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It’s something that will affect many men during their lifetime – and it’s not something they will enjoy dealing with. Hair loss – or alopecia – can affect both men and women, but it tends to be more common in men. Luckily, today there are a variety of solutions to the problem of losing your hair – including drugs like finasteride, saw palmetto, and trichotin.

Hair loss (also known as alopecia) is estimated to affect some 25% of all men

Despite the fact that most men start to lose their hair at some point in their lives, many guys will go to extreme lengths to keep their luscious locks. It is, for certain men, a reflection of how they see themselves. For many others, it is an extension of their personality. Various studies have looked at the emotional and psychological effects of hair loss on men. The results point to the fact that balding can cause distress and affect their self-image negatively.

Are you actually going bald or is it something else? finasteride | Longevity LIVE

There’s a marked difference between male pattern baldness and hair loss. Someone who is losing patches of hair randomly likely has alopecia. This patchy hair loss can happen to both men and women. It can also happen in different parts of the body. Alopecia areata happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles. Androgenic alopecia is an inherited condition that takes place when hair thinning eventually results in hair loss.

On the other hand, hair loss that follows a pattern – such as receding from the temples or the crown of the head – is known as male pattern baldness.

Once you know which condition you’re facing, it’s easier to determine which treatment will work best. Your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis following a physical exam and by finding out more about your medical history, diet, and hair care routine. According to the Mayo Clinic, he or she might recommend one or several tests to assist the diagnosis. These can range from blood tests to a scalp biopsy or light microscopy. With the right treatment, you can slow down hair loss significantly, or even reverse it. Primarily, treatment options are available for either medication or surgery.

How does finasteride work?

The FDA-approved medicine is also known under the brand name Propecia, and is available in pill form. Finasteride’s function as medicine is to prevent testosterone from breaking down into DHT. This hormone is considered to cause male pattern baldness.

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings shows finasteride to be a well-established, efficient drug with an excellent safety profile. The study also indicated that the medication resulted in increased hair density as well as an increase in hair count.

How long does it take to start working?

You might need to keep using it for a number of months before you’ll see results. But when you do, you should notice more hair growth, in addition to an improvement in the health of your hair. Remember that the medication will only keep working as long as you take it. In other words, if you’ve grown hair with finasteride and you stop using it, chances are those hairs will start to fall out eventually.

If, however, you don’t see any improvement after a period of 12 months of consistent usage, talk to your doctor about whether he or she suggests that you keep using the medication. After this period, it is unlikely that you will see a drastic change from finasteride.

Are there any side effects? finasteride | Longevity LIVE

Finasteride is part of a class of drugs called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. It’s considered less effective in men that are over 60. Women who are or could possibly be pregnant should avoid touching the medicine. Rare side effects of finasteride use in men include:

  • tender and/or enlarged breasts
  • feelings of anxiety and depression
  • rashes on the skin
  • neurological problems including mental fogginess
  • pain in the testicles
  • lowered libido, difficulty ejaculating, and erectile dysfunction

Speak to your doctor and confirm whether you are a good candidate for finasteride to stop hair loss.

What other options are available?

Saw palmetto is a popular herbal treatment for hair loss. It is believed that this treatment – which is available in various forms, including tablets, liquid extracts, powdered capsules, as well as whole dried berries – has the ability to fight inflammation. As a result, it can help to fight some of the causes of hair loss.

One study that compared the effects of finasteride to those of saw palmetto found that 38% of participants saw an improvement in their hair loss when taking saw palmetto over the course of two years. This was compared with 68% of participants that saw similar improvements while taking finasteride over the same period.

Did you know?

The earlier you start working on preventing hair loss and living a healthy lifestyle that will protect your hair, the easier it is to stop hair loss from becoming a problem as you age. Find out which superfoods to include in your diet to help prevent hair loss.


Men’s Health Editorial. 10 Things You Should Know About Male Hair Loss.

Shapiro, J., Kaufmann, K.D.  2003.  Use of Finasteride in the Treatment of Men With Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Hair Loss). Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings. (1) 2: 20-23.

Rossi, A., Marp, E., Garelli, V., Maxiai, C., Scalp, E., Iorioi, A., Carlesi, M.  2012.  Comparitive Effectiveness of Finasteride vs Serenoa Repens in Male Androgenetic Alopecia. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. (25) 4: 1167-1173 

Johane du Toit

Johane du Toit

Johané du Toit is the Health Writer at Longevity Magazine. With an Honours degree in journalism from the North-West University at Potchefstroom, she has a keen interest in medical and scientific innovations and aspires to provide the public with the latest reliable news in the fields of medicine, fitness, wellness, and science. Johane is happiest outdoors, preferably near a large body of water or in the mountains, and loves waterskiing, cooking, travelling and reading.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.