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Frequently Asked Questions

Oral Meds hair remover FAQs

Here are some of your frequently asked questions that relate to prescription and non-prescription hair growth inhibitor oral medications for both men and women:

How do oral medications work?

Oral medications work as a hair removal method by reducing the production of androgens (for example, testosterone), binding to the cell's androgen receptors, and reducing the conversion of androgens to hair follicle stimulating chemicals (i.e. Dihydrotestosterone - DHT). They work by inhibiting the growth of, rather than removing, hairs as other methods do (i.e. epilators and depilators).

What types of medication are there?

The main types available are:

  • Spironolactone (also known as Aldactone) is arguably the number one excess hair growth (hirsutism) medication used by dermatologists.
  • Finasteride (marketed as Propecia and Proscar) is promoted for use in treating pattern baldness in males. Although Finasteride may not be an appropriate medication in every situation, it is readily available and a relatively safe method.
  • Flutamide is a potent anti-androgen that strongly binds to the cell's androgen receptors in the hair follicles. Studies that compare Flutamide to Spironolactone or Cyproterone acetate suggest that overall the effects on reducing excess growth of hairs are similar.
  • Cyproterone acetate was first used to treat hirsutism back in the mid 1960s. Since then it has become a very popular oral anti-androgen in various parts of Canada, South America and Europe. Flutamide has a slightly superior ability to reduce hirsutism compared to Cyproterone (CPA), but CPA is significantly cheaper than Flutamide. Some dermatologists suggest that the inhibiting effects of CPA are superior to Spironolactone (or Aldactone).
  • Ketoconazole is one of the newer oral meds and is a particularly potent anti-androgen drug. Since the mid 1980s there have been various studies that suggest Ketoconazole could be used to treat hirsutism. Ketoconazole works by reducing or stopping the production of hormones by the ovaries and the adrenal glands.
  • Gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists - there are many different types of GnRH agonists but the most commonly used ones are Leuprolide Acetate, Buserelin and Decapeptyl. GnRH agonists are drugs that reduce ovarian steroid production. Some studies show that GnRH agonists could also be very effective for treating hirsutism where ovarian hyperandrogenism (too much androgen production by the ovaries) is the main problem. Therefore, as GnRH agonists affects ovarian production, they are not very effective if the route cause of hirsutism is the over activity of the adrenal glands.

What are the side effects of oral meds?

Oral medications work by inhibiting the hair's growth rather than destroying follicles (for example, as electrolysis does). They do this by reducing the production of androgens (for example, testosterone). If you are female with high levels of androgens, the side effects may not be noticeable as the reduction of androgen level may bring this back to normal. If you are male with a low level of androgens, the side effects are likely to be more noticeable and may result in enlarged breasts and decreased libido.

In addition to the side effects mentioned above, others may include diuretic symptoms, increased libido (in females), and foetus abnormalities.

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