What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is a prescription medicine for the treatment of hair loss in men. Available as 1mg tablets for daily use, it works by reducing levels of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your scalp. DHT is responsible for hair loss. Over a period of months, Finasteride may both reduce and reverse hair loss. But any improvements in hair growth will only continue for as long as you are taking the tablets.
Finasteride is named after its active ingredient and is a generic version of Propecia.
What is the active ingredient of Finasteride?
Finasteride tablets are named after their own active ingredient (also called finasteride). Finasteride has been in medical use since 1992 and is used in a variety of hair loss medications and also in the treatment of enlarged prostates. Finasteride works to combat hair loss by reducing the amount of male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your scalp.
How does Finasteride work?
Throughout your life, your body continually sheds and regrows new hair. The process is cyclic and different hairs on your head are always at different stages of the cycle. At any given time, some hairs are growing, some are in a transitional phase, and some are falling out. The naturally occurring male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) prevents the replacement and new growth of lost hair in genetically susceptible men. This gradually causes thinning, and then baldness in affected areas.
To combat hair loss, Finasteride is taken orally as a daily tablet. The medicine is absorbed into your bloodstream and works to reduce the level of DHT in your scalp. Hair that is naturally lost after beginning treatment is more likely to be replaced. Some hair that was lost before you began treatment may also grow back.
Who can take Finasteride?
Finasteride is only suitable for men (when used as a hair loss treatment). Our online GPs will usually consider prescribing Finasteride to adult men who are suffering from hair loss, also diagnosed as male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia. To get your prescription you must pass a simple online health check to ensure that you can use Finasteride safely.
Finasteride generally has quite mild side effects and few contraindications. But if you are receiving treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) that contains finasteride or dutasteride, you cannot take Finasteride for hair loss. If you are scheduled to take a blood test for BHP, you should also avoid Finasteride as it may lead to inaccurate test results.
What doses of Finasteride are available?
Finasteride is available in a standard 1mg dosage, either in packets of 28 or 84 tablets. One tablet of 1mg is taken daily for as long as you want to continue treating your hair loss. If you stop taking the medication the level of the male hormone DHT in your scalp will begin to rise and you will begin losing hair again.
How do I take Finasteride?
Take one tablet daily with a glass of water. Do not take more than one tablet in any 24 hour period, you will not improve results by taking a larger dosage and may harm your health. If you forget to take a tablet at the usual time, take the next one as normal. You should not take a double dose. If you accidentally exceed the dosage you should seek immediate medical advice.
It may take between 3-6 months for Finasteride to take full effect and it is important to keep on taking the medication during this transitional period. You should then continue to take a daily tablet to maintain hair growth.
Can I take Finasteride and drink alcohol?
Our GPs generally do not recommend combining alcohol with any prescription medication. Moderate consumption of alcohol is unlikely to cause any side effects or lead to additional risks when combined with Finasteride. Heavy drinking may reduce the intended beneficial effects of the medication and cause additional risks and problems.
What are the side effects of Finasteride?
Your Finasteride tablets will come with a patient leaflet giving detailed information about the medication, its ingredients, possible side effects, and contraindications. Please read this leaflet carefully before you take any tablets. Keep the leaflet with the medication for future reference.
If you use Finasteride tablets exactly as directed by our online GP you are unlikely to experience any significant unwelcome side effects. A small minority of patients may experience some minor side effects.
Uncommon (affecting up to 1% of users):
- Decreased sexual drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Problems with ejaculation
Possible issues (frequency cannot be estimated from the data currently available):
- Pain in the testicles
- Fast heartbeat
- Persistent difficulty achieving an erection
- Infertility has been reported in men who took finasteride for a long time and had other risk factors that may affect fertility. Normalisation or improvement of seminal quality has been reported after discontinuation of finasteride. Long-term clinical studies about the effect of finasteride on fertility in men have not been conducted.
- Changes in the way your liver is working, which can be shown by a blood test.
Very rarely patients may experience an adverse reaction to Finasteride. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should discontinue your treatment and seek immediate medical advice.
- Swelling of the face, lips or tongue, throat.
- Problems with swallowing
- Itching, skin rash
- Difficulties with breathing
- Pain and enlargement of the breast
If you experience serious discomfort we recommend that you go straight to your nearest casualty department. In an emergency dial 999.
When not to take Finasteride?
Finasteride is generally suitable for most healthy men. There are few contraindications and possible side effects are usually mild. However there are some circumstances when you should not take Finasteride as a treatment for hair loss.
- You are not a man over the age of 18
- You are taking medication for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) that contains finasteride or dutasteride
- You are scheduled to undergo a blood test for BHP
The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet included in the pack with a medicine. It is written for patients and gives information about taking or using a medicine. It is possible that the leaflet in your medicine pack may differ from the PDF-version from this website because it may have been updated since your medicine was packaged or the medicine is from another brand.