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What is Propecia?Propecia is the brand name of the drug finasteride, also sold as proscar. It's the first pill approved by the FDA to treat male pattern baldness or hair loss on the top of the head and mid-scalp areas. Finasteride is pronounced: fin AS ter ide.
Propecia was originally developed to treat an enlarged prostate condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The FDA approved it in December 22, 1997. It's manufactured by Merck and Company, Inc.
How does Propecia work?Male pattern baldness is medically called androgenetic alopecia. It accounts for 95% of all hair loss. In women, it appears as a diffuse thinning over most of the scalp. In men, it starts with a receding hairline that gradually develops over the top of the head. This hair loss is called androgenetic alopecia because the male hormones (androgens) and hereditary factors (genetic) that determine the loss of hair.
Specifically, the enzyme 5 alpha reductase converts the male hormone testosterone into a male hormone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The DHT is believed to cause hair loss in those who are genetically disposed. DHT shrinks the hair follicle until it no longer grows visible hair.
Propecia works by blocking the enzyme 5 alpha reductase that lowers the levels of DHT in the body. This normalizes hair growth and reverses hair loss. The advantage of Propecia is that it selectively targets the appropriate hormone without causing undesirable changes in other hormones.
What side effects do users of Propecia report?98% of men taking Propecia had no side effects. Clinical tests show PROPECIA is very well tolerated. A small number of men (1.8%) experience some sexual side effects. 1.3% reported erectile dysfunction.
Although not listed as a "known" side effect, some users have reported small blackheads on forehead and increased skin oil across their face. Two report suffering from acne 6 months after stopping their Propecia intake. One reported that acne was still present after 3 years. This is probably not a big problem but still a potential risk.
Tell your doctor if you experience
Decreased libido (1.8%)
Decreased volume of ejaculate (0.8%)
Impotence (less than one percent)
Breast tenderness or enlargement (less than one percent)
Update December 2010: Merck has officially added depression to the list of possible side effects of Propecia.
Caution - Warning: May cause birth defects in male baby's sex organs if taken by women.
In most cases of men who reported side effects, stopping the medication resolves the problem. In those who stopped taking it, the benefits gradually declined and hair loss resumed.
What are the symptoms of overdose or something gone wrong?No reports of overdose were found, but if you experience any of the following, you may be having an allergic reaction and should seek immediate medical attention.
Closing of your throat
Swelling of your lips, tongue, or face
Storing PropeciaStore Propecia in a tightly closed container at room temperature ( 59 - 86 degrees F or 15 - 30 degrees C ) away from heat, moisture and children.
Conditions to tell your Doctor about before taking Propecia:If you're going to get a blood test for PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen), the Propecia will alter the results.
Liver disease - you may need a lower dose or special monitoring during therapy.
Tell Your Doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:Although no known conflicts have been reported, you should still tell your doctor about any prescription drugs you are taking in case something new is discovered.
General Notes on PropeciaIf you miss a day, do NOT take an extra tablet. Taking more than one a day is NOT recommended.
You may use it for 3 months or more before you notice an increase in hair growth and/or prevention of hair loss. If you haven't seen results within 12 months, you probably won't.
You have to use it continuously for maximum benefit. If you stop taking it, you will likely lose the hair you have gained within 12 months.
Take each dose with a full glass of water (8 ounces).
Propecia has been studied in men with mild to moderate hair loss, aged 18 to 41.
Not to be used or given to anyone under the age of 18.
Not to be used by women - causes birth defects.
Women should not handle crushed or broken Propecia tablets. It can be absorbed through the skin. Whole tablets are coated to prevent this.
Propecia can be taken with or without food.
According to Merck Pharmaceuticals, Propecia stops the progression of hair loss in the majority of patients (83%), and results in hair regrowth in over 65%.
Tests were performed for semen levels in 35 men taking PROPECIA® daily for 6 months. PROPECIA® levels were undetectable in 60% of the samples. The highest level measured was 1.52 ng/mL and the mean was 0.26 ng/mL. Using the highest semen level measured, a woman's exposure through vaginal absorption would be 750 times lower than the exposure from the no-effect dose in Rhesus monkeys tests.
PROPECIA® helps grow natural hair not just "peach fuzz" and it's as convenient as taking a vitamin: one pill a day.
Some studies shown Propecia to be about 80% effective in preventing future hair loss and about 40% - 50% effective in restoring hair growth.
Common Misspellings for PropeciaPropecia is often misspelled, as many people hear the word verbally, write it down and spell it incorrectly. Here are a few of the most common misspellings for Propecia: Propesha, Propesa, Propicia, and Propeaca.
Propecia FeedbackIf you've used Propecia, please help others by sharing your experience with side effects. What would you tell your best friend about this product? Please remember that we do not give medical advice. That is for your local health care provider, who is familiar with your medical history. You can use the form below to add your comments, feedback or Propecia review.
Is there a side effect noted in Propecia of mood swings, irritability, loss of anger control? My husband is taking Propecia and shortly after he started he started exhibiting these "symptoms". He is now going to a psychiatrist for this. However, I work for a dermatologist and have noted two patients who have complained of the same "side effects", i.e. irritability, short tempers, moos swings. None of these have been clinically attributed to Propecia, but I feel there might be a link.
