What is Propecia?
Propecia is a prescription medicine for the treatment of hair loss in men. Available as 1mg tablets for daily use, it contains the active ingredient finasteride, which reduces levels of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your scalp. DHT is responsible for hair loss. Used continually over a period of months, Propecia 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. Propecia has a generic counterpart marketed under the name Finasteride.
What is the active ingredient of Propecia?
The active ingredient of Propecia is finasteride. It has been in medical use since 1992 and is used in a variety of hair loss medications, and also to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Finasteride reduces and reverses hair loss by lowering the amount of male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your scalp.
How does Propecia work?
Natural hair growth is cyclic and different hairs on your head are always at different stages of the growth and loss cycle. It is perfectly normal to lose between 20 - 100 head hairs a day and not notice the loss. In genetically susceptible men, the naturally occurring male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) prevents the replacement and new growth of lost hair. This gradually causes thinning, and sometimes complete baldness in affected areas. Hair loss can begin as early as your twenties.
Propecia is taken orally as a daily tablet to treat hair loss. The active ingredient finasteride reduces the level of DHT in your scalp. The process of thinning hair is gradually halted and lost hair may begin to grow back as follicles become active again.
Who can take Propecia?
Propecia is only prescribed to men over the age of 18 (when used as a hair loss treatment). Our online GPs will usually consider prescribing Propecia to men who are suffering from hair loss (male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia). To receive a prescription and medication, you need to meet a few standard health requirements. These are in place to ensure that you can use Propecia safely.
Propecia generally has minimal side effects and most patients are able to use it on a long term basis. There are however contraindications for men receiving treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). If you are already taking medication that contains finasteride or dutasteride, you cannot take Propecia as well. If you are scheduled to take a blood test for BHP, you should also avoid Finasteride as it may cause inaccurate test results.
What doses of Propecia are available?
Propecia is taken as a standard 1mg tablet, it is available either in packets of 28 or 84 tablets. One tablet 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 rise and you will begin losing hair again.
How to take Propecia?
Swallow one Propecia tablet every day with a glass of water. Do not take more than one tablet in any 24 hour period. An increased dosage will not speed up the treatment process and may damage your health. If you forget to take a tablet at the usual time, take the next one as normal, do not double up on your dosage. If you accidentally take too many tablets you should seek immediate medical advice.
Propecia works with the natural growth cycles of your hair, so It may take between 3-6 months of daily use before you see noticeable results. It is very 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 Propecia 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 Propecia. Heavy drinking may reduce the intended beneficial effects of the medication and cause additional health risks.
What are the side effects of Propecia?
If you use Propecia 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 Propecia. 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
Your Propecia 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 experience serious discomfort we recommend that you go straight to your nearest casualty department. In an emergency dial 999.
When not to take Propecia?
Propecia is generally considered to be a mild drug that is easily absorbed by the majority of patients. There are certain circumstances that prevent the use of Propecia for hair loss treatment.
- You are not an adult male
- You are receiving treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) with a medication containing finasteride or dutasteride
- You are waiting to take 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.