What is Propecia? Is it effective?

If you are experiencing hair loss, the first step is to determine the root cause of the hair loss and then to begin exploring possible treatment options under the supervision of a licensed medical professional. Hair loss can make you lose confidence in your physical appearance and can add a level of stress to your life that only intensifies the hair loss. While it may seem an impossible situation to be in, there a number of different options that you can utilize to attempt to regrow your lost hair and regain confidence in your physical appearance. The available treatment options are largely dependent on the type of hair loss, the cause of the hair loss, and severity of the hair loss. For men suffering from male pattern baldness, one treatment option is utilizing a prescription for Propecia, which is also known under the name Finasteride, which is generic Propecia. To help give you an understanding of this treatment option, we have put together an overview of what male pattern baldness is and how professionals understand Propecia hair loss treatment, Propecia side effects, and Propecia results.

An Introduction to Male Pattern Baldness

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To understand how Propecia works in treating male pattern baldness, it is important to have a foundational understanding of what male pattern baldness is and why it causes hair loss. Male pattern baldness is a form of androgenetic alopecia. Many people do not realize that male pattern baldness is the cause of hair loss for more than ninety-five percent of men suffering from hair loss. By the time American men reach the age of thirty-five, two-thirds will be experiencing some degree of appreciable hair loss. By the time American men reach the age of fifty, eighty-five percent will be experiencing significant hair loss or hair thinning. On average, twenty-five percent of men that suffer from male pattern baldness begin experiencing hair loss prior to the age of twenty-one. Male pattern baldness is extremely widespread and affects a significant portion of the male population. Male pattern baldness not only affects a huge number of men each year, it also constitutes a monumental shift in many men’s perception of themselves once it begins to appear.

While there is a strong societal belief that men affected by male pattern baldness are not adversely affected, just because male pattern baldness is not life threatening does not mean that it does not have other effects. Male pattern baldness can inspire feelings of deep unhappiness, self-consciousness, and uncertainty in the men it affects. Men affected by male pattern baldness often desperately seek a treatment that will help to reverse their hair loss, often to limited success. Male pattern baldness has the ability to change the way men are perceived in their platonic, romantic, and professional lives, whether consciously or unconsciously. Experiencing the significant hair loss or hair thinning that characterizes male pattern baldness can be detrimental to some men’s self-esteem and can have a negative impact on their overall health and well-being. The effect of male pattern baldness is dependent on the individual man and his personality, social situation, and a myriad of other factors. With the severity of this type of hair loss in mind, it is now possible to examine the various causes of male pattern baldness.

The Causes of Male Pattern Baldness

In order to understand how Propecia works to treat and reverse male pattern baldness, it is vital to know the potential causes of male pattern baldness. There are a number of different reasons that an individual may lose their hair, including as a reaction to a stressful event or events, as a side effect of a serious disease, or as a side effect of certain types of medications. However, the most common reason men begin to exhibit hair loss due to male pattern baldness is based on their heredity. Male pattern baldness is due to the inheritance of hair follicles that have an inherent genetic sensitivity to dihydrotestoterone (DHT). When a hair follicle is sensitive to DHT, it will begin to miniaturize. This process of miniaturization significantly reduces the lifespan of each hair follicle that is affected. At some point, the affected hair follicles will stop producing new hairs, which leads to hair thinning or the appearance of a bald spot. Male pattern baldness is most often recognized by the onset of a receding hairline or a thinning or loss of hair on the crown of the head. After analyzing the appearance of male pattern baldness, it appears that hair on the mid-anterior scalp and the temples are most sensitive to DHT. The original appearance of hair loss due to male pattern baldness often worsens as time goes on, sometimes leaving only a horseshoe pattern of hair remaining once it has reached advanced stages. With this understanding of how male pattern baldness is caused in mind, it is now possible to analyze how Propecia works to treat male pattern baldness.

An Overview of DHT and How Propecia Works to Treat Male Pattern Baldness

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DHT is central to both the cause of male pattern baldness and how Propecia works to treat this hair loss. DHT is a derivative or byproduct of testosterone. With the aid of enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, testosterone is successfully converted into DHT. Unfortunately, the entirety of the genetic process that causes the onset of male pattern baldness is not yet understood, but it has been discovered that DHT causes the miniaturization, or shrinkage, of the hair follicles. It has also been concluded that if suppression of DHT occurs, hair follicles will continue to grow and thrive rather than shrinking. It is important to keep in mind that the miniaturization of hair follicles due to exposure to DHT is a process that occurs over time, and that for this process to reach completion a significant amount of time must elapse. This means that there is time in which the proper intervention and treatment can slow, and in some cases even reverse, hair loss or hair thinning due to male pattern baldness. Propecia works to promote new hair growth and stop the onset of hair loss and hair thinning by preventing the conversion of testosterone to DHT before it can occur. Propecia acts as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. It is important to note that a doctor’s prescription is required to be able to take Propecia and that the most common dosage prescribed is 1-mg tablets to combat hair loss. Propecia can be taken with or without food. It usually takes three months of daily, consistent use of Propecia to begin to see the benefits appear. If treatment is stopped, a reversal of the effects of Propecia will occur within twelve months. Propecia is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of hair loss.

