At Numan, one of the most vital aspects of what we do is talk to people. We regularly speak with men who have taken action to improve their health and wellbeing, so that we can better understand their experiences and needs. Although hair loss generally has few physically harmful effects, it can have a huge psychological impact, affecting self-esteem, self-image, and social perceptions. This is certainly true of Thomas, who we recently caught up with. He has been taking finasteride for the last three years and has noted the transformative benefits it has had on both his appearance and his mental health.
When did you start noticing you were losing hair? What happened?
My hairline has always shown signs of receding at the temples, during my teens and my early adult life. It did bother me, but I was willing to live with it because of the way I styled my hair; I could make it look less noticeable. However, when I was around 23 years old, I started to notice some odd changes in the way my hair was behaving. I would wake up in the morning with an unsettling amount of hair underneath my pillow.
I maintained a very straightforward routine of applying hair styling products to my hair in my early 20’s, but it became increasingly more difficult to get my hair the way I wanted it. It felt thin, dry, and almost straw-like. The colour of my hair also began to change: the vibrant blonde I was so used to was becoming darker and darker as time went on.
How did your hair loss make you feel?
It made me feel like I was losing my identity. For me, my blonde hair was iconic amongst friends and family: it made me unique. When I began to lose my hair, it caused a lot of stress and anxiety, which, throughout the years impacted my self-esteem and confidence on huge levels. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t check out my hairline in the mirror. It was an obsession.
Did you talk to anyone about your hair loss?
I suffered in silence. I didn’t seek medical help or speak to anyone about it for years. When I was around 23, my brother mentioned that he had started to take finasteride. His hair was thinning all over, and he was going bald at the crown. He’s eight years older than me, so I knew what was in store for me in the future. That’s when I decided to take action.
Why did you decide to start looking at treatment?
It became an obsession because I wanted to feel like I had control over the inevitable. It was destroying my confidence and self-esteem. When I first heard of finasteride, I read up on it, and I thought it was too good to be true. I had no idea something like this existed.
Which treatments did you try? Did you notice any side effects?
At first, I tried minoxidil, but I didn’t notice any drastic improvement. Then I started taking finasteride, and straight away, I felt more confident. Not because my hair grew back instantly, but because I knew that I was doing something about it. After years of obsessing over the thought of losing my hair, I could now wake up in the morning knowing that I was fighting it – it made such a positive impact on my mentality.
As far as side effects go, I experienced brain fog for just under two weeks, for the first month of taking it. However, the benefits will hugely outweigh the possible side effects, and if you’re considering trying finasteride, I would strongly encourage you to do something about it and give it a go.
How long did it take for you to see results?
It took around three years to see the full potential of the medication, although everyone responds to finasteride differently. Obviously, there were improvements before this time, but I didn’t look at my hair as often because I knew that finasteride was fixing it, and I wasn’t obsessed anymore.
What advice would you give someone who is unsure about treating their hair loss?
There comes a point when most men who are experiencing male pattern baldness will wish they had better hair. I believe as soon as that thought is provoked, then that is the time to start. If men are already researching how to treat hair loss, that is the time to start.
For me, my hair loss was an obsession, and it was making social activities and daily life increasingly more difficult. If you have been feeling mentally beaten by hair loss, treatments like finasteride can give you the confidence that you so desperately need. It’s better to start sooner rather than later, in order to maintain what you already have.