While most hair loss treatments are topical – for example, liquids, foams, shampoos and creams – there are some hair loss treatments licensed for use in the UK in tablet form.
But how do they work, and are they effective in reducing hair loss in men? Let’s take a look at the two treatments licensed for use on male pattern hair loss in the UK (As these treatments affect the male hormonal system, they should not be used by women, as they can have adverse effects).
Finasteride/Propecia Tablets for Hair Loss in Men
The most widely available hair loss tablet in the UK is Finasteride, which is the generic drug of the branded treatment Propecia. This means that they are the same drug, but Finasteride is a cheaper version.
You take one tablet of Finasteride (or Propecia) every day, with or without food.
Dutasteride/Avodart Tablets for Hair Loss in Men
Another hair loss treatment in tablet form is Dutasteride, which is the generic name of the drug Avodat. Again, the generic form is the cheapest version, while Avodat is the branded form.
The recommended dose of Dutasteride (or Avodat) is one daily, half an hour after food.
How do Hair Loss Tablets Work?
Both Finasteride and Dutasteride prevent testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT – a hormone that results in male pattern baldness.
Which is Better, Finasteride or Dutasteride?
They are both similar. However, Dutasteride is considered more effective because it inhibits types I, II, and III of the 5α-reductase enzymes that convert testosterone into DHT. Finasteride only blocks type II and type III.
This means that Dutasteride reduces up to 98 percent of circulating DHT levels in the body. Finasteride reaches a reduction of up to 65 per cent.
What are the Side-Effects of Hair Loss Tablets?
Some of the most common side-effects of Finasteride and Dutasteride include:
- Problems Ejaculating
- Enlarged Breasts
- Low Libido
- Erectile Dysfunction
So, do Hair Loss Tablets Really Work?
There is no simple answer to this question, as everyone reacts differently to the medication. Most men will see a difference in around six months to a year of taking hair loss tablets. Some men see a considerable difference, while others will only notice a small change. They are most effective when combined with a topical treatment as well, such as Minoxidil or PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatments.
However, it is worth considering the side effects of hair loss tablets. Both treatments can cause birth defects, so you must be very careful using them around women of childbearing age, and always use a condom during sexual intercourse. They can cause sexual function impairment that can have serious impacts on mental health, and they have been connected to depression.
There is considerable evidence that hair loss tablets do work. However, there is no guarantee they will work for you. The side-effects, however, can be considerable, especially if you live with women or children. So it is worth looking for treatments with fewer side-effects, such as PRP or topical solutions, that are considered a lot safer.