Subj: propecia side affects
My name is Lynda and I have a lot to say about Propecia. My husband was taking Propecia for 3 years. It did fill in the crown area of his head and didn't seem to make him sick in any way. All seemed good. The problem started about 4 months ago when we wanted to conceive our second child. We have a 2 year old and conceived on the first try. This time I knew something was wrong when we wern't getting pregnant. We both got checked out and it was my husbands sperm count. It was lowered to 1 million no motility at all. The doc says he is perfectly healthy, all test came back normal. Whats differant Propecia for over 3 years.
When we had our daughter he had only been on the drug for a couple of months. He is going for a 3 month sa in another month. We are really worried, is this going to go back to normal? We have been in touch with other people across the US that are going through the same thing. I think more testing needs to be done on men taking this drug for a long time and on men who are trying to become fathers. Do you know anything that could help us? Have you heard about this before? This is a very serious subject, people are spending so much money on this drug and now are spending tons of money trying to become parents!
AskDocWeb: We agree with you, more needs to be known about the long term effects of Propecia. At present there is no answer to the question about returning to normal.
Subj: Propecia alternative
I am not asking for medical advice, but I did have a question. I took propecia for over a year, and at first I seemed to notice a stop in hair loss, and the appearance of regrowth and was ecstatic. Then about a year and 2 months or so after starting the treatment, I seemed to be losing hair again.
My question is, is it possible to develop a tolerance to propecia, or was it just in my head (over analysis etc)? Since I've stopped taking it I've developed more rapid hair loss, but I don't want to spend a lot of money just to grow hair and then develop a tolerance again.
AskDocWeb: Yes, it is possible to develop a tolerance.
Subj: Propecia feedback
Propecia was presribed to me prior to hair transplantation. I was quoted the same comforting statistics shared by the manufacturer.
From the first week on the medication the sexual side effects were, in a word, drastic. I literally felt as if I had lost all sensation below my waist. This condition only improved after I refused to take any more of the medication.
At first I believed my doctor when he suggested that I fell in to that rare 1.8% that had a reaction - but I then found numerous web-sites where other men had complained of the same side-effects I had but never seemed to show up in any studies.
Speaking for myself, I would rather be as bald as Yul Brenner for life before I ever take this medication again.
AskDocWeb: You might want to try a herbal alternative to Propecia like Procerin or Provillus.
Subj: Shen Min
What is you opinion on Shen Min and it's ability to stop hair loss. Are there any studies on Shen Min and hair loss that the general public would have access to? Thanks.
AskDocWeb: Part 1: We have not looked at this closely but my personal opinion is that taking vitamins will result in hair growth only when the hair loss was caused by a vitamin deficiency. At present, we don't know what percentage of people are losing hair because of a vitamin deficiency.
Part 2: There was a study but it looks like it is no longer available to the public.
Subj: No problems (propecia)
I've been taking Propecia for about 2 years now. The hair has regrown on the crown area and the hair loss/thinning has all but stopped but is still thin. This is exactly what I expected.
I have not experienced a decrease in sex drive or any of the potential side effects. The regrown hair has actually increased my confidence and therefore increased my sex drive. I see a lot of negative comments about Propecia but I feel that the issue there is that people are apt to complain when something does not work but do not bother to contribute when something is working great for them (I work in customer support, so I know!). Propecia doesn't work for everybody and all the studies show this to be true; 80% stop hair loss and 40% regrow hair. There's really no way to tell unless you give it a shot.
Steve (another one)
Subj: Online Rx sites
I have heard that many of the sites that do not require a medical referral or exam are actually just selling placebo, fake or otherwise "watered down" versions of the drug. How do I know for sure that the Propecia I buy on line is the real thing?
AskDocWeb: Good question! You can start by making sure you are dealing with a pharmacy in the United States. Then see if they have a real address and phone number by doing a "WhoIs" search. You could also call directory assistance and ask for the phone listing of their company name. If there is no listing, I wouldn't do business with them.
Subj: question about propecia
Hello. Since propecia is covered with just a thin film, does cutting the finasteride into pieces interfere with the absorption of the drug, and could the absorption be quicker and more efficient if the tab is placed under the tongue. Thank you for you answer to this matter.
AskDocWeb: This sounds like you are trying to get results in minutes rather than months. It just does not happen that fast. You are just wasting your time.
Subj: sexual dysfunction after 7 months on propecia
I have recently began to experience some erectile dysfunction while having sex. I'll get an erection and then lose it. I have been taking propecia for 7 months and recently began having sex with my girlfriend. For several weeks my erections were fine, but I noticed not as hard as they had been before taking the medicine. I also seem to have lost my libido. Is this a common side effect after 7 months? I have been to my family doctor and urologist and both assure me the problem is not physical. They have suggested that I may be experiencing some performance anxiety, but I have backed away form having sex with my girlfriend and I do have firm erections when I kissing her and stuff, but I still feel like something is not right. can anyone help?
A few years ago I had been using Rogaine and decided to try Propecia. I stopped using Propecia after a couple of months because I noticed more hair loss in that 2 month period than ever before. When I went back to Rogaine, it seamed to help. I still use Rogaine, but in my opinion it only slows hair loss and does not stop it, or re-grow hair.
Someone says taking Propecia can get cancer. Is this true?
AskDocWeb: We found nothing relating cancer with this product.
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Most recent post: February 23, 2016
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