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Treating Hair Loss with Finasteride

Last Reviewed: October 2021


Hair Thinning (also known as Male Pattern Hair Loss, Reduced Hair Volume, Menopausal Hair Thinning, Androgenic Alopecia)

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride (the active ingredient in Propecia) was originally used to treat benign prostate enlargement, but was shown to reduce hair loss in some patients and even helped a proportion of users regrow some hair. Finasteride is taken orally as a daily tablet and is not usually recommended for women.

What Does Finasteride Do?

Finasteride is a 5α-reductase inhibitor. This means it blocks the enzyme 5a-reductase, which is responsible for converting testosterone in your body into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is the hormone that triggers hair thinning in those with a genetic sensitivity to it.

There are two types of the enzyme 5α-reductase: Type I and Type II. Finasteride blocks Type II, but not Type I, and Type I is believed to play a more significant role in hair thinning.

Does Finasteride Work?

Whilst Finasteride works very well for some people, it can have no effect for others. Results are primarily down to an individual’s genes, which can influence response to a drug.

Dosage of Finasteride

Finasteride is available from pharmacies and is taken as a daily tablet (containing 1mg). If the tablet works for you, initial results should be seen after three to four months, while full results should be seen after a period of nine to 12 months.
It’s important to note that if you stop taking Finasteride, the beneficial effects on your hair will start to wear off after six months. By 12 months, your hair will revert to its original state before treatment and any hair you have managed to regrow will most likely fall out. This is why it is so important to be consistent when taking Finasteride.

Side Effects of Finasteride

The 1mg a day dosage of Finasteride for male hair thinning does not cause as many side effects as the 5mg dosage given to treat prostate enlargement, but undesirable side effects can still occur.
Possible side effects include (but are not limited to):

- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased libido
- Inability to ejaculate
- Depression

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