By the age of 35, around 40% of men will experience noticeable hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) accounts for 95% of men’s hair loss. Finasteride is an FDA-approved oral medication used for the treatment of male pattern baldness at the crown and top of the scalp. The medication does not affect hair growth on other parts of the body. It is not recommended for women and should only be used by adult men. Finasteride supports hair growth by blocking DHT production. It is sold under several brand names, including Proscar® and Propecia®.
How Finasteride Works
Finasteride inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha reductase from converting testosterone to DHT. As hair loss is linked to the effects of DHT, finasteride can reverse the process. In a finasteride study, 1,500 men with male pattern baldness were treated with a 1 mg dose of finasteride over a period of two years, and over 60% of the participants saw a reduction of hair loss and an increase in hair growth in that time period.
If you are considering taking finasteride to support healthy hair growth, then you should first consult your doctor to make sure it is a suitable medication for you. You will need a prescription from your doctor for this medication. The round, blue, film-coated tablets come in 1 mg. and 5 mg. strengths. Typically, the dose for male pattern baldness is 1 mg. orally once a day.
Finasteride Possible Side Effects and Contraindications
Finasteride may cause the following side effects:
- Impotence and/or loss of interest in sex
- Reduction in the production of semen
- Swelling in hands or feet
- Weakness or fainting
- Skin rash
- Runny nose
In some circumstances, the sexual side effects of taking finasteride may continue after you stop taking it. If you experience any of these side effects, or you are concerned about your sexual health, talk to your physician as soon as possible. Currently, no interactions with other medications have been reported.
There is currently no available information about the effects of a finasteride overdose, though clinical studies show that single doses of up to 400 mg. a day and multiple doses of 80 mg. a day did not cause any adverse reactions. If you have an overdose of finasteride, you should seek medical advice straight away.
Natural Alternatives to Propecia
While finasteride may not be suitable for everyone, the cost may also be a contributing factor. The price range for Propecia is between $70 and $75 per month, and is not covered by health insurance. If you prefer a natural alternative for hair growth support, consider the following supplements.
Natural DHT Blockers: An example of a natural DHT blocker is Saw Palmetto, which is an extract from the fruit of the Serenoa repens tree and can be taken in supplement form. One study found that 38% of men taking saw palmetto had an improvement for androgenetic alopecia compared to 68% of men taking finasteride. Side effects of saw palmetto may include dizziness, nausea, and constipation.
Biotin: Biotin helps strengthen the structure of hair and reduce thinning or hair loss. It is also beneficial for improving hair that has been damaged by the sun’s UVA rays or harsh chemicals in hair color and styling products. Biotin is found in foods such as carrots, nuts, and avocados. It can also be taken as a supplement. The recommended daily value is 300mcg. Supplements come in doses up to 5,000 mcg. Biotin has not been associated with any side effects. The body is able to tolerate high doses of biotin because it is a water-soluble vitamin that is easily excreted via urine.
Zinc: Zinc is an important mineral for healthy hair, and a zinc deficiency can contribute to hair loss. Daily supplementation with zinc supports healthy hair growth. The recommended dosage is 40 mg. per day. Overdoses may result in nausea, indigestion, and heartburn.
Topical Combinations with Propecia
Topical minoxidil, in combination with finasteride, can increase the beneficial results. Minoxidil is an FDA-approved topical solution used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. It can be used as a foam or serum to support healthy hair growth and is rubbed onto the scalp where hair is thinning. It is thought to function by promoting the supply of blood and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. Side effects may include skin irritation at the site of application.
If you are experiencing hair thinning, then consider changing your hair care routine. Avoid using shampoos and conditioners containing harsh chemicals, limit your use of styling tools such as hair driers and curling irons, and consider taking a nutritional supplement. To get the best results, it’s important to combine a balanced diet with a healthy hair care routine. Stay informed about the latest tips for hair health to keep your hair looking vibrant and growing strong.