Hi everyone! Well I've decided to finally join this forum as it seems to be the only place on the internet where I can get real information. To sum up my personal info: I am a 23-year old female, no known hormonal imbalances (just "androgen sensitive") living in the Northeast. I'm going to try and make my story with hair loss short and to the point, and then I'd like to ask your experiences/advice! My History I never had very thick or coarse hair. As a child I didn't even notice I had hair. I hated combs and walked around with a mop on my head. I wish I'd appreciated how lucky I was! In late middle school/early high school I developed progressively severe eating disorder(s), which still hasn't completely been relinquished (I know, I know) and I feel this may or may not have set off a genetic marker for what would have come later in life: hair loss. My hair became thinner and thinner, finer and wispier, and I had no idea that this was an actual problem that I could have addressed at the time. I felt it was the purple elephant in the room. I avoided the subject of hair with people and my social anxiety worsened. I'd occasionally receive a nasty comment or disguised insult. A nice person would say my hair was "soft," or "wow... *touches* your hair is SO thin." A few mean people would say I was balding and needed Rogaine. I envied people even with the most unruly, badly textured hair. So long as it was there, I would have cherished it if it were my own... Unfortunately, even when my bulimia was subdued for long periods of time, my hair never improved. At age 19 I started researching and becoming obsessed with hair extensions. I spent $1500 on what I thought were top quality extensions, only to spend another $100 to have them taken out a week later because they were complete torture. It was a bitter shame and a huge disappointment. I continued living in denial that something was wrong with me for months. Finally, almost a year later, I started researching female hair loss, and came across the term "androgenetic alopecia." That was me, I knew it. My boyfriend at the time said he didn't think so, as did my parents, and the few other people I entrusted with this shameful "secret".... but I went against their advice and consulted a Dermatologist (April, 2009), which is where my adventures of regrowth started. Treatment History (2009-Present) First Round: I never had a scalp biopsy, which I wish now I had pushed, but I don't think it was necessary. My dermatologist knew almost instantly that it was Androgenetic Alopecia, and she prescribed me Spironolactone 50 mg/day and told me to use Rogaine 5% (foam- full strength) 1-2x/day. I also had hormone levels, etc. checked, and everything of course was fine. I have a hypothyroid but it's been stable for years. For the first month I was only to use the Rogaine. Within a few weeks my hair was falling out massively, and my depression levels were all but declining. Luckily I had read enough on my own on the internet to know that this is likely normal, even though the DERMATOLOGIST, HERSELF didn't and said I should stop it. A month later, my hair was growing in like it had never before, and to say I was ecstatic would be a huge understatement. It was summertime and I was confident, no more purple elephant and more social than ever. Friends asked me if I'd had hair extensions and my hair literally must have grown 3" over night. Bad things: Hair growth on my forehead. I HATE and have to constantly keep up with. Is this common and do you all have this problem too? How do you deal with it? The sudden growth didn't continue though, it stagnated and slightly declined after another month or two, but I was still happy. Even so, when I went for a follow-up visit with my dermatologist a few months later, she had the nerve to tell me, "we don't want you bald by the time you're 50." I guess that was necessary... Second Round: In early 2010, I convinced my Dermatologist to increase my Spironolactone dosage to 100 mg/day. I also decided to start ordering Diane 35 off the internet (I live in USA, so it's not available here) against her advice. The first few months were not so good, but I knew to wait it out. My hair was falling out all the time, and there was a short interim period where my skin was breaking out more than usual (rarely have any major skin problems). I figured both the increased Spironolactone dose plus the addition of the BC was probably to blame, and I'm glad I stuck it out. 4-5 months in, and my hair was growing in healthier. For the first time since puberty I could skip washing my hair every single day, and I didn't have grease practically dripping off my scalp in the mornings. Diane did cause my skin to become a bit dry, but it's well worth it. My skin also cleared up substantially. When I visited the Dermatologist next, she was amazed and even commented that "don't worry, Dianette will be available in the U.S. soon." She must have missed the headline that Diane 35 is not exactly new, lol. She seemed to covertly be recommending it to other patients after she saw my improvement. Third Round: A few months later, in the summer of 2011 I heard an advertisement for a different Dermatologist in my area on the radio that I liked, so I'd decided to give him a shot, since I really didn't like the one I had. Unlike the other one, he agreed to up my Spironolactone dosage to 200 mg (the supposed optimal amount for APA) and even gave me a prescription for Propecia, with a warning of course to not get pregnant. The Propecia would cost >$80 at the pharmacy, since it is not covered by insurance! Well I said screw that and found Avodart online instead. I must say in the next few months I think the Spironolactone increase alone did help a lot, and I saw my hair grow pretty fast, similar to how it did after Rogaine. No increased shedding with this upped dosage that I noticed. Fourth Round: I finally got Avodart around late November/beginning December (ordering problems- it was an overseas company so I forgive them for the delay). I haven't really even thought about it, as I was already very happy with the point at which my hair had improved. I have had several new doctor appointments in the meantime where they asked why I was using Rogaine + Spironolactone, and when I told them they acted flabbergasted. One doctor said 'your hair looks full to me,' and a nurse said 'I never would have known!' I'm sure you guys can imagine how reassuring those things were. So I wonder if I should have even bothered with Avodart, since I was already satsified... I guess i figure that now all my bases are covered. 'Well I have now been using Avodart for around 3 months, and the past few weeks my hair is shedding like crazy! From what I've read online, it does seem normal for that to happen within a few months of starting, but it's such a disappointment. I'd gotten used to only seeing a few hairs come out in the shower, and now it's almost an entire handful! I do wonder if this might have be aggravated by the fact that I'd gotten slightly lazy on the Rogaine applications and I've been emotionally very depressed the past few months as well, and not taking care of my body very well nutritionally. I've also noticed my skin is becoming slightly greasier with a slightly higher propensity for breakouts, which I'd assume is related to the increased Testosterone (which seems to result from diminished DHT?). Besides all that though, what are your experiences with Dutasteride?? how long until the shedding stops and when can you see improvement afterwards? My current plan is to continue as I've been and give the Dutasteride a year. If I don't see improvement with the Avodart after that, I may try Flutamide instead. Well I guess this post has wound up pretty long so I sincerely thank anyone and everyone who reads it! I look forward to meeting with and talking with all of you. Thanks!