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Finasteride is the generic name for thebrand name medication Propecia and is used to treat male pattern hair loss.
Finasteride reduces the level of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your body. DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, resulting in the hair loss seen in male pattern baldness.
Lowering DHT levels increases hair growth and decreased hair loss of the hair on your head.
Finasteride comes as a tablet to be taken orally. The dosage for these tables is 1mg. These tablets need to be taken daily and continuously.
Studies suggest that Finasteride can help regrow hair, although results will be different in each person, and even different depending on the area of your head that is losing hair.
That said, it’s better to think of Finasteride as a way to help keep the hair that you have, rather than regrowing lost hair.
Another hair loss treatment is Minoxidil, which is a topical solution or foam applied to the scalp. Minoxidil is available over the counter in Canada, in concentrations of 5% or lower.
There is some controversy around finasteride and prostate cancer that you should be aware of. Long-term follow-up results from a phase III trial called the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) showed that regular use of finasteride (Proscar®) for up to 7 years decreased the risk of low-grade prostate cancer in men age 55, although high-grade cancers were more common in the finasteride group compared to placebo. This was confirmed in a follow up 2018 study, although there was no significant between-group difference in the rates of overall survival or survival after the diagnosis of prostate cancer in the finasteride group.
Health Canada has concluded that there may be a link between finasteride and the risk of suicidal ideation. If you feel suicidal while on finasteride, please stop the medication and go to the emergency department.
Finasteride has been shown to have sexual and mood-related side effects in a minority of patients taking the medications. Most of these side effects, if they occur, do not persist if the medication is stopped. Some individuals have reported ongoing sexual and mood changes after ceasing the medication.
Further, individuals interested in fertility should be aware of data regarding finasteride and fertility that suggest it should be avoided in men interested in conceiving.
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