What is Propecia?
Propecia (Finasteride) belongs to the group of medication known as 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors. It is used to treat male pattern baldness by preventing the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase from converting testosterone to its active form in the body – dihydrotestosterone or DHT.
DHT plays a major role in inherited male pattern baldness, and by preventing its production. Finasteride can stimulate hair growth in many men with mild-to-moderate inherited male pattern baldness. The medication usually starts to work within 3 months of beginning treatment. Its effectiveness varies among men. It prevents further hair loss and promotes some growth of new hair. In general, however, it will not be possible to grow back all the hair that has been lost. The new hair will stay for only one year after the medication has been stopped.
How does Propecia work?
Finasteride is successful in preventing male-pattern baldness due to its ability to specifically inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into a more potent androgen dihydrotestosterone or DHT.
Propecia’s 1 mg dose of finasteride can effectively lower DHT levels in the scalp by as much as 60% when taken daily. It is DHT that shrinks or miniaturizes the hair follicle, which eventually leads to baldness. The 60% reduction in DHT has proven to stop the progression of hair loss in 86% of men taking the drug during clinical trials. 65% trial participants had what was considered a substantial increase of hair growth.
Lowering the DHT levels is the only proven way of arresting the hair loss process. Finasteride is recommended to be the first line of attack for all men interested in treating their male pattern baldness.
What are the benefits of using Propecia?
The main benefit of using Propecia is to stop the progression of male pattern baldness. The other benefit is the significant hair growth in most men who used this medication.
How do I use Propecia?
The recommended dose of Propecia is to take 1 mg daily taken at the same time of each day, with or without food. It is important that Propecia be taken on a regular basis for it to be effective.
If your doctor has recommended a different dose from the recommended dose, it is because of your body weight and other medical conditions. Do not change the way you are taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
You should take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Do not dispose of this medication in wastewater or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
The usual dose of Propecia is one tablet daily taken at about the same time of each day. Do not take more than one tablet of Propecia in a 24-hour period unless specifically ordered by your doctor.
Side effects & precautions
Medicines and their possible side effects affect individual users differently. Not everyone who uses Propecia will experience the possible side effects.
The following are the common side effects of Propecia:
- Decreased amount of semen
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced sexual interest
Most of the side effects don’t happen very often, but they could lead to serious problems. Seek medical attention or consult your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Breast enlargement, tenderness, lumps, or nipple discharge
- Pain in the testicles
Stop taking Propecia and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following will occur:
- Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, itchiness, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or face.
Propecia should not be taken by a man who is allergic to it or any of its inactive ingredients. Propecia should not be taken by a child or by a woman.
Before you start taking Propecia, inform your doctor of your medical conditions and the allergies that you might have.
Male breast cancer has been reported in a small number of people taking finasteride. It is known with certainty if finasteride can cause breast cancer but the possibility cannot be ruled out. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any pain or enlargement in your breast, lumps, or nipple discharge.
Prostate cancer may be linked with an increased risk of developing a rare type of high-grade prostate cancer, the risk of which is still considered very small. Propecia is not an approved treatment for prostate cancer.
Propecia should be used with caution by people with impaired liver function. Discuss with your doctor how Propecia may affect your medical condition.
Finasteride is absorbed into the system of a pregnant woman. The medication may cause abnormalities of the genitals in a male baby. Crushed or broken finasteride tablet should not be handled by women who may become pregnant because the medication may be absorbed into the system through the skin.
Finasteride should not be used by children. In the same light, a breastfeeding mother should not handle finasteride because it will pass into the breast milk.
Share with your doctor a list of all the medications you are currently taking or have recently taken. Tell your doctor also if you use caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine from cigarettes or street drugs. They can affect how your medications work.
Discuss with your doctor the risk of interaction between the medications you are taking and Propecia.