteride is prescribed for daily use to treat extreme pattern baldness. The side-effects of Finasteride are rare, but cannot be overlooked due to their varying severities. In properly conducted research trials, 4-6% of the male subjects under study experienced sexual side effects due to the use of Finasteride. Some milder and more common side-effects of Finasteride are:
· Decreased Libido
· Issues pertinent to erectile dysfunction
· Ejaculation related disorders
· Increase in breast size
· Breast tenderness
· Skin irritation and rash
According to clinical trials, 1.8% of men reported decreased libido, 1.3% experienced problems related to erectile dysfunction, 1.2% experienced a decrease in overall semen production, and less than 1% experienced rashes and breast tenderness.
These side-effects are usually temporary even if they occur and disappear after the use of the medication is stopped. However, in some sporadic cases, Finasteride might also lead to more severe side effects.
Severe Side-Effects of Finasteride
Some severe side-effects are:
· Inflammation in your mouth, lips, throat, or face
· Depression and mental discomfort
· Pain or formation of lumps in your breasts
· Clear or bloody nipple discharge
· Critical reaction with other medication
If ANY of these side-effects are noticed while you are using Finasteride, immediately stop the use of the drug and contact your physician as soon as possible.
One of the most important factors to consider is the interaction of Finasteride with other medications. This can prove extraordinarily troublesome and harmful for you; hence, you must discuss all your prescriptions, supplements, and diet with your physician before starting its use.
Apart from this, certain people might be allergic to Finasteride. The symptoms of Finasteride allergy include breathing issues, swelling of the tongue or throat, and hives. In case of experiencing ANY of these symptoms, contact the emergency services immediately.
People with liver disease should also stay clear of this drug unless their doctor prescribes it after careful examination. Also, individuals with prostate cancer must not use Finasteride as well as this can lead to an increase in the problems.
But as we mentioned earlier, Finasteride is used in both oral and topical treatments. But the topical treatments still come with side-effects. Let us discuss why it is so.
Is Topical Finasteride Completely Safe?
Some people believe that the topical use of Finasteride is entirely safe as it is only applied to the body's surface. But contrary to this belief, even topical application of Finasteride, rather just coming into contact with powdered or damaged Finasteride tablets, can cause potential side-effects.
As for the difference in the results of Finasteride between oral and topical use is that oral Finasteride reduces the serum DHT in your body by 70% and your scalp DHT by 40%, and the topical Finasteride reduces your serum DHT by 25% and your scalp DHT by 50%. Now 25% does seem to be very less as compared to the 70% of the oral Finasteride, but for some individuals, even a decrease of 25% DHT serum levels can cause havoc. Apart from this, with oral Finasteride, the risks of potential side-effects overall (including mild and temporary to severe) are around 2%, while for topical Finasteride, this risk is between 0.7 – 1%, which is less but still not zero.
But up until now, we have only discussed men and the use of Finasteride. Women also suffer from pattern baldness, just like men. However, does Finasteride affect women differently? Let's talk precisely that.
Finasteride for Women
Generally, women are advised to refrain from the use of Finasteride, especially while in the child-bearing years of their lives. It has been observed that even coming into contact with Finasteride can have adverse effects on the female body before menopause. Pregnant women are to remain as far from Finasteride as possible since any contact can lead to malformed male fetuses.
Apart from just the adverse effects, Finasteride use even for women in menopause has seen little to no success when treating any form of hair loss or acne issues. Finasteride 5mg was used for studies and clinical trials for up to 12 months of continuous use in the case of women. According to one study, the side-effects were mild and transient, but about 10-20% of women reported decreased libido after the use of Finasteride 5mg for 12 months, and 10-25% reported headache. Other common side-effects included menstrual irregularities, increased body hair, and dizziness. All of this with next to no efficacy when it came to treating hair loss! Other thorough studies on the effects of Finasteride on women can be found here.
But all that said, Finasteride does work to cure hair loss in men, albeit that it comes with some potentially debilitating side-effects, but even those are rare (less than 2% for oral Finasteride and less than 1% for topical Finasteride). This is proven by the study of 19,000 men who used Finasteride for over 7 years reported no particular side effects or concerns.
There is one primary reason why we do not support the use of Finasteride for hair loss treatment. That is discussed next.
How Effective is Finasteride in Permanently Curing Hair Loss
As discussed earlier, Finasteride is highly effective in treating male pattern baldness, but when it comes to a permanent cure for your hair loss, you will not find it through Finasteride. Finasteride has a very short half-life. Its effects of fighting DHT only last between 5-6 hours after use for men between the age of 18 and 60 and around 8 hours for those above 70. This means that within one week of leaving the drug, your hair will go back to their prior condition as they were before the use of Finasteride.
Hence you'd need to use Finasteride for the rest of your life if you want to preserve the hair you bring back to life through this drug. Think about that for a moment. You will have to succumb to using this drug almost indefinitely otherwise risk shedding hair or losing hair. And in conjunction, you must also bear the weight of potentially incurring additional side-effects. Trading one problem for a host of others doesn't sound like a wise, long-term strategy and gives us pause to reflect and what you risk doing to yourself in the long run (not to mention life-long costs for repeated purchases.) To sum it up, you would need to use the drug for more than 4-6 months to see substantial results, that too CONSISTENTLY, and within a week of not using the drug, you'd lose all your efforts and would have to start from zero.
Finasteride may be an effective DHT inhibitor, as is evidenced by Finastride's clinical studies. However, its side-effects and drawbacks can potentially outweigh its advantages in the long-run. Essentially, you will become addicted to the drug to keep your hair from falling out, or thinning, etc. And as soon as you stop using the drug, all the efforts can disappear in a snap.
With so many other natural and safer ways out there to help you get the hair you truly deserve we recommend you exploring those alternatives first. You may be surprised that you can actually attain much better results with all-natural remedies, vitamins, shampoos, and changes to your diet that will naturally nourish, and stimulate hair growth, prevent further hair loss, thicken and improve your hair health overall. The best part? These results are natural, don't have the same exposure to adverse side-effects, you do not have to use them indefinitely, improve other aspects of your health in general, and are far less expensive than being prescribed to a life-long prescription. The choice is yours.
In the end, it is up to you whether the drawbacks outweigh the advantages of using Finasteride. All we can recommend is to do your research, think twice before using it, and never hesitate to attain a proper prescription or seek advice from your dermatologist or physician.