What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a man- made drug, which impedes the hormones that turn testosterone into dehydrotestosterone. It is used as a treatment for enlarged prostate and pattern balding, which are thought to be caused by the conversion of testosterone.

What is the History of Finasteride?

Finasteride was originally used in the 1970 s for the treatment of prostatic hyperplasia, which is a non- cancerous condition also known as an enlarged prostate. It was used to improve symptoms such as frequent urination throughout the night, problems urinating, the inability to start urinating, and a lack of urinary flow. It was found that patients who also suffered from pattern balding also found that they had slight hair re- growth whilst taking the medication.

How Was Finasteride Found?

Finasteride was studied as a hair loss treatment in men who had moderate baldness. The study over five years concluded that two thirds of the patients experienced some hair growth when taking a daily dose of finasteride. It was also found that around three quarters of the patients suffered no further hair loss although some did not have any re- growth.

What Are the Brand Names of Finasteride?

Finasteride is marketed by different companies, which use different brand names to sell the drug. The only drug that is approved by the FDA for the treatment of pattern baldness is Propecia, which comes in 1 mg doses as opposed to the 5 mg dose used to treat enlarged prostate.

All brands of finasteride contain the same drug and need to pass safety tests to be marketed. This means that cheaper brands are just as effective as Propecia but you should make sure that you do not exceed the dose recommended to you by a professional.

What Are the Forms of Finasteride?

Finasteride comes in several forms ranging from oral medication to shampoo. Finasteride pills are the most common form of treatment for pattern balding. The dosage for cosmetic use is 1 mg a day although some people chose to buy larger doses and split the pills into 1 mg sections. The oral drug is believed by some to be more effective although other studies show that topical forms of the drug are just as effective.

Finasteride is also available as a gel although the results of this are debateable. Whilst studies in Iran concluded that, it was effective many UK based doctors argue that it does not work, as it is unable to produce systematic results. If considering finasteride gel it may be worth talking to your GP about its effectiveness.

Finasteride is sold as a cream or shampoo although the effectiveness of this is also dubious. Studies concluding that topical finasteride is effective are criticised by doctors as being too limited in terms of the number of people involved and the time scale.

How Does Finasteride Work?

Finasteride works by preventing testosterone from being converted into dehydrotestosterone, which attacks the hair follicles causing baldness. It does this by preventing the testosterone from binding with the enzyme 5- alpha reductase, which converts the testosterone.

Once the reduction of dehydrotestosterone has occurred the hair follicles return to their normal size. This can either prevent further hair loss or cause hair to re- grow in the areas where it was once lost.

If finasteride treatment is successful, you will need to continue taking it for life, as once you stop the treatment the results will be reversed.

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