Everything you need to know about Propecia (Finasteride)
With the discovery that hair loss prevention (using agents like finasteride before hair loss is seen) is much more effective than hair loss treatment, the need to full study the effects (and side effects) of these drugs become more important. In this article, we will explore everything known about finasteride to date.
Finasteride was first approved by the FDA in 1992 for treatment of men with enlarged prostates. Then in 1997 it was approved for treatment of hair loss in men.
How does finasteride work?
If you are familiar with my previous articles, you will know that testosterone has by products which include oestrogen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT shrinks hair follicles eventually resulting in hair loss. The enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT is call 5-alpha reductase. Finasteride works by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase and thus reducing the levels of DHT (65% reduction in 24 hours after taking 1mg). Low levels of DHT means hair loss should stop.
In other articles we speak about a steroid being androgenic, meaning it causes hair loss, oily skin, clitoral enlargement (women), facial hair growth (women) deepening of the voice (women) and acne. Finasteride will reduce the androgenicity of steroids, however, it only works on hair follicles and the prostate. Therefore, it can reduce facial hair growth in women, but it does not reduce oily skin and acne experienced from steroids.
Finasteride is very selective and specific, which means it works where it needs to work and does not affect other systems.
Does finasteride have side effects?
There are many side effects of finasteride use. This is what has deterred many from proceeding with its use. Of large to concern to males is sexual side effects. The prevalence is only 8%. It might cause reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, orgasm issues and sometimes depression. The issue is these side effects may remain for a long period after stopping the drug or remain indefinitely. Other symptoms include gynecomastia and breast tenderness.
There is a warning with finasteride which states it must not be used in pregnancy. One might think that this is ridiculous because a someone who is pregnant should have no need of using finasteride. The issue is that finasteride can be absorbed through the skin and therefore pregnant women should not be handling finasteride pills. Furthermore, finasteride passes into the semen and therefore sexual intercourse could possibly result in a woman absorbing finasteride. This is still under research. If finasteride is absorbed by someone who is pregnant, this will cause developmental issues for a developing male foetus.
How do you use finasteride?
The doses of finasteride differ depending on i ts intended purpose. For treatment of hair loss, 1 mg a day is used. For prostate enlargement, 5mg a day tends to be used.
For bodybuilders looking to reduce the androgenicity of the steroids they are using, 1 mg a day is used for the duration of the cycle. The issue is that DHT aids in muscle growth and thus you might be limiting potential gains when using this drug. Therefore, it should be used when necessary.
This is everything you need to know about Finasteride (Propecia).