Finasteride for Hair Loss
What’s the best hair loss treatment for men? Talk to anyone that is currently or has already lost some hair and they will tell you it feels like you are fighting a losing battle. Androgenetic alopecia, more commonly referred to as male pattern baldness, affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States¹, and can be extremely detrimental to these individual’s self image and self confidence.
There are some products that claim to work but in reality, nothing you can get from an aisle, over the counter, or online without a prescription is going to make much of a difference at all. Short of hair transplant surgery which is financially impractical for most people, there just aren’t many truly effective treatments to restore hair and prevent further loss. Fortunately, there is a prescription medication that has been clinically proven to aid in stopping hair loss and even has the potential for stimulating hair regrowth. That medication is a relatively simple compound called finasteride. As it often goes, finasteride’s ability to potentiate hair regrowth in men (and women to a lesser extent) suffering from androgenetic alopecia was discovered purely out of happenstance. In the right cases you can even legally buy finasteride online through telehealth websites.
Interest in developing a drug able to remedy the negative effects of DHT (dihydrotestosterone, more on this hormone and its link to hair loss later), go all the way back to the 1970’s. It wasn’t until 1992 however that finasteride was approved for the treatment and prevention of a condition called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH, or simply an enlarged prostate). BPH can be caused by the same hormone (DHT) and similar mechanisms that lead to hair loss. Fast forward half a decade to 1997, when the FDA approved finasteride for the treatment and prevention of male pattern baldness; slow beginnings for a medication that was prescribed to over 10 million people in 2016. But how does it work exactly? That is what is most interesting about finasteride as a compound, its mechanism of action.
Finasteride is technically referred to a competitive and specific inhibitor of Type II 5α-reductase. This means it strategically binds to the enzyme Type II 5α-reductase (enzymes are proteins that work behind the scenes to get things done in your body), and prevents it from doing its job; which happens to be converting testosterone to 5α-dihydrotestosterone or DHT for short. By preventing this enzyme to do its job, you are able to reduce the conversion of testosterone to DHT by up to two-thirds. When excess DHT is circulating your system, it has the ability to bind to and essentially choke or miniaturize hair follicles, preventing their normal growth. The remaining 30% or so that is converted to testosterone is done so by Type I 5α-reductase, another enzyme with an identical function as Type II. But finasteride can’t bind to Type I receptors anywhere near as well as it can Type II. This is important because you don’t want to completely eliminate, as some level of DHT is needed in the body for normal physiological function. DHT is an androgen like testosterone, meaning it contributes to the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics as well as maintaining muscle mass and sexual health as we get older. That is exactly why the specific inhibition aspect of finasteride is so important.
But if DHT is beneficial elsewhere in the body, why does it cause hair loss? Well, that is because there are DHT receptors all over the body, with Type II receptors specifically found primarily in the prostate, hair follicles, seminal vesicles, epididymides, and liver. That is why finasteride is able to specifically target and treat hair loss and has consistently been used for treatment and prevention of BPH. Your susceptibility for hair loss was passed on genetically and is likely due to your specific DHT receptor density in different regions of the body (thanks Mom and Dad). Have a lot of DHT receptors in your scalp? Hair loss is likely in the cards. Family history of prostate issues? You likely have more than the average amount of DHT receptors there. While it’s not quite that simple and there are a lot of other factors that come into play, understanding this individuality is key to realizing why some people lose hair and others don’t.
Does It Really Work?
Treatment and prevention of hair loss is one of those markets that seems to be full of shady companies selling snake oil on late-night television. They show you before and after pictures, playing on your emotions to get you to purchase their products that you hope will bring back that mane you had in high school. Although those products were never going to work, the good news is that finasteride has the research and results to back up its claims. For instance, in 1999 it was concluded that “ finasteride is generally well tolerated and leads to improvements in hair growth in men with [androgenetic alopecia], and slows the further progression of hair loss that occurs without treatment”. More specifically, no further hair loss was observed in 83% of men treated with finasteride after two years and 61% saw regrowth². As always, the degree to which individuals respond to medication of any kind is highly variable, but these numbers are significant. In fact, studies have been conducted up to 5 years proving a net increase in scalp hair count with finasteride use³. Overall, finasteride provides an effective mechanism with which you can battle and reverse hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia. This likely makes it one of the best hair loss treatments for men. It may be tempting to buy finasteride online but use extreme caution. Although it targets the root cause of hair loss with precision, finasteride isn’t without potential side effects.
Potential Downsides of Finasteride Use
When compared to most prescription compounds, finasteride has relatively minimal side effects. That being said, because it is used primarily for cosmetic purposes, its side effects likely deserve to be examined a bit more closely than those of life saving medications. Here are a few of the concerns regarding using finasteride, but keep in mind you will need to consult with a medical professional to get the full picture. In three clinical trials of 12 months, only 1.4% of patients taking Propecia (brand name of finasteride), had to drop out due to adverse experiences⁴. Take into consideration that clinical trials and anecdotal evidence can and often will say two different things. From people in the real world utilizing finasteride, sexual dysfunction is the most common complaint, although statistics on the prevalence of this issue aren’t substantial enough to be definitive. This dysfunction is likely due to its ability to block the conversion of testosterone to DHT, but if you look at the lab results of those taking finasteride, there aren’t many indicators of why this might be occurring. Let’s talk specifics for second. When taken, finasteride quickly reduces serum levels of DHT within 24 hours. However, it doesn’t bind to androgen receptors and has been shown to not meaningfully change luteinizing hormone levels (the initial signal that comes from the pituitary gland telling your testes to produce testosterone). Similarly, it had no effect on levels of cortisol, thyroid-stimulating hormone, thyroxine, plasma lipids, or bone mineral density⁴. Overall, it has little or no impact on hormones other than dihydrotesterone, which as you know is the reason for taking it in the first place.
In the end, you must weigh the pros and cons of utilizing any medication. Taking steps to mitigate potential side effects such as adhering to a generally healthy lifestyle should always be part of a successful treatment plan. Speaking with a medical professional will help you decide if the costs of using finasteride outweigh the potential downfalls. The question is: How much does preventing hair loss or facilitating the regrowth hair already lost matter to you?
Where Can You Get Finasteride?
Finasteride may be the best hair loss treatment for men but use requires a prescription from a medical professional. To buy finasteride online overseas without a prescription is a risky gamble, and with the accessibility of medical professionals now it is one that simply isn’t worth taking. There are businesses that conveniently provide you access to medical advice and prescription from a licensed professional. Telehealth is a newer industry that offers the convenience of medical consultations without the need to visit the doctors office. Patients can get a prescription from the convenience of their own home of office. They can send the patients prescription directly to the pharmacy who can mail it directly to the patient’s home. Truly the only safe way to buy finasteride online. If you are looking for help In the fight against hair loss you don’t have many allies; but finasteride may be just what you need to start fighting back today.
¹ Androgenetic alopecia. Genetics Home Reference, National Library of Medicine. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/androgenetic-alopecia#statistics
² K.D. Kaufman, E.A. Olsen, D. Whiting, et al. “Finasteride in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia”. J Am Acad Dermatol, 39 (1998), pp. 578-589
³ Finasteride Male Pattern Hair Loss Study Group
Long-term (5-year) multinational experience with finasteride 1 mg in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia
J Eur Dermatol, 12 (2002), pp. 38-49
⁴ Propecia. Buy Finasteride Online. RxList. (2018) https://www.rxlist.com/propecia-drug.htm#description