Propecia is a hair loss drug. While Rogaine is a non-prescription cream, Propecia’s a prescription – a 5a-reductase inhibitor (5ARI) used to treat both prostate enlargement and male pattern baldness. It’s believed to inhibit conversion of testosterone to hair loss-causing DHT.
Sensitivity to DHT is the primary cause of genetic hair loss in men, and is proven to help reduce hair loss – and help ease the often debilitating sting of male pattern baldness.
The downside to Propecia? A series of side effects that range from headaches to dizziness, swelling and impotence. The latter can remain permanently, even after you stop using the drug, and is concerning enough that Propecia is worth careful scrutiny, and warrants a discussion with your doctor.
A study published in March 2017 found that Propecia (generic name Finasteride), increased risk of depression, but not suicide. The study focused on two drugs – Propecia and Proscar – widely used to treat balding and enlarged prostate.
Ongoing research suggests there is a connection between premature hair loss in men and the prostate, though we’re not clear what it is at this time.
This was a Canadian study, designed to evaluate concerns of the possible link between the two drugs and adverse psychiatric effects. The study tracked data from more than 93,000 Canadian men, aged 66 and above. Each man had started a prescription for a 5ARI between 2003 and 2010.
The study was not designed to prove a cause and effect relationship between 5ARI drugs and psychiatric effects. Still, a few trends emerged – for example, the men had an 88% higher risk of hurting themselves in the first 18 months of starting either drug. That risk subsided, though, if patients used it longer than that.
Risk of depression also went up in those first 18 months, by 94%, and stayed high, though it dropped substantially after that. Yet despite these findings, researchers found no link between Proscar or Propecia and suicide among men who took the drugs.
Generally speaking, the study authors say the risk of psychiatric effects in any given patient were low. Also, the potential benefits of 5ARI drugs may outweigh the risk of side effects, they said of the results, which were published on March 20 in JAMA of Internal Medicine.
Two observers of the study – one a urologist and the other a psychiatrist – think the findings should be included in discussions between doctors and their patients. As well, in a follow up consultation, doctors should ask their patients about depression-related symptoms.
They also agreed that both drugs give significant health benefits to patients with prostate-related urinary symptoms and should, in many cases, be continued with doctor supervision.
Still, not all doctors agree with this stance. One psychiatrist points out that neither male pattern baldness nor prostate enlargement are life-threatening.
Inconvenient? Yes, and a large hit to your confidence – but neither will send you to an early grave, he says. In that light, the study provokes thought on the value of treating hair loss and enlarged prostate with Propecia, Proscar and related 5ARS drugs in the first place.
It also raises the issue of whether it’s the doctor’s role to decide what constitutes quality of life. For example, does the slight risk of depression and self-harm from a drug like Propecia negate the benefit of treating a non-lethal condition that someone thinks is seriously affecting their quality of life?
Consider, for example, that someone with an enlarged prostate may have to rise several times each night to use the bathroom. Is that worse than being depressed? Quality of life needs to be a discussion between patient and doctor. It’s unique to you – alone – and a careful evaluation of the known risks of Propecia and other 5ARSs you may be considering.
We’re the first to admit that Propecia works. As you may have guessed, it was originally designed as a drug to treat enlarged prostate, but came with a curious side effect – hair growth.
Propecia is one of the most effective hair loss drugs. It works because it helps reduce an enzyme, called 5 alpha-reductase, that converts testosterone into a potent androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that attacks hair follicles.
DHT is the leading cause of male pattern baldness.
The problem with Propecia is.the side effects linked to the drug. There is clearly a powerful connection between hair loss and sexual function. For proof of this, consider the same mechanism in Propecia that treats enlarged prostate also slows hair loss.
And there lies our greatest concern with Propecia. Among other things, it’s linked to a series of sexual side effects, including infertility and impotence.
Those side effects may linger too – even after you’ve stopped using the drug. One study found the average guy has close to a 20% chance of sexual side effects with Propecia.
While we’re all for a hair loss drug that works, that’s not a risk you should be keen to take.
We have our own hair loss treatment product here at Natural Health Source. It’s called Profollica – a two part system consisting of a daily herbal supplement and activator gel with Trichogen. The latter is a topical DHT-blocker that reportedly reduced hair loss in 90% of volunteers who took it in a clinical trial.
The daily herbal supplement consists of hair-friendly nutrients like biotin and vitamin B12.
You can also add the optional ‘Revive’ shampoo for maximum results.
We’re the first to admit that Profollica is an in-house product. We’re biased as such, and you should do your own due diligence before choosing your hair loss treatment to fit your needs.
Do we recommend Propecia? We do not – but that’s a decision you should make with your doctor.
We make Profollica for guys who want to fight hair loss naturally, without drugs, and once again feel good about the hair growth they’ve got.
It’s your decision whether to use Propecia or otherwise, be it to fight male pattern baldness, treat enlarged prostate, or any other reason your doctor may suggest it to you.
Now you’re equipped with a little background knowledge. What you do with it is up to you.