The Pros and Cons of Hair Loss Medication, including the Side Effects

Hair Loss medication is very popular and there are many reviews on the internet but what’s the real truth behind them? Are they worth it? What about side effects? We help answer some of the important questions about hair loss medications in this blog post.

Countless thousands of people are on the two main types of hair loss medications: minoxidil (brand names include Regaine) and finasteride (brand names include Propecia) happily and successfully. However, as with any medication, there are pros and cons, including potential side effects, you should be aware of before getting a prescription. One of the most talked about issues with hair loss medication involves finasteride’s reported side effects, which include sexual dysfunction in a small number of people taking it. We wanted to clear up the facts and myths surrounding this issue and offer our advice.

Finasteride available at The Private Clinic of Harley Street

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a medication that is ingested and it is used to prevent the formation and effects of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) – the big reason behind male pattern baldness. DHT is formed from testosterone – a hormone associated with male characteristics.  DHT is involved in the process of ‘miniaturisation’ – where the hair and hair follicle becoming increasingly smaller and thinner until some of the hair follicles stop working altogether, hence male pattern baldness.  Finasteride is technically a 5α-reductase (an enzyme) inhibitor that blocks this enzyme from converting testosterone into DHT.

Sex

Lots of research is taking place into the side effects of the medication. Data from 6 Propecia trials indicated that between 6-8% of recipients experienced erectile dysfunction. 14% of cases from FDA data from 1998-2011 reported persistent sexual dysfunction but the FDA made it clear this is not an established causal link, as there could be a number of reasons why these recipients experienced such issues.

Alcohol

Studies are pointing to some evidence that taking finasteride decreases the desire for alcohol or the ability to handle alcohol as well as before, thus reducing consumption. Research into this is still being conducted. It is not currently considered a treatment for excessive alcohol intake.

Is Finasteride Worth It?

Pros

  • Effective management of male pattern baldness
  • Easy to take and get with a prescription
  • One of very few medications with a lot of research into its effectiveness

Cons

  • Reported side effects must be considered before taking it as potential side effects include sexual dysfunction which may be persistent (i.e. continue after taking the medication for a period of time)

What Other Options Are There?

  • A trip to your GP – an essential first step for all medical issues. Your GP might not be able to help you directly but it’s important to get an initial opinion. For instance, some treatments we offer are unsuitable for people on certain medications or your hair loss could be the result of an underlying health condition.
  • Hair Loss Therapy – there are devices such as laser combs which can help boost the health of the hair follicle.
  • Hair Transplants – advanced FUE hair transplants are minimally invasive permanent hair restoration procedures, performed under local anaesthetic and suitable for men and women.
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