Finasteride comes in two doses, 5mg and 1mg. The 5mg dose is given to patients with prostate problems while the 1mg dose is for treating hair loss. My NHS doctor is unable to prescribe the 1mg dose as it is too expensive for NHS budgets, so he gave me a prescription for the 5mg tablets and instructed me to buy a pill cutter. I cut each pill into quarters and take a quarter each day for four days before taking nothing on the fifth day and then repeating the cycle. I have to be very careful to keep any particles of the broken pills from getting anywhere near my wife, as were she to become pregnant there is a risk it can cause birth defects in male children.
Finasteride has several side-effects, as this quick cut-and-paste from Wikipedia describes:
Side effects of finasteride include impotence (1.1% to 18.5%), abnormal ejaculation (7.2%), decreased ejaculatory volume (0.9% to 2.8%), abnormal sexual function (2.5%), gynecomastia (2.2%), erectile dysfunction (1.3%), ejaculation disorder (1.2%) and testicular pain.So which of those have I had? To be honest, I'd have to say none of them, at least not as described there. I have noticed a reduction in unwanted arousal, that's about it. As someone with a brain from the girl parts bin I find that particular side-effect to be welcome, lessening as it does the intrusion of blokedom when I don't want it. And no gynaecomastia. How sad, to think there will be patients seeing that effect who are all bloke and hate it, while I who wouldn't mind it am steadfastly flat-chested.
How about the hair? I should have had a tattooist inscribe a ruler on my scalp so I could chart any hairline movement. Sadly though I didn't, so I have no idea whether I've advanced, receded or stayed still. But that's not really the point. I asked for finasteride because I could see hairs every day on my desk at work. Not huge numbers of them, but more than I used to see when I was younger and their numbers were increasing. In the last few months I am pleased to say this is no longer happening. I no longer have to worry whether my desk is covered in hairs before someone comes over for me to show them something.
In conclusion, I think it was worth asking my doctor for this prescription. It won't give me significantly more hair and anyway having a bloke life to maintain I'm keeping it to a buzz-cut, but I'm seeing evidence that it's reversed any decline I had. The funny thing is that as a bloke I have no problem with hair loss - after all, look at Patrick Stewart! - but as a girl I recognise that it's possible I could find myself very glad at some point in the future that I took some steps now to hang on to my hair. If I reach that position I'd imagine I'll be in one hell of a state, no point in making it any worse needlessly.