Finasteride is a pill that is taken once a day.
How It Works
Finasteride lowers the level of
androgens, a class of hormone that affects hair
Why It Is Used
Finasteride was originally used to
treat enlarged prostate glands (benign prostatic hyperplasia). In a much lower dose, it is now also used to treat
inherited hair loss in men (androgenetic alopecia), the most common
Finasteride is not effective in postmenopausal women.1 It is not approved for women by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA). Women and children should not use
How Well It Works
Finasteride is recognized as a
successful therapy for inherited hair loss for men. Research reports that it
slows hair loss on the scalp and helps regrow hair.2 But bald
spots may not be completely covered, and visible results may take from a few
months to a year.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
- Reduced sex drive.
- Difficulty getting an erection.
- Ejaculation problems.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects.
(Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Finasteride is for men only.
Women and children should not use it.
Women who are or may become
pregnant should not take or handle crushed or broken tablets because
finasteride can cause birth defects.
Finasteride must be taken
daily. If you stop taking finasteride, any regrown hair will gradually be lost,
and within 6 to 12 months your scalp will most likely appear the same as before
If you are having a prostate screening, tell your
doctor you are taking finasteride because it may affect the results of your
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Unger WP, et al. (2010). Androgenetic alopecia. In MG Lebwohl et al., eds., Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies, 3rd ed., pp. 36–38. Edinburgh: Saunders Elsevier.
Habif TP (2010). Hair diseases. In Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy, 5th ed., pp. 913–935. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
||May 29, 2012