Propecia Side Effects

Although Propecia has shown to be successful for some men in treating male pattern baldness, which is also routinely referred to as androgenetic alopecia, it does have a number of side effects that have been associated with it. These unwanted side effects may affect the happiness or satisfaction men experience with the results of the treatment. Below are the side effects associated with Propecia broken into three distinct groupings:  common symptoms, less common symptoms, and rare symptoms. If you begin experiencing any side effects as a result of taking Propecia, it is important to speak with a medical professional to make sure that they do not warrant further treatment or immediate cessation of the use of Propecia.

Common Symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness when arising from a sitting or lying position
  • Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • Loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • Inability to have or maintain an erection

Less Common Symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Sleepiness
  • Unusual drowsiness
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Skin rash
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Redness of the skin
  • Tingling of the hands or feet
  • Unusual weight gain or loss
  • Swelling of the lips and face
  • Itchy skin
  • Hives or welts
  • Bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet

Rare Symptoms:

  • Testicular pain
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased amount of semen
  • Abdominal or stomach pain

The appearance of some of the most common symptoms will likely go away as the treatment continues. This is often because your body is not yet adjusted to the medication being in its system, but as it adjusts the symptoms will dissipate. In addition, your doctor will be able to consult with you about any steps or actions that can be taken to prevent or reduce the appearance of side effects, particularly during the transitional period during which your body adjusts to the Propecia. It is important to immediately reach out to your doctor if you begin to feel uncomfortable or bothered with any side effects that arise so that they can assess whether or not any further measures must be taken to make Propecia work for you.

An Important Note Regarding Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Levels

Before beginning treatment using Propecia for male pattern baldness, it is important to speak with your prescribing medical professional about the precautions that must be taken regarding your Prostate-Specific Antigen levels. Medical professionals monitor the Prostate-Specific Antigen levels in men to determine whether or not they may have prostate cancer, which is common among men, particularly as they age. If the Prostate-Specific Antigen level exceeds 4.0ng/mL, many medical professionals will request a prostate biopsy to check for the presence of prostate cancer. This is important to keep in mind for those considering taking Propecia as it is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, which can reduce serum Prostate-Specific Antigen levels by approximately fifty percent, even when prostate cancer is present. This makes it vital that you and your doctor discuss how your will monitor and interpret Prostate-Specific Antigen levels when taking Propecia. Before you begin taking Propecia, it is vital to weigh the risk of developing prostate cancer without it being detected against the potential benefits of reducing or reversing hair loss or hair thinning due to male pattern baldness.

Tips for Treating Hair Loss or Hair Thinning Due to Male Pattern Baldness

For some individuals, treating hair loss using Propecia may risk too many side effects or may present too great a risk of developing prostate cancer without being able to detect it using standard Prostate-Specific Antigen level tests. It is important to keep in mind that this is not the only treatment option available for those suffering from hair loss or hair thinning due to male pattern baldness. Propecia is one viable treatment option, but it is only one of many that exist. Below are a handful of tips for treating hair loss or hair thinning due to male pattern baldness to keep in mind before selecting the right treatment option for you.

  • Explore Possible Underlying Causes: While male pattern baldness is extremely common and most often genetic, before committing to a treatment option it is important to explore other possible causes of the hair loss or hair thinning to ensure that the treatment method is well-suited for the type of hair loss. To do this, consult a medical professional and undergo any tests they recommend to see whether or not the hair loss or hair thinning is caused by an undiagnosed disease or infection, hormonal imbalance, extreme stress, or dietary deficiency.
  • Try a Proven-Effective Regiment for Reversing Hereditary Hair Loss: While Propecia may work well for some individuals, it also carries with it a significant number of potential side effects and interacts with Prostate-Specific Antigen levels in a way that can mask the development of prostate cancer. Before trying Propecia, it is important to research other potential treatment options for male pattern baldness. Scalp Med is a proven-effective regimen for male and female hair loss that halts and reverses hereditary hair loss using a unique two-step process. The Scalp Med process uses NutriSol® to create the ideal environment for hair regrowth and Vitadil®, which is the only FDA-approved ingredient clinically proven to regrow hair. Unlike Propecia, Scalp Med does not cause sexual side effects. Using Scalp Med, over ninety-five percent of users saw remarkable hair growth in six months.

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