What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a treatment for androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). Both finasteride and the branded version, Propecia, use the same active ingredient (finasteride), and work in the same way.

Male pattern baldness is caused by the body’s production of testosterone; some of this testosterone is converted into a form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can cause hair follicles to enter a state of stasis, where they eventually die off. During this stasis, the follicle will hold onto hair until it is broken, and then be unable to produce any more. As blood flow to these follicles is reduced, they cannot maintain their nutrients, and eventually the cells that produce hair will die.

Finasteride blocks the enzyme which converts testosterone to DHT, meaning it can prevent you from losing more hair. It does not cause hair to grow back; however, in some cases, follicle cells which have been in stasis may begin to recover, though these are a small number in most cases. Finasteride only targets the hair on the head; loss of body hair is often linked to other forms of alopecia.


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Does Finasteride Work?

Finasteride has been shown to be very effective as a treatment for hair loss; however, it should be used long term to see the best results. The normal treatment course is at least 3 – 6 months, taken daily.

Finasteride Effectiveness

90% of men who have mild to moderate hair loss have reported positive effects from taking finasteride. While for those men with severe hair loss, there is limited evidence to show its effectiveness.

A five-year study comparing men who took daily finasteride vs a placebo found that over 80% of men taking finasteride notice their hair loss halted within 6 – 12 months and 66% reported some hair regrowth. The entire placebo group reported hair loss.

As your body constantly produces testosterone, you will find that your hair loss will continue once you stop taking finasteride.

Some patients may also choose to use other hair loss treatments as well, such as minoxidil. FInasteride and minoxidil work differently, meaning they can be used together to slow hair loss and increase your likelihood of keeping the hair you have.

Finasteride Results

Finasteride begins to take effect to treat hair loss shortly after starting treatment, but not instantaneously. Once the first dose of finasteride is metabolised in the body, it begins to reduce DHT levels in the body. A clinical trial study has found that finasteride reduces the level of DHT in the body by approximately 70% on average. A daily dose of 1mg is sufficient in keeping DHT production low.

As stated above, a significant number of men taking finasteride showed positive effects when taking finasteride. However, some men may find that they suffer from side effects, or the treatment is otherwise unsuitable for them.

Finasteride does not stop the natural hair growth and loss cycle. You may still notice hair falling out while taking finasteride; this does not mean the treatment isn’t working! It simply means that the usual cycle of growing, shedding and regrowing hair is still taking place in the background.


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Can Finasteride Cause Side Effects?

As with any medication, finasteride can cause side effects. Due to finasteride altering the way your body processes testosterone, many of these side effects can cause or exacerbate issues with sexual performance.

Uncommon side effects of finasteride (affecting roughly 1% of patients) may include;

  • problems getting or maintaining an erection
  • losing interest in sex
  • issues with ejaculating, including reduced volume of ejaculate
  • Depression

In many cases, these side effects can be stopped by stopping treatment.

Side effects are not limited to these; for more information, please read the Patient Information Leaflet.

How to Stop Taking Finasteride

Some patients may choose to stop taking finasteride due to side effects, or because the effects aren’t as pronounced as they hoped. Some patients may need to stop due to conflicts with other medications.

Finasteride needs to be active in the body for it to stop hair loss. If you stop taking finasteride, your body will start converting testosterone to DHT once again.

The half-life of finasteride is 5-6 hours in under 60s and 8 hours in 60-70s. Due to the short half life of the medication, it needs to be taken at the same time daily to ensure the levels remain adequate in the body. By stopping the finasteride medication, the level of the medication in the blood will slowly lower over several days.

There are no known withdrawal symptoms from stopping finasteride; simply miss your next dose, and the levels of finasteride in your system will begin to drop.

How to Order Finasteride

You can order finasteride tablets from Simple Online Pharmacy. Before we can prescribe finasteride, you will need to answer a quick questionnaire, which allows our pharmacists to determine if finasteride is suitable for you. If our pharmacists have no concerns with your answers, they can write a prescription, and our pharmacy team can then arrange delivery straight to your door.