Is Minoxidil Better than Finasteride?

This is an interesting question as the two drugs have been in competition since Finasteride came onto the market in 1997. Before comparing the two we need to look at Finasteride and answer a few questions. Finasteride was, like Minoxidil, originally designed to treat another problem; in this case benign prostatic hyperplasia. It was deemed safe for use in 1992 and was developed into a hair loss cure in 1997. It should be noted, though, that while it has been accepted as a safe method of hair regrowth for men, it is not prescribed for hair loss in women. Its chemical structure, similar to Minoxidil, is C23H36N2O2. It has been shown to be effective in two out of three men during its trials, having the best results when taken for the thinning of hair on the crown.

The Science behind Finasteride

Finasteride works on the hormones rather than on the hair follicles; testosterone is turned into dihydrotestosterone by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Finasteride works by blocking the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Finasteride when being used as a hair loss cure normally goes under the name Propecia (Proscar being the name when it is being used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia). It is distributed in 1mg pill form, usually taken daily. Despite this, however, like Minoxidil, once you have started to take the drug you must continue to take it indefinitely otherwise any benefits gained will be lost within a few months.

Differences between Minoxidil and Finasteride

There are two main differences between Minoxidil and Finasteride. The first is that, unlike Minoxidil, in the UK you will need a prescription before you can buy Finesteride, and the second is that it is taken orally in pill form rather than as a solution or foam. It is important that you remember that like Minoxidil, you should not handle a broken Finasteride pill if you are pregnant as it is also known to cause birth defects. The side effects of Finasteride can also be more severe with more of them being linked to sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction, impotence, and testicular pain.

Effectiveness compared to Minoxidil

Now that you know what Finasteride is, we need to look at whether Minoxidil is more or less effective than it. It is believed that Finasteride is the more potent drug (hence the increased problem of side effects), which is why in the UK it is only available with a prescription. In clinical trials involving both Finasteride and Minoxidil, Finasteride worked in around 80% of cases, compared to Minoxidil working at around 52%. If taken alone, then, Finasteride is the better drug to take, though many people advocate using them both, dubbing them the 'dynamic duo'. It must be stressed, though that doctors warn against starting off like this; before mixing them together you should use Minoxidil on its own for at least six months before considering using Minoxidil and Finasteride together.

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