Firstly, apologies for the length of this review. I've been meaning to write it for some time.
I started losing my hair around the age of 19, and by the time I was 22 this became fairly pronounced - receding at the front, thinning on top, and balding at the back. I desperately wanted to do something about it, and despite being a self-confessed sceptic, I decided to start using Regaine after coming across the advert on TV (interestingly, the actors featuring in the advert all have full heads of hair, and clearly don't need the Regaine in the first place) and reading positive reviews on the internet. I used Regaine Extra Strength Foam twice a day as directed for the best part of a year, and admittedly, it does seem to prevent further hair loss. HOWEVER, I started to experience some serious side-effects in the three months preceding my discontinuation; ultimately resulting in my withdrawal from Regaine altogether.
Three severe side-effects I personally experienced:
1) Acute Lethargy - feeling barely conscious for extended periods of time (up to two/three hours), even during the middle of the day after a good night's sleep. It's a very hard feeling to describe, but the best I can do is the sensation of being trapped in a sluggish stupor, and being unable to `switch on' during these periods. I frequently found that I was feeling incredibly dazed, as well as finding it very difficult to absorb information in lectures which I had no problem in engaging in previously. After discontinuing use, I have ceased experiencing this, and now feel sharp and alert for the majority of the day.
2) Male problems - persistent inability to attain a 'decent' erection, with no ability to become hard, as well as a experiencing severely reduced arousal and sexual drive. After researching on internet forums, I noticed that many people were complaining of similar sexual side-effects after using the American equivalent, Rogaine. According to one urologist, the dysfunction is due to the fact that "Minoxidil is a vascular dilator. During a normal erection, the tunica and base of penis is constricted in a way not to allow blood to flow out. Minoxidil causes blood not to be able to stay in penis because it dilates the base of penis. This results in impotence or temporary erectile dysfunction". This was desperately worrying for me at 23, especially after reading horror stories of men permanently debilitated as a result of using Rogaine, but thankfully, a week after discontinuing use, erection quality had dramatically improved, and after two weeks everything was back to `hard as a rock' working order. There is some debate about this, but for me, this was conclusive proof that the Regaine had caused this problem.
3) An inflamed and extremely itchy red scalp, producing dry skin and scalp psoriasis. This did not seem to fade, regardless of the variety of specialist shampoos I bought to counteract the problem. This is the only one of my three side-effects mentioned in the provided Regaine leaflet, and has now stopped since I ceased usage.
Some (hopefully helpful) thoughts:
Male pattern baldness seems like such an unnecessary condition to have, especially for those in their early twenties such as myself. I think this is partly due to modern societal obsessions with beauty, resulting in pressure to constantly look your best, and the perpetuated notion that somehow hair loss represents a decline in your prime/best years. The main issue it caused for me was lack of confidence, especially with women, and constantly worrying what other people were thinking/seeing.
However, after trying, and ultimately failing, to improve my hair loss situation I can only conclude that if you have this problem, it seems far better to embrace it rather than constantly worrying and trying in vain to restore what is basically the superficial. I figure from recent experience that confidence is an internal characteristic, and is far more attractive to the majority of women than the superficial. I currently have my hair shaved short around the sides, and left alone, in a sort of Mohawk style on the top which extends down the back. When this is no longer possible, I'll buy myself an electric razor and start to crop it short all over. In all honesty when you look, male pattern baldness is extremely common, and with increasing age, will only become more widersread among your age group.
To conclude, I understand the experience of using Regaine is relatively specific to the person, as is the unique pattern/condition of hair loss, BUT if you are planning on trying the product out, I would recommend doing so with extreme caution and ceasing usage if experiencing any of debilitating side-effects such as the first two I listed. Ultimately, although effective at preventing further hair loss, the Regaine NEVER restored my hair to its former glory, even after a year's usage. All I ever managed to produce was a light 'vellus' hair that was similar in appearance to fair arm hair or new born baby hair. I don't believe this ever would have turned into decent 'proper' hair, no matter how long I used Regaine. Even though the Regaine was fairly effective at reducing my hair loss, in my opinion, it is definitely not worth suffering the debilitating side-effects.