I abruptly stopped taking Propecia for my hair loss in late March because of some horrendous health problems I experienced. I had been on the medication for about 5 months, and I felt like my hair shedding was finally slowing down, and most of the side effects I initially had from it had disappeared. I don’t know if I had experienced any growth from the medication, but my hair stopped getting worse while I was on it, and if I had stuck with it just a few more months, I would have known for sure if it was working or not.
So why did I stop it? Things were going decently for me in February and March and I had started eating healthier again, I was trying to make more money, and I started up a new regimen of daily running (something I had never done before). I was feeling good about myself, and then one day I developed this bladder problem where I felt like I drank a giant Big Gulp eight hours earlier and couldn’t find a bathroom. The feeling was constant (even after I peed), and it was horrible. I never gave much thought to women that had overactive bladders, but it’s an awful feeling. I ended up in Urgent Care for the first time in my life – that’s how freaked out I was. After seeing a few doctors and testing negative for UTIs, I decided I had to go off the Propecia in case it was causing the problem. Since Propecia changes your hormones, and there are estrogen receptors in your bladder, I figured there was a chance the Propecia was the culprit. I also had been having really heavy periods for the past year (which started when I went on Spironolactone), so I thought maybe Propecia was causing a fibroid to grow (or causing some sort of hormone imbalance).
After seeing a Urologist who told me I probably had an incurable bladder inflammation disease called Interstitial Cystitis, I lost it. I went into the worst depression of my life and almost ended up in a mental hospital. The doctor told me the urgent urination problem may never go away, and between that, the fact my hair was falling out and I had to give up Propecia – my last ditch effort to save my hair, and the fact that I had no money and no idea how to get a decent job, the stress was just too much. Looking back, I know that Propecia can cause depression, but I was doing okay until the bladder issue struck, so I don’t know if Propecia had any impact on my mental state.
I went down to eating like 500 calories a day because I was so depressed, and between that, going off the Propecia, and my extreme stress and depression, my hair started shedding dramatically again. The only good news is that I finally lost the 15 pounds I’ve been trying to lose the last 5 years. The fact that I couldn’t lose weight until I nearly starved myself to death makes me think I really do have a thyroid problem, which could be making everything worse. I will soon be going to a doctor that does bio-identical hormone testing, which includes testing for thyroid issues, adrenal problems, and hormone imbalances. I’m starting to think my extreme stress has caused an adrenal problem (and maybe the running was too much for my body?), and I have had thyroid problems before that I have never able to treat successfully.
Because of the extreme depression, I was started on an antidepressant. I have been anxious and depressed for years, but was afraid to go on medication because they all potentially cause hair loss and weight gain. Of course my depression and anxiety were so bad these last few years that they probably made my hair loss worse than what any medication could do. I was initially treated with Effexor, but had a severe reaction to it (Serotonin Syndrome), which has permanently changed the vision in my left eye (after just one dose). I then started on Zoloft, and within four days I could feel it working, and now that it’s been a few weeks, I’m back to where I was emotionally before this whole nightmare began. I’m not happy – but I’m able to function. I also started counseling at a free mental health clinic (at least one thing is free, unlike the doctor bills – good grief).
Now that I know I’m going to live, I’m back to facing the fact that my hair is horrible (and it’s a lot worse than it was just two months ago). Even though I feel like this mess was a sign I should stay away from Propecia, I’m still contemplating going back on it. That’s probably a bad idea. I had a pelvic ultrasound done, and it was discovered that I do have a fibroid, and probably a uterine polyp – both of which could be causing the heavy bleeding. And both issues could have been caused by the Spironolactone (and maybe the Propecia).
My bladder problem is better – but not completely cured. There are moments, and even hours, where I feel okay. I still don’t know if I have Interstitial Cystitis or not. For the last few weeks I’ve been on an elimination diet to see if I have hidden food sensitivities that are causing the bladder problem. Since I’ve had sooo many health issues during the past twenty years, I keep wondering if all of my symptoms are caused by one thing – maybe it’s food allergies, or mercury poisoning, or a hormone imbalance, or hypothyroid, or maybe my depression and anxiety are causing most of the issues. I hope I will get some answers from the bio-identical doctor.
I have basically given up on my hair at this point because I’ve run out of hope it will ever get better. Maybe the Zoloft will help, and if I go back on the Propecia maybe that will help too. But I think I’m nearly a lost cause. I had to give up on my hair to save myself, if that makes sense. So that’s what’s been happening with me. I know my blog is frustrating because I am trying to find a cure for hair loss, and I just end up with one dead-end after another. Am I crazy to consider going back on Propecia?