Propecia (Finasteride): Are The Side Effects and Costs Worth It?
Are you here because you want to find ways to grow your hair back? You heard of how Propecia can help with your balding issues?
Propecia claims to be a proven method to cure hair loss. Should you still start this regime right now or do you want to find out more about it?
Today, we're going to discuss the important aspects that you must know about Propecia (finasteride). We include clinical research, whether it is safe and personal experiences. So if you're thinking of starting it or have already started, this article will be very useful to you.
We are not medically trained and the information indicated are based on research, personal experiences and should not be taken as advice. Consult your doctor before any decisions made, for or against the use of finasteride.
What is Propecia/Proscar/Finasteride?
Propecia and Proscar belong to the same family. They are just brand names for the generic term, finasteride. So, we're going to use Propecia and finasteride interchangeably in this post.
What does finasteride do?
It is a pill medication to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) and most importantly for you, male pattern baldness (MPB).
For hair loss, it's a 5α-reductase inhibitor which means to stop the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a.k.a a DHT blocker.
It is one of the 2 FDA Approved treatments for androgenetic alopecia. The other being Minoxidil (Rogaine). Propecia gained its FDA-Approval in 1997, so it has been close to 20 years since it has been around. So far, many are still using this small tablet.
Is it time for you to rejoice?
Well, read the whole article and determine for yourself. In any case, there are other methods for you to grow hair as well.
About the Company
The company that manufactured these products is Merck & Co.
For Proscar, its patent expired on 19 Jun 2006 whereas the patent for Propecia has already expired on November 2013. So you can expect generic Propecia or finasteride pills around. They should be significantly cheaper and should contain the same active ingredient.
Propecia vs Proscar
Both contain the same ingredients, finasteride. The difference is in the dosage and their purpose. Proscar contains 5mg and is meant to prevent the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia. On the other hand, Propecia contains 1mg of finasteride and is used for cosmetic reasons to cure hair loss.
As Propecia and Proscar cost almost the same, and both contained the same ingredients but in different dosages, some users have chosen to divide the Proscar pills into 4 or 5 parts, essentially creating 'Propecia'. This method would be a cheaper alternative.
Women and Finasteride
Females should never use Finasteride as it could cause birth defects. Furthermore, it is not FDA-approved for women. This medicine can be absorbed by the skin so women and children should not touch the tablets.
Does Propecia Work
In short, Propecia is proven to work. Here are some of the notable studies that were conducted.
According to the original research done in Oct 1998, two 1-year trials were conducted. A total of 1553 men, aged 18-41 years old, received either 1mg finasteride or a placebo (sham).
What were the results?
There were significant increases in hair count. The placebo participants continued to experience progressive hair loss. Participants who used finasteride commented positively. Adverse effects were minimal.
Before and After Pictures
Many users have used Propecia and gave their reviews, but not many have recorded their before and after pictures diligently.
Here's a video that shows the pictures of a users' scalp over a period of 18 months.
Costs for Propecia or Finasteride
As mentioned before, the costs for the generic finasteride and Propecia can be vastly different.
A quick search on the web shows that the generic version of 1mg could cost $35.26 for 28 tablets (1 month), and Propecia is $62.29.
That's about double the cost for a brand name.
Note that we took these prices online. If you were to get it from your doctor prescription, it could cost roughly $50.61.
These costs are taken only as an illustration. We don't recommend you buying it online or without a prescription. It is illegal and dangerous. There are no guarantees that the pills you buy online are the same ones you get from a doctor. You are not just risking your hair, but your life as well.
So, please consult your doctor.
Always consult your doctor to see whether you're suitable for the medication.
This particular study states that adverse sexual effects occur at rates of 2.1% to 3.8%. The common effect being Erectile Dysfunction (ED). It is followed by Ejaculatory Dysfunction then Low Libido. The report says that these effects occurs early during treatment and stops when treatment is discontinued or over a time of continued use.
On the other hand, there were contrarian reports. These reports state that adverse effects continued despite stopping finasteride. The participants used the hair growth pills for a mean duration use of 28 months, but experienced a mean duration of 40 months of persistent sexual side effects. Although the number of participants in this study is small at 71, this could be something that you should consider.
A video by NBC about Propecia's side effects:
Here's a summary of what the video above is all about:
According to NBC, prolonged use of Propecia can cause sexual dysfunction. These sexual side effects could be permanent. There was a survey done on 54 healthy young men without any health problems.
They took Propecia and 96% of them experienced sexual dysfunction even months after stopping. The side effects were namely low libido and erectile dysfunction.
How Long Does It Take Propecia To Work?
After taking the pills every day, it can take about three months to notice a difference. Stable growth would require 6-12 months.
Propecia Reviews and Personal Experiences
I've personally used Propecia. Back when I was 19 years old, friends commented on my high forehead. I knew that this was a big issue for me at that time, so I approached my local doctor. There were only two items that he recommended: Propecia and Minoxidil.
The doctor clearly outlined the side effects of Propecia and made sure I understood. He gave me Proscar and told me to cut the pills into 4 parts so that it would be affordable in the long run. Perhaps I was young and desperate, and wanted to cure the hair loss as fast as possible and never really thought about the long term effects, so I decided to start the treatment.
I was diligent in using the cut-up pills as directed. Of course, the results took time. You need some patience to see it. It starts with the shedding of hairs with new baby hairs start growing out after a while.
Obviously, I was excited about it. It meant a change in appearance for the better and a potentially full head of hair.
However, something still lurked inside my mind -the side effects that the doctor mentioned.
After a few months of use, I felt some of these side effects. It takes some conscious effort to notice you're experiencing them. I felt a loss in sex drive. I continued for a few more months, then decided to stop. I was supposed to go back to the clinic to collect the next few months' pills, but I didn't.
I didn't want to risk being impotent in the future. Sure, it was hard to let go of a chance for fuller hair, and I had to put aside my ideals of it. It was a choice I made.
Furthermore, I know that the pill will not solve hair loss entirely, it merely slows it down, but you've to be on it for life.
If you're thinking about using Propecia, here are some considerations you need to have.
Are you prepared to shell out at least $45 every month for the rest of your life? That could amount to a small fortune.
Although it is just 1 tablet per day, it can be a hassle. Sometimes you get busy and forget about it.
Once you stop taking the drug, finasteride will not provide you with any more benefits. Thus, you would need to be fully dependent on the drug if you want it to give you hair.
Probability of Impotence (ED)
These sexual side effects are real. It may seem like only a small percentage of less than 4%, but it could very well happen to you. Are you willing to take that risk?
People Around You
When you have females or children around you, you'll need to be very careful on how your tablets are accessible to others. The pills can be absorbed through the skin, so never misplace them.
Physical contact is important in a relationship. With a higher chance of lower sex drive, it may lead to a relationship getting beaten down. Your partner may be thinking why you're not interested in them anymore. I'm exaggerating, but it could very well happen.
Hopefully, the information that we've provided is useful. Yes, Propecia is proven to work.
But are the downsides acceptable to you?
If so, then go ahead and consult your doctor first.
If not, there can be other products and remedies around. And if all treatments do not work, it is not the end.
We advocate confidence no matter what situation you're in, with hair or not. Self-image is a vital aspect.
What are your thoughts? Have you used finasteride before? Tell us your experiences. Were there any side effects for you? We would love to hear from you.