If you ask your physician for a medication that will stop your hair loss and possibly reverse it, they will almost certainly recommend Propecia. And why wouldn’t they? The drug has been around since 1997 and many men are thankful for the results they have received while taking Propecia. A prescription is needed for the medication but the price is no longer expensive. So, when a doctor tells you it is relatively safe to take, you immediately believe them and look at it as a godsend. However, there are side effects—some you may view as quite serious—that you should consider before making a lifetime commitment to Propecia. 

A Brief History of Propecia

Propecia is extremely popular and that is putting it mildly. In 2016, it was the 75th most prescribed medication in the United States. More than ten million people were taking it in just that country alone. However, just like many medications, it was not originally meant to treat hair loss. 

Known more commonly as finasteride back in 1992, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a way to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is otherwise known as an enlarged prostate. But a strange thing happened when men started taking this drug. Many noticed that their hair quit falling out and some even started to regrow hair on their scalp that they had written off a long time ago. The company that owned the rights to finasteride, Merck, realized they had stumbled upon something that could make them much more money than just a drug that was used to treat a large prostate. They were going to switch gears and go after all the balding men in the world!

As 1997 came around, Merck had finasteride approved as a way to treat male pattern hair loss. They named this “wonder drug” Propecia and started an ad campaign large enough so everyone who was suffering through baldness would know about it. Doctors were flooded by balding men interested in regaining their hair and their youth. It turns out that Propecia acts as an androgen blocker that limits the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the main culprit for most men’s baldness. And men were paying up. Merck has made billions of dollars from introducing Propecia to the world. 

What Results Can You Expect with Propecia?

Everyone responds to medications in different ways. After research and studies are completed, people have a better idea of how they might respond to a drug. Propecia displayed promising results in balding men. Even after just one dose of Propecia, DHT levels are lowered. After taking it consistently for a few weeks, it will eventually lower a man’s DHT levels by 70 percent. This will usually stop hairs from falling out and halt the male pattern hair loss in its tracks. 

In as little as three to four months, you might see little hairs here and there growing on your scalp. However, you will probably not realize the full effects of Propecia until about the one-year mark. By then, you should be able to see how much hair you have actually grown back. Not all men are fortunate enough for hair to regrow when taking Propecia, but usually most men will have their hair at least stop falling out. This means that if you catch your hair loss early enough and start taking Propecia at the first signs, you could be in good shape. 

The Side Effects of Propecia That Should Worry You 

During the first fifteen years of Propecia being available on the market, there were not any considerable side effects listed with the medication that would make men think twice about taking it. It seemed like it was a miracle drug for millions of men. But during those first fifteen years that Propecia was running wild on the market, there were some men that were noticing strange sexual side effects that they attributed to Propecia. In fact, they started internet groups comparing their nightmarish stories of breast enlargement, penis shrinkage, and painful ejaculations. 

Finally, in 2012, the FDA stepped up, did its job, and listed the potential side effects of Propecia: serious and sometimes permanent side effects such as decreased libido, impotence, erectile dysfunction, ejaculation disorders, and more. 

Suddenly, Propecia seemed more like a nightmare than a godsend. There have been more than 1,500 lawsuits filed against Merck, the creators of Propecia, and with good reason. The Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study back in 2008 that showed that 38 percent of men taking Propecia were experiencing sexual side effects. Would you be willing to risk serious sexual side effects in an effort to keep as much of your hair as possible? If it meant having a full, thick head of hair, then possibly. But according to studies, Propecia only provides “some” regrowth in 64 percent of men after taking it for two years. Plus, you would have to keep on taking the medication forever, otherwise your male pattern hair loss starts right back up again. It doesn’t seem like it would be worth the risk. 

Are the Side Effects Reversible?

This is one of the most troubling aspects of the side effects listed with Propecia. You would believe that perhaps once you came off the medication for good, everything would go back to normal pretty quickly. But men have stated that the side effects have stuck around for years even after they removed Propecia from their lives. 

A Natural Alternative to Consider

There are natural alternatives to Propecia that a person should probably try if they are worried about hair loss and don’t want to experience dreadful side effects. Saw Palmetto extract can be found online or in any pharmacy. It can be had without a prescription and usually only costs a couple dollars for a month’s supply. It is said to naturally lower DHT and has been shown to increase hair growth in many studies. Saw Palmetto sounds like the perfect alternative to the questionable Propecia.