What is Finasteride?
Finasteride (also available as branded treatment Propecia) is a medicine that reduces hair loss resulting from male pattern baldness.
For men with receding or thinning hair, Finasteride can help prevent further loss and sometimes encourage regrowth.
It comes in the form of tablets and you'll take one every day. It has proven to be effective for 90% of men when taken as prescribed.
What is Finasteride used for?
Finasteride and Propecia are used to treat male pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness, medically referred to as androgenetic alopecia, is a hereditary condition that can be inherited from either the mother's or father's side of the family. This particular type of hair loss is characterised by a gradual thinning of hair on the scalp, typically beginning at the front and sides of the head and gradually progressing towards the back.
Finasteride at a higher dose is also used to treat some prostate conditions.
How does Finasteride work for hair loss?
Male pattern hair loss, also referred to as androgenetic alopecia, is primarily caused by dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that disrupts the natural hair growth cycle. This hormonal imbalance causes hair follicles to shrink and shorten, making it easier for it to fall out and more difficult to regrow.
Finasteride helps stabilise and reverse this process by reducing the amount of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, responsible for converting testosterone to DHT on your scalp. By reducing DHT levels, Finasteride can help prevent further hair loss and promote hair regrowth.
It's worth noting that the effects of Finasteride are limited to the scalp and do not cause hair growth in other areas of the body. Additionally, individuals with damaged hair follicles or scalp conditions should address these issues before or while taking Finasteride to enhance the likelihood of successful regrowth.
If you're wondering about Finasteride's effectiveness over time, it's important to know that the effects of this treatment only continue while you are taking the medicine. If you stop taking the tablets, results will stop and will most likely reverse within six months.
How do I take Finasteride?
You should take one Finasteride tablet daily. The best time of day to take Finasteride is whichever time is most convenient for you and when you will be most likely to remember to take the pill daily. We'd recommend setting an alarm to remind you to take it every day. It can be taken with or without food.
You must take one tablet each day to see any results. If you stop taking tablets or don't take them every day then the treatment won't be effective.
Finasteride 1mg tablets are to be taken once daily for male pattern hair loss.
Do not take more than one tablet per day to try and increase your dosage. Finasteride will not work any faster or more effectively in this way and it could pose serious health risks.
Please note that although Finasteride 5 mg is also produced, it is only licensed for prostate enlargement and therefore not prescribed for hair loss and should not be used as a replacement.
Is Finasteride effective?
Clinical studies have shown that when taken as a daily tablet, Finasteride has proven to be effective in reducing the progression of hair loss in approximately 80-90% of men who use it. Additionally, some men may experience hair regrowth, especially if they start taking Finasteride as soon as they notice signs of hair loss.
What are the main side effects of Finasteride and Propecia?
You might be wondering if Finasteride is safe?
Side effects while taking Finasteride are uncommon. The most common side effects experienced are skin rash, nipple tenderness or swelling, depression, reduced sex drive or erectile problems. For more information on side effects, here is a link to the Patient Information Leaflet.
More on depression with Finasteride or Propecia:
If you experience new depression, anxiety, or worsening of these symptoms while taking Finasteride, it's important to stop using it and consult your doctor promptly.
If you're experiencing hair loss that's impacting your life, consider seeking support from your GP or engaging in counselling. Connecting with individuals facing similar circumstances can also provide valuable support. The Alopecia UK website is a fantastic resource to find local resources and support groups.
More on erectile problems with Finasteride:
About 1.5% of men experience a reduced sex drive or erectile problems after taking 1mg Finasteride. If you notice a sustained decline in libido or encounter issues with erections while using Finasteride, you should stop it. There are some reports of men having ongoing difficulty with erections even after stopping Finasteride.
What else should I know about Finasteride?
Finasteride can potentially harm a male foetus in pregnant women. If your partner is pregnant, you must use condoms and she should not handle the tablets. You should not use this treatment if you're trying to get your partner pregnant.
What are alternative hair loss treatments?
Minoxidil scalp treatment — minoxidil 5% solution — has been clinically validated for reducing hair loss when applied to the scalp twice daily.
Is Finasteride the same as Propecia? Finasteride is the non-branded equivalent of Propecia. Both medicines include the same active ingredient (finasteride) and come as a once daily, 1mg tablet. They work in exactly the same way and will produce exactly the same results.
Finasteride is considerably cheaper than Propecia, simply because it is a non-branded medicine so comes without the fancy name or packaging.
What are the non-drug alternatives to Finasteride?
There are some aesthetic solutions to hair loss such as:
- Hair styling techniques: dyeing and using skin camouflage make up sprays and mousses
- Hairpieces: wigs and hair extensions can be used but it's important to be cautious as they may exert pulling on existing follicles
In more severe cases, surgical treatments like hair transplantation can be an option. It's crucial to note that the maintenance of a hair transplant requires the ongoing use of Finasteride or Minoxidil.
How long does Finasteride take to work?
Finasteride can slow down hair loss and potentially promote regrowth, although complete reversal of hair loss is uncommon. Finasteride 1 mg tablets typically take about 3-6 months of continuous use to see stabilisation of hair loss.
What happens if you stop taking Finasteride?
The peak hair growth is usually achieved after 2 years, but ongoing treatment is necessary to maintain the results. Discontinuing your Finasteride treatment may lead to a reversal of the beneficial effects within 6 months, with a return to baseline within 9-12 months.
Buy Finasteride online
You can buy Finasteride online through our convenient, discreet online doctor service. Just like your local GP, we're here to support you with expert, confidential hair loss advice and treatment but without the travel and waiting time.
Just fill out our quick online consultation and we can prescribe Finasteride if suitable for you.
Other types of hair loss
Finasteride is only for the treatment of hair loss caused by male pattern baldness.
If you are experiencing hair loss for other reasons, such as stress, illness, or cancer treatment, this treatment is not suitable for you. Please talk to your GP if you have concerns about hair loss not caused by male pattern baldness.