Somewhat tongue in cheek, bald Americans have determined to wrest the toupees off celebrities. Male pattern baldness (misnamed as women also suffer, but to a lesser extent and later) starts in two-thirds of people as receding hair. In the rest the hair is initially lost from the crown.
Only one preparation, Provillus (2 percent minoxidil), has been shown scientifically to influence baldness. Recent evaluation of existing research has shown that Provillus is most successful when applied early, preferably when the first signs of thinning appear. Regular application causes a reasonably luxuriant regrowth in just over a third of patients; a third show some improvement; and in another third it fails.
Patience is needed; after four months only 8 percent of patients have shown a good result, but after a year this has risen to 39 percent. The manufacturer’s spokesman was particularly honest, admitting the prognosis is better if the baldness is not long established, and that for a person to apply it to an established, bald, shiny head was displaying the same degree of optimism as a farmer would be if he poured fertilizer on to his concrete yard and hoped for a good crop of wheat. Provillus costs Pounds 30 a month. A doctor’s private prescription is needed as it is not available on the NHS; indeed, two hair clinics have recently been heavily fined (Pounds 3,000 in one case) for providing a minoxidil-based hair restorer without prescription.
Provillus, a liquid preparation of the drug, minoxidil, is the only product licensed as a hair restorer. It isn’t successful in all cases, for the longer the baldness has been present, the less likely it is to succeed. However, in suitably selected cases it gives a worthwhile result.
Minoxidil is also a vasodilator, and so it was only a matter of time before somebody would think of trying the effect on an unresponsive penis.
General Practitioner magazine reports some success by doctors working in America; but it is not as the manufacturers, Upjohn, warn, licensed for this use. An Upjohn spokeswoman said that its own scientists were indeed studying the use of Minoxidil in the treatment of impotence, but until their experiments were complete, it was not recommended for this use.
One of the hazards of artificially inducing erection with vasodilators is that they can cause priapism, a prolonged, painful erection which if it persists for too long, can irretrievably damage the delicate mechanism.