" Finasteride has been associated with various side effects including problems with ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and lack of libido."
Finasteride has been used for treating hair loss in men for over decades. It is often used in conjunction with minoxidil. Many studies showed the efficacy of finasteride, however, there have been growing number of reported adverse effects associated with the use of finasteride. In the United States, finasteride products should carry a warning on the label about the potential adverse effects related to sex function.
I was prescribed with finasteride more than 15 years ago. Due to the side effects, after a few months I decided to stop taking finasteride. What are the potential side effects of finasteride that may deter men from using it? Why finasteride can be effective against male pattern hair loss? What are the alternative hair loss treatment products to finasteride?
Dihydrotestosterone and Hair Loss
Dihydrotestosterone is the androgen hormone which in some men and women causes hair follicles to shrink gradually and eventually stop growing hair. It is still a mystery why for some people, their hair follicles are very sensitive to dihydrotestosterone. In men and women who suffer from androgenetic hair loss, dihydrotestosterone shortens the hair growing period and lengthens the hair resting period until the hair follicles can no longer grow hair. The speed of this process varies individually for yet unknown reasons.
Dihydrotestosterone is produced in our body through the conversion of testosterone by 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme which is involved in the steroid metabolism. Dihydrotestosterone triggers the male characteristics such as deep voice, prominent facial and body hair, stronger bones and muscles. It has also been associated with male aggressive behaviour including sexual aggressiveness.
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Finasteride Reduces Dihydrotestosterone Levels in Men
Finasteride is known to reduce dihydrotestosterone levels by inhibiting the activity of 5-alpha reductase. It helps prevent the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone in our body. As a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, finasteride helps regulate the hair growth cycle. It helps reduce hair loss in men. Women should not use finasteride as it can cause birth defects.
Finasteride Causes Erectile Dysfunction, Ejaculatory Problems and Lack of Libido
According to a study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research, finasteride may trigger various side effects including problems of ejaculation (7.7%), problems with erection (15.8%) and lack of libido (5.4%).
Problems with erection seems to be the most commonly side effects from using finasteride. Some studies suggest that these effects are temporary. Nevertheless, the US authority has requested that the label for finasteride products should carry a warning about the adverse effects that may not subside even after the users stopped taking finasteride.
According to Reuters (29-September-2019), U.S. Food and Drug Administration have received 5,000 complaints about the adverse sexual effects of finasteride from 2009 to 2018. 350 out of 5,000 men who reported these side effects were also suffering with suicidal thoughts. It was said that 50 of them committed suicide.
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Finasteride Triggers Anxiety and Depression in Men
A study involving 97 men who took finasteride for hair loss problems (American's Journal of Men's Health) showed that nearly 50% of them suffered from depression while 34% of them suffered from anxiety. It is worth to note that 17 of these men have a family history of mental disorders that may affect them too.
Alternative Hair Loss Solution
If you suffer from hair loss, always bare in mind that everyone may react differently to any drug including finasteride. Just because it has caused various problems in some men, it doesn't mean that it will do the same to you and vice versa. Again, women should never use finasteride as it is known to cause birth defects.
As an anti-ageing scientist who has tried both finasteride and minoxidil, I decided not to use them. It wasn't an easy decision for me. Fortunately, after 15 years of research and development, I have successfully developed my own hair loss solution, Scalp Stimulator and Hair Growth Serum.
Scalp Stimulator is a pre-shampoo hair loss treatment oil which has been specially formulated with an exclusive blend of menthol, stabilised vitamin E, rosemary, cedarwood, thyme, lavender, ylang ylang and lemon essential oils to help reverse the effects of dihydrotestosterone on hair follicles. Gently massage to the affected areas of the scalp, 20 to 30 minutes before you wash your hair with a shampoo. For best results, use once a day.
Hair Growth Tonic is a revitalising hair serum which has been formulated with caffeine, niacinamide, menthol, rosemary, thyme, cedarwood and ylang ylang essential oils to reduce hair loss and optimise hair growth. Twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening, gently massage Hair Growth Serum into the scalp. Then style your hair as usual. Don't rinse. Ideally, use it every 12 hours.
Be patience and consistent. Hair follicle will rest for about 100 days after hair fall. On average, hair grows about 1.2 cm per month, therefore, use both Scalp Stimulator and Hair Growth Serum continuously for at least 6 months. I have been using them daily for years and my hair continues to grow stronger and fuller over time.
Henry Tianus is a multi-award-winning Anti-Ageing Scientist based in London, UK. Henry Tianus has been listed as The Recognised Institute Practitioner at The Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy (ITHMA), London (UK) since 2005. Henry Tianus's articles have been read by people in more than 100 countries with US and UK at the top of the list. Join Henry Tianus eNewsletter to receive the latest health and wellbeing tips.
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The 6 Best Essential Oils To Stop Hair Loss and Regrow Hair
As an anti-ageing scientist who studied at The Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy (ITHMA), London; I am very fond of essential oils. For the past 15 years, I have been developing and perfecting haircare formulas to slow down my own hereditary hair loss.
Caffeine Helps Prevent Baldness in Men and Women
In hair follicles, testosterone gets converted to dihydrotestosterone by the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR). A study published in the International Journal of Trichology suggested that Caffeine may reduce the activity of 5-alpha-reductase. Hence, caffeine seems to help prevent the hair follicles from shrinking.
Rosemary Oil is as effective as Minoxidil for Androgenetic Alopecia
A comparison study between the hair-growth-boosting properties of Rosemary Oil and Minoxidil showed that rosemary is equally as effective as Minoxidil in promoting hair growth in people with androgenetic alopecia. Rosemary contains phytochemicals that help prevent the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone.
Rosemary Extract Reduces Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in Hair Follicles
A study published in the Phytotherapy Research showed that Rosemary extract inhibited the activity of 5-alpha-reductase by up to 94.6%. By inhibiting the action of enzyme 5-alpha-reductase in hair follicles, rosemary extract reduces dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in hair follicles that helps prevent androgenetic hair loss.
How Dihydrotestosterone Causes Hair Loss (Androgenetic Alopecia)?
Dihydrotestosterone causes hair follicles to shrink gradually. Over the times, hair appears visibly weaker, shorter and thinner. The term of androgenetic alopecia is used for a hair loss condition caused by androgen hormones, particularly dihydrotestosterone. Left untreated, this hair loss condition may cause baldness.
Hair Loss and Thinning Hair Treatment
During the shedding stage, the hair follicle rests completely for about 100 days. In average, up to 100 telogen hairs are shed everyday. Often, it is not the number of hair fall that causes thinning hair. Most of the times, it is the prolonged resting stage that causes the hair on the scalp to thin.
Peppermint Strengthens and Promotes Hair Growth
A study published in Toxicology Research suggested that peppermint oil is more effective than minoxidil in promoting hair growth. Peppermint oil has been shown to increase the number and the depth of hair follicles. After 4 weeks, Peppermint Oil improved the hair growth by 92% compared to 55% of Minoxidil.
Baldness and The Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Men
Numerous studies with a total participant of 36,990 men showed that men with severe vertex baldness have a 48% higher risk of heart disease. A moderate vertex baldness was associated with a 36% increased risk of heart disease, while men with mild vertex baldness have a 18% higher risk of heart disease.
Diabetes Increases The Risk for Hair Loss
High Blood Sugar Levels trigger inflammation. Chronic inflammation is an autoimmune condition, the same type of condition that triggers alopecia areata. People who suffer from type 1 diabetes are at higher risk of suffering from alopecia areata, a hair loss condition characterised by smooth bald patches on the scalp.
Niacinamide (Nicotinamide) for Youthful Radiant Skin
Niacinamide boosts the production of collagen in the skin by up to 54%; while it also increases the production of elastin and skin proteins by up to 20% and 100%. A clinical study showed that Niacinamide visibly improved the appearance of ageing skin and helped prevent the appearance of age spots by up to 68%.
N-Acetyl Glucosamine: How To Reduce Age Spots and Hyperpigmentation
N-Acetyl Glucosamine is a nano peptide naturally extracted from the outer shells of shellfish. It penetrates deeper into the skin to reduce age spots, hyperpigmentation and other signs of ageing. Studies showed that it helps prevent the excess melanin production, boost hyaluronic acid synthesis and skin cell renewal.
The Best Vitamin C for Your Skin
Scientifically known as the purest and most potent form of vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid has a significantly higher bioactivity in the skin than vitamin C derivatives such as sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, glyceryl ascorbate and ascorbyl glucoside.
Scientific Sources: Finasteride and sexual side effects, Indian Dermatology Online Journal, 2012 Jan-Apr, 3(1): 62–65; Androgen levels and components of aggressive behavior in men, Hormones and Behavior, 1987 Jun, 21(2): 170-80; Medical therapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia: sexual dysfunction and impact on quality of life, International journal of impotence research, 2003 Aug, 15(4): 299-306; Emotional Consequences of Finasteride: Fool’s Gold, American Journal of Men's Health, 2018 Jan, 12(1): 90–95; Special Report: Court let Merck hide secrets about baldness drug's risks, Reuters, 11-September-2019.