Nobody likes going bald. Thus, many hair loss sufferers would do almost anything to stop the progression of baldness and restore their thick, lustrous locks.
To date, the only proven non-surgical methods of treating hair loss are the FDA approved medications Propecia (finasteride), Rogaine (minoxidil) and arguably, low level laser therapy. Propecia in particular, works to stop hair loss at its core by inhibiting the production of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), the hormone responsible for carrying out the follicular demolition work in men and women suffering from androgenic alopecia (genetic hair loss).
Propecia, Permanent Sexual Side Effects and Lawsuits
However, given the recent news on the alleged permanent sexual side effects from Propecia and class action lawsuits against Merck, many hair loss suffering men are wondering if it’s worth the risk. Thus, I’ve polled a few leading hair restoration physicians and have asked them their opinion on the subject. Below you will find some of their input.
What Expert Hair Restoration Physicians are Saying
Dr. Mike Meshkin of Newport Beach, California claims that while side effects are a real possibility with finasteride, any side effects that may involve sexual function are mild and occur in less than 2% of all patients. Dr. Meshkin believes that Propecia is a vital part of any long term hair restoration plan.
Dr. Steve Gabel of Portland, Oregon has been prescribing Propecia for years. Dr. Gabel reports that only a select few had experienced side effects. He did describe one out of hundreds of patients who experienced the rare phenomenon of tender breasts while using Propecia. He also explained that there are ways to counteract this rare and unusual side effect.
Dr. Mike Beehner of Saratoga Springs, New York claims that there’s ways to reduce or possibly even eliminate side effects in the rare group of men who experience them. This includes lessening the amount of finasteride taken daily. In fact, there’s statistical data available which demonstrates how Propecia can still be effective in lower dosages. Also, Dr. Jerry Cooley of Charlotte, North Carolina agrees that taking smaller quantities of finasteride daily can be effective in treating baldness.
Personally, I’ve been using Propecia since 2004 and have not experienced any sexual or other side effects. For the first 6 years I was taking the recommended dosage (1 mg) of finasteride every day but in recent years, I’ve been taking 1mg of finasteride 3 times a week. My reasons for the switch had nothing to do with experiencing side effects, but rather because I liked the idea of taking a smaller dosage of the drug. Also, evidence suggests that taking smaller quantities of the drug can still yield similar results in some men. As a 4 time hair transplant patient, I’m only using Propecia to attempt to prevent any further thinning below my crown. The drug, even at smaller quantities has been seemingly effective for me.
There’s no doubt that some men experience sexual side effects from Propecia, some of which are more severe than others. However, whether or not Propecia is the sole/primary cause of severe or “permanent” sexual dysfunction in all men who report it is debatable, controversial and in my opinion, requires more research.
Each patient will ultimately have to decide for themselves whether or not they want to include Propecia in their hair loss treatment regimen. Most well respected hair restoration physicians agree that Propecia is an important part of any hair loss treatment plan for men who want to save and possibly thicken their existing hair. However, men should be aware that the possibility of sexual and other side effects are possible with this drug.
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