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What is Finasteride?

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a prescription-only treatment for male pattern baldness. It's proven to be very effective at slowing hair loss and even encouraging regrowth. A study has shown it's up to 90% effective. In this article we'll look at the key info you'll need to know about the medication and where you can request it. 

How does Finasteride work?

Hair loss caused by male pattern baldness occurs when a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone) prevents hair follicles from getting the vital nutrients they need to live. Finasteride blocks the production of DHT and thus protects the hair follicles that produce hair. Reducing DHT can stop and even reverse hair loss caused by male pattern baldness.

How effective is Finasteride?

Very. Finasteride has been shown to be clinically effective in 90% of men with male pattern baldness. Two thirds of men who take Finasteride correctly go on to experience hair regrowth. However it is a treatment for hair loss, not a cure: you must continue to take Finasteride to enjoy the benefits. Finasteride works most effectively for men with mild to moderate male pattern baldness.

How long until Finasteride starts to work?

Results won’t be immediately apparent. Generally you need to take Finasteride once a day for three-six months before you start experiencing the effects. Ideally you should continue taking Finasteride for at least a year to confirm whether it is effective for you. Be aware, even if you experience extremely positive results you must continue to take Finasteride to maintain the effect.

Taking Finasteride

Finasteride is taken as a tablet once a day, on its own or with food. You must take Finasteride regularly to experience results. It is recommended you incorporate the Finasteride tablet into your daily routine to ensure you don’t forget it. For examples, take the tablet at a regular time each day: in the morning, say, or just before you go to sleep at night. Don’t take the tablet more than once: as this will not increase its effectiveness and may cause harm.

What are the side effects of Finasteride?

Very few men experience side effects when taking Finasteride. However, all medicines comes with risks and occasionally some men might experience a reduced sex drive or problems ejaculating. A rash or tenderness around the nipples are also potential side effects for some men.

Warnings about Finasteride

Like all medications there are certain risks you should be aware of when you or someone close to you is taking Finasteride:

  • Pregnant women