This article aims to provide an introduction to the hair loss medication Propecia and to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about this popular treatment.
What is Propecia?
To put it simply, Propecia stops the body converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is what causes hair follicles to shrink and ultimately to stop functioning. The way Propecia works is by blocking the DHT and stopping the hair follicles shrinking, which prevents additional hair loss occurring.
Propecia is effective in around 90% of men who take it and who are experiencing mild or moderate hair loss beforehand. It has been shown to be most effective when it is taken for a period of at least 12 months, and preferably longer.
Male pattern baldness
Propecia is a clinically proven medication that is used to treat male pattern baldness, which is an extremely common condition leading to the hair on the scalp thinning over time. Typical male pattern baldness results in a receding hairline or loss of the hair on the top of the head. Propecia should only be used by men, as it is unsuitable for women and children who may be experiencing hair loss.
Male pattern baldness is usually genetic and can start as young as during the teenage years. This can greatly affect the confidence of the individual and can cause depression in some cases. Propecia is clinically proven to reduce hair loss and many men who have taken part in clinical trials experienced new hair growth after remaining on the treatment for longer periods. Despite Propecia’s positive effects, it rarely leads to all the hair growing back.
How do I take it?
You will need to take a Propecia tablet once a day for the duration of your treatment. Treatment is required to be continuous to see ongoing results and Propecia should start working immediately. Many men see results in around three months from when they first start taking the medication. If you stop taking the medication, however, the pattern of hair loss will begin again. Over time any results achieved will start to go into reverse and hair loss will gradually increase. Most hair will be lost within 12 months after the medication is stopped.
How to buy it?
Propecia is not currently available from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the reason being that the NHS considers Propecia a cosmetic medication. If you are interested in beginning a course of Propecia, you will need to arrange a private prescription. Propecia is widely available from a number of retailers and chemists in the UK and reputable sellers will first need to check that it is suitable for your needs and that there will be no likely problems with you taking it.
When should I start taking Propecia?
The best time to begin taking a course of Propecia is when you first start noticing hair loss. If you are starting to see the signs of male pattern baldness, this is probably a good time to look into being prescribed Propecia. Although Propecia can lead to new hair growth, it does not replace all the lost hair. Generally speaking, the sooner you start taking this medication, the better the results will be. If you delay starting to take Propecia until you are experiencing more moderate hair loss, you may still see improvements; however, studies have shown that you will not catch up with the level of hair retention displayed by patients who started taking Propecia at the first signs of male pattern baldness.
What are the side effects?
Although Propecia has a very good medical safety profile, some users do experience side effects, as is the case with most medicines. A small number of men experience a decreased libido when taking Propecia.
Does Propecia affect hair in places other than on the scalp?
Propecia has not been proven to have any effect on hair growing in places other than on the scalp.
Does Propecia work for everyone who takes it?
Some experts believe it does work for any man who takes it and is experiencing mild to moderate male pattern baldness. Studies have shown that some men see more dramatic results than others when they start a course of Propecia, but the reasons for this are not yet known. There have not been any studies conducted that demonstrate any difference between the medication’s effects on different ethnic groups.
How effective is Propecia?
Propecia is generally believed to be more effective at achieving hair re-growth in some areas of the scalp than in others; for example, some experts believe it is most effective at preventing hair loss on the back of the scalp. One study revealed that 66% of men in trials experienced re-growth in this area, while 99% experienced no further loss of hair from this area after two years.
Propecia does not appear to be as effective on the area of the middle of the scalp as it is at the back of the head. Despite this, studies have shown that 42% of men still experienced some re-growth in this area, while 95% did not experience any more hair loss after a period of two years.
Can older men benefit from taking it?
Although Propecia appears to be most effective among the 18- to 41-year-old age bracket, plenty of older men have taken Propecia with positive results. A study of men aged between 42 and 60 found that 94% experienced improvements in their hair loss or stayed the same after two years of taking Propecia. Of this 94%, 39% experienced definite improvements.
How long does Propecia take to work?
Once you start taking a course of Propecia the medication gets to work immediately and begins to prevent the production of DHT almost right away. As hair grows at a slow pace, however, it will take a while to see visible results. Most men in trials have started to see reduced hair loss after around three months. The process is a long but steady one in most cases, with dramatic results visible after two years in many men.
see below a list of great resources if you are looking to start taking Propecia
UK Finasteride Prescriptions – Information from Spex Hair on Finasteride Prescriptions in the UK.