Hair loss can be a distressing process which can happen to many people throughout their lives. For men, it can mean they feel a loss in attractiveness and masculinity. A common form of hair loss in men is androgen alopecia, which is more commonly referred to as male pattern baldness. The extent of male pattern baldness is measured using the Norwood-Hamilton scale, with earlier stages having a full head of hair to moderate receding hair at the temples and the last stage having a characteristic horseshoe of hair around the head.
The most established cause of hair loss is related to a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT has many important actions in the body but in relation to hair, it promotes the growth of facial and body hair but actually inhibits scalp hair growth. This mechanism is not entirely understood by researchers, however, in genetically prone scalps DHT initiates a process known as follicular miniaturization in which the hair follicle growth phase (anagen phase) is reduced and so the un-pigmented hair follicle is prevented from growing into a mature, deeply rooted, pigmented strand of hair which normally occurs. This hair is fragile and eventually, over time, will go dormant and production of any subsequent hair will cease thus leading to baldness.
Furthermore, male pattern baldness is thought to have a genetic link. This was believed to have a strong influence from a man’s mothers genetics as men inherit the relevant gene which causes hair loss from their mother’s side (the X chromosome). However, it is now established that both parents genetics have a part to play in a man’s susceptibility to male pattern baldness. Indeed, studies have shown men have up to a 2.5 times greater chance of having the condition if their father is also a sufferer regardless of their mother’s genetic influence. It should be noted that many factors play a part in contributing to a man having this condition and having a genetic predisposition does not necessarily guarantee to have male pattern baldness yourself.
Another cause of male pattern baldness is age. Indeed, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that the incidence of male pattern baldness is roughly equivalent to chronological age with approximately half of the men in their fifties experiencing some degree of hair loss. This is again related to hormonal changes, most significantly the reduced breakdown in DHT, therefore, increased levels of DHT in the body, which as explained above, contributes to hair loss.
Nutritional and environmental factors are also thought to have some influence on the prevalence of baldness. Deficiencies in nutrients like biotin and zinc as well as diets high in animal fats (found in high concentrations in fast food) are thought to contribute to hair loss and male pattern baldness.
The most common method of diagnosis of male pattern baldness is clinical observation and examination. This would generally involve a doctor examining the scalp and asking questions to the patient in relation to the hair loss such as ‘how long has the hair been thinning/receding?’ and ‘are you taking any other medication including herbal products?’
Other techniques include trichoscopy which is a process of observing the scalp and hair structures under magnification of up to 70 times that would normally be seen with the naked eye. Another method would be hair counts which would involve a patient collecting the hair lost over a number of weeks and then assessing if the amount and rate of hair which is being lost is abnormal.
Although now, baldness is a much more socially accepted matter, with many well-loved celebrities including Prince William and Wayne Rooney having some degree of hair loss too, there are still solutions for this condition.
One such treatment is Propecia tablets and the generic equivalent – Finasteride. Propecia contains a drug known as finasteride in the strength of 1mg per tablet. They appear as a tan colour tablet with one side marked with a ‘P’ and the other with ‘Propecia’ and are available in blisters of 28 or 84. The typical dose of Propecia is one tablet once a day and can be taken with or without food.
Propecia is a prescription only medication and so generally requires a visit to your GP or other healthcare professional. However, here at Assured Pharmacy, we understand that many men live an extremely busy life and getting to the doctor can be a struggle at the best of times, so we offer a service in which patients can get a prescription online via our UK based doctor by completing an online medical questionnaire to assess suitability. This allows our patients to safely and privately buy medicines online which can be conveniently delivered to their homes.
In terms of how this medication works, Propecia is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. This means in the body Propecia stops the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by as much as 75% in the blood. This reduction in DHT reduces androgen activity in the scalp which consequently stops further hair loss and encourages future hair growth.
In terms of efficiency, Propecia begins to block the formation of DHT almost immediately but because hair growth is slow, the actual results may take some time before they are visible. Patients begin to the notice the benefits as early on as three months.
It is shown from research that Propecia can be effective in all men and does not vary in efficiency between ethnic groups.
In a study of 18 to 41-year-old men, it was shown that the best improvement was re-growth of hair on the vertex. Indeed, over a 2 year period, 5% of men had shown a great improvement in the balding vertex, while 31% had moderate improvement and 30% had a slight improvement. Furthermore, at five years, 90% of these men had no further hair loss compared to 100% of men on a placebo having significantly less hair. There was on average a 277 per circular inch difference in patients taking Propecia versus those taking the placebo. This is an increased density of approximately 20% of hair volume.
Hair loss from the anterior mid-scalp is not as well treated by Propecia but research has shown that 42% of men do still experience some degree of re-growth and 95% had no further hair loss after two years. Unfortunately, no current research has shown Propecia to be effective in the re-growth of hair from the frontal hairlines.
Furthermore, Propecia has shown to be effective in older men (42-60 years) as indicated in a two year clinical trial of men with mild to moderate hair loss. From the study, it was found that of the 300 men taking Propecia, 94% of men had some hair growth or no further hair loss and 39% had some growth. Indeed, although these figures are not as dramatic as the results from the study on 18 to 41-year-olds, it does show that there is still some definite benefit in taking Propecia.
Propecia is considered to be a very safe medication with very few men actually having to cease treatment because of medication. Some of the most common side effects are decreased male libido (sexual desire), erectile dysfunction (difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection) and ejaculation disorder (primarily decreased volume of ejaculate). In many cases, the symptoms subside as the body becomes accustomed to the hormonal changes. In a study over one year comparing the side effects of Propecia compared to a placebo, it was shown that men taking Propecia had just a 0.5% difference in reduction of libido, a 0.6% in erectile dysfunction and 0.5% in premature ejaculation.
Furthermore, after five years the incidence of side effects of Propecia drop even further which just 0.3% of men experiencing decreased libido or erectile dysfunction.
Propecia does not affect hair on other parts of the body other than the scalp.
In conclusion, there is solid evidence that Propecia can be a great medicine for men who suffer from hair loss and want an alternative solution.
Propecia and generic Finasteride can be purchased safely and conveniently from Assured Pharmacy today.
Assured Pharmacy is not liable for the currency or accuracy of the information contained in this blog post. For specific information about your personal medical condition, please contact our doctors or pharmacists for advice on [email protected].