Finasteride for Hair Loss

Finasteride was originally created as a medication for prostate cancer. Some men taking it for their prostates noticed that it had the positive side affect of producing thicker hair and it was soon tested as a hair loss drug to slow the advances of male-patterned baldness. It has not been marketed to help women’s hair loss, however, because it affects a form of the male-hormone testosterone. Male- and female- patterned baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is caused when androgen enzymes convert testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  DHT is present in both men and women, but is more prevalent in men because men tend to produce more testosterone and thus suffer from androgenetic alopecia more often than women. Finasteride limits the amount of androgens your body produces so the creation of DHT is slowed and the DHT which would have shrunk your hair follicles is no longer a threat to your hair growth. Thus, the hair thinning process is slowed.

Finasteride is a pill taken orally once a day. It may take at least three months to see any improvement or regrowth. If you stop taking this medication, the balding process will resume and any hair regrowth will cease after 12 months. If your follicles have not been exposed to DHT for a long period of time when you begin taking Finasteride, you are more likely to have hair regrowth in bald areas because the follicles are not completely dead. However, hair regrowth is not a guarantee with finasteride. If you have taken finasteride for a period of 12 months without any improvement then continuing to take the medication will probably not show any results. 

The brand name for finasteride as a hair loss medication is Propecia®. 

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