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Propecia (Finasteride)

The drug Propecia (FDA approval in 1997) has been shown to slow down or stop hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. It does so by inhibiting an enzyme called 5-Alpha Reductase, which is responsible for the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. The working theory is that most, if not all, hair loss due to male pattern baldness is a result of DHT binding to its receptors on susceptible follicles and inhibiting their growth. Since DHT receptors are mostly found on follicles on the top of the head, this is the area where the DHT causes the hair to fall out. Propecia lowers the total body DHT levels; thereby reducing the inhibition caused by DHT (double negative equals a positive). The end result reduces or prevents hair loss for most males.

Propecia is a hair loss treatment that is only available by prescription, but it is safe and well tolerated by men. It is taken once daily, and side effects are rare. The most frequent side effect is a possible decrease in libido. Studies have shown this to occur in less than 2% of patients taking the medicine, and these effects disappear when Propecia is stopped. Although this medication has been marketed as a hair restoration product, it is the opinion of RMHRI that the practical usage for this medication is to prevent further hair loss. Regrowth of lost hair is rare although enlargement of miniaturized hair is possible, but the reduction of hair loss is usually substantial.

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