Most men with premature hair loss are genetically predisposed to androgenetic alopecia – a condition that is commonly known as male pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness occurs because of the effects of testosterone-the primary male sex hormone- on your hair follicles. This hormone is present in high amounts in your body after puberty and is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) because of the action of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. DHT works on the hormone receptors present in your hair follicles and slows the production of scalp hair. This results in the hair which is shorter and weaker than normal, and sometimes your hair will stop growing completely. This gradual process will eventually result in total or partial baldness.

Stages of male pattern hair loss

The onset of androgenetic alopecia usually begins at the end of puberty and is usually determined by your genetic inheritance. Most men start experiencing hair loss during their late 20s or early 30s. Hair loss initially occurs as a receding hairline and gradually progresses to thinning hair at the top of the head. Finally, both areas will converge to form a U shape around the sides and back of the head. The remaining hair, if any, becomes finer in texture and the growth rate slows down. Moderate hair loss that occurs due to hormonal causes affects most men by age 50. This hormonal condition can be hereditary in nature.

What is Propecia?

Propecia (active ingredient finasteride) is a popular prescription pill used in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. This clinically tested medication has been proven to prevent further hair loss and to promote hair growth in about 80% of cases. Propecia is quite suitable for long-term treatment in most cases of androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride, the active ingredient present in Propecia, helps in the reduction of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels in the scalps of genetically predisposed men.

How does Propecia work?

As testosterone is converted to DHT because of the action of 5-alpha-reductase, finasteride blocks the action of this enzyme and lowers DHT levels in the scalp. This reduces the negative effect of DHT on the hair follicles and prevents or even reverses hair loss. Finasteride has been reported to reduce DHT levels by about 60%. Treatment with Propecia must be continued for about 3-6 months for optimum benefits.

Possible side effects of Propecia

Like other drugs, Propecia too can produce side effects your body, which might include sexual problems such as temporary impotence and low libido. But most of these side effects are temporary in nature and usually disappear without treatment. Pregnant women, in particular, need to avoid any kind of contact with finasteride, as it is known to cause birth defects in a male fetus. It is advisable to follow your doctor’s instructions while taking this hair loss medication. Propecia has been specifically formulated to treat the symptoms of pattern baldness in men. It cannot be taken by women with female pattern baldness, nor can it be prescribed for men who experience hair loss because of cancer or chemotherapy.