How does Propecia work?

What you need to know about Propecia and what it does


Propecia not only stops and slows down male-pattern hair loss, but it can also reverse the process, inducing hair to regrow. It mainly does this by blocking enzymes, and we’ll get into the specifics of what it does and how it does this.


The Enzyme Blocker

As men grow older, their body may begin to release greater quantities of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme takes the testosterone the body produces and turns much of it into a new hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). This change is directly responsible for hair loss or male-pattern baldness. 

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Propecia can be incredibly effective at blocking this enzyme, reducing levels of DHT, which often leads to a regrowth of dead hair cells or at least slowing of hair loss.

Ideally, new hair growth is stimulated as DHT levels decrease.  By decreasing conversion of testosterone to DHT, propecia can actually increase levels of circulating testosterone. High levels of DHT can also lead to an enlarged prostate, so Propecia can help prevent this condition.  Keep in mind however, that DHT is also an active form of testosterone, and is actually important in maintaining erectile function.  Therefore, a small percentage of individuals will experience erectile dysfunction when taking Propecia.

While male pattern baldness is an expected side effect of aging, it is not medically necessary, nor is it something that all men have to simply live with. It can be successfully treated and even reversed, in some cases.


How Effective Is It?

Propecia won’t work for everyone, nor is it completely effective at reversing or stopping hair loss in all men. It is considered to be about 86% effective, and even in those cases, not all the old hair will return. Still, it is the most effective FDA-approved treatment for male-pattern hair loss available, and is most often recommended by doctors.

In some cases, doctors will prescribe a combination of Propecia and topical Minoxidil, (Rogaine) which makes treatment more effective.


Side Effects

Any effective medication can also cause side effects. Changes in testosterone levels can lead to testicular shrinkage and a variety of sexual problems, such as impotence and loss of libido. 

If your side effects are too severe, your doctor may be able to prescribe you something to treat them or may find you an alternative treatment method. Still, nothing is considered quite as effective as Propecia for treating male-pattern baldness.

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