Main uses in hair loss: male pattern hair loss and rarely other conditions such as frontal fibrosing alopecia and dissecting cellulitis

Other names: Propecia (trade name of 1 mg pill); Proscar (trade name of 5 mg pill)

What is Finasteride?

  • Finasteride is an oral medication which blocks the production of a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone or “DHT”.
  • It is helpful in approximately 90 % of men to either stop hair loss or improve hair density. It seems that finasteride stimulates hair growth in about 48 % of men and stops hair loss in about 42 % of men.  These effects are evident in the first few years of taking Finasteride.  Some decrease in hair density can be seen over time.
  • Finasteride works better on the crown area rather than the frontal hairs but does have an effect on both (especially in younger men)
  • Finasteride can be used with Minoxidil lotion or with hair transplantation
  • It takes about 3-5 months before any changes in hair are seen with finasteride.  Also, if finasteride is stopped, the benefits you have achieved will slowly be lost over a period of 6-12 months. 

How is Finasteride prescribed?

  • The dose is 1 mg daily for hair loss in men. Your doctor will advise you of which dose you should take

Can I use Finasteride with other treatments? 

  • Please advise your doctor all the medications, vitamins and herbal medications you take

Who should not use Finasteride?

There are many reasons why you shouldn't take finasteride. Your doctor may not  prescribe Finasteride if

  • You have liver problems
  • If you have a history of  depression
  • If you are female. Only in special circumstances can finasteride be prescribed to women. It is not FDA approved for use in women.

What side effects are possible with Finasteride?

All men considering using finasteride should speak to their physicians about side effects and whether or not this medication is right for them. 

  • Decreased sex drive (1.8 % of men)
  • Impotence (1.3% of men). Sexual dysfunction with finasteride is more common in older men than younger men, but can happen at any age. 
  • Very rarely, sexual dysfunction has been reported to persist after finasteride was stopped. Exactly how frequently this occurs is unknown.
  • Abnormal ejaculation, decreased ejaculatory volume,
  • Testicular pain
  • Depression and mood changes can occur
  • Gynecomastia (breast enlargement less than 2%)
  • Other side effects are very rare and include rash, numbness around the mouth and swollen glands

What should I also know about finasteride?

  • Women should not touch the Finasteride tablets. Finasteride may affect a woman’s pregnancy. It is not know if it passes in breast milk and therefore should not be used by women who are breast feeding.
  • Finasteride may pass into the semen of men, but not in a high concentration. A woman may have sexual intercourse with a man taking Propecia and even safely get pregnant without concerns for the baby.
  • Many sports agencies banned finasteride because it can mask ‘steroid abuse’.  If you are a competitive athlete check with your local sports authority if you are able to take finasteride.
  • If you are a “blood donor” do not give a blood donation for 1 month after your last dose of finasteride. Also, be sure to tell the blood collection agency of exactly when your last dose of finasteride was.
  • Some experts believe finasteride at high doses such as 5 mg may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. This is extremely controversial.
  • If your family doctor or urologist recommends a PSA test for prostate cancer, you need to double the result you get back from the lab. Finasteride lowers the PSA value, so to get an accurate reading you simply need to double the result. Overall finasteride reduces the risk of prosate cancer.

What side effects should prompt me to STOP Finasteride and get medical advice?

  • Stop taking Finasteride and get medical help immediately if you develop a rash, hives, shortness of breath, swelling in the lips or feel unwell
  • Stop finasteride if you have any concerns at all and report your side effects to the doctor who prescribed the drug
  • Stop if you develop breast enlargement, bumps or lumps in the breast or discharge.

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