Dutasteride is a prescription-only medication that is used for the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is when health complications arise from the natural growth of the prostate, usually in the form of urinary problems or certain types of infections. The market name for dutasteride is Avodart, and it’s manufactured by Glaxo-Smith-Kline Pharmaceuticals.
Dutasteride is a 5 alpha-reductase (5ar) inhibitor. 5aR is a type of enzyme that metabolizes into an androgen (male sex hormone) known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is the hormone that is responsible for causing hair loss in androgenic alopecia, otherwise known as male pattern hair loss (MPH). DHT causes thinning and hair loss as it accumulates in the scalp. Once enough DHT has gathered in a large concentration within the scalp, it will begin to cut off the hair follicle’s blood supply. After its blood supply is severed, the follicle will cease to grow new hair. Fortunately, this problem is oftentimes reversible by lowering the amount of DHT in the body’s system. As their name suggests, 5aR inhibitors such as dutasteride prevent the 5aR enzyme from converting androgens into DHT. Lowering the amount of DHT in the body through this medication prevents DHT from gathering in large concentrations in the scalp, which enables the affected hair follicles to produce healthy hair again.
While they are both 5aR inhibitors, dutasteride in particular reduces a larger amount of DHT than finasteride. Although less DHT does mean a greater chance of reducing hair loss, reducing the amount of DHT by too much could cause drastic hormonal imbalances and create unwanted physiological changes. DHT itself is an androgen that is critical for regulating mood, sex drive, bone density, and muscle mass. It is important to note that there are two types of the 5aR enzyme. Type 2 is largely responsible for converting androgens into DHT, while 5aR Type 1 has other equally important functions that don’t relate to hair loss. Unlike finasteride, dutasteride prevents both types of 5aR enzymes from metabolizing. This is the main difference between the two, and also why dutasteride is currently prescribed for BPH only, and not for hair restoration. However, dutasteride is relatively new, so as the research progresses, it may become approved for hair regrowth in the future. Another difference between the two, according to one official study, is that dutasteride was able to improve the urine flow of those suffering from complications due to BPH. Although the statistical difference was minor, it was still large enough for the researchers to mention. Other than these differences, the two types of medicines have been proven nearly identical in their ability to ease symptoms of BPH. As with finasteride, pregnant women should not handle either medicine type because both medicines are known to cause physical defects in unborn males. A person taking these medicines should refrain from giving blood for a period of at least six months to make sure that the medication has fully left the bloodstream.