Approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
Initially this medication was – and continues to be – used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in 5mg concentrations under the name of Proscar. During the treatment, it was observed that one side effect was an increase in hair growth and a slowing of hair loss, in addition to other less significant effects. It was found that 1mg concentrations produced the same beneficial effects.
It is known that androgenic alopecia is a process of miniaturisation and progressive weakening of the hair, caused by sensitivity to the action of the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) in hair follicles. DHT is a byproduct of testosterone, which is present in all humans. To have DHT in the body, testosterone must be converted through a chemical reaction, which requires the help of the type-2 5alpha-reductase enzyme.
The utility of Finasteride in the treatment of androgenic baldness comes from the fact that this drug selectively inhibits the type-2 5alpha-reductase enzyme, decreasing the amount of DHT available in the body. Thus, it is theoretically possible to stop the process of hair loss and miniaturisation. Inhibition of the enzyme does not occur in 100% of the cases, but it is often possible to stabilise baldness.
In one study it was found that this medication is effective in 83% of patients, slowing down the progression of baldness.
The side effects of the drug occur more frequently only during the use of the medication. Therefore, when treatment is stopped for 6 months or more, hair loss will continue. If patients experience any kind of side effects, these will also probably disappear when they stop the medication.
Side effects are usually related to sexual libido, such as a decrease in sexual desire, decreased sperm count or low volume of semen ejaculated. These effects occur in a small percentage in men and a strong emotional component may be involved. In scientific studies, 1.8% of men who took Finasteride complained of decreased of libido, while 1.3% of those who used the placebo also did so. Anyway, even if libido seems to decrease with the continuation of the treatment, this change disappears completely after the interruption.
Typically, the patient begins to notice beneficial effects on the hair after 4-6 months of treatment. Firstly, there is a loss of hair, then there is an increase in hair density. After approximately one year of continuous and daily treatment, the patient reaches the maximum hair density and then begins a maintenance phase.
The vital importance of medical consultation before starting a treatment with Finasteride cannot be overstated. It is only the doctor who, through a detailed clinical examination and sometimes with the help of analysis can assess a particular case and determine if Finasteride is a good option for you.
The Finasteride acts on the root of the problem, since it inhibits the production of the type-2 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, preventing that some testosterone is transformed into dihydrotestosterone. Approximately six months of treatment are needed to start seeing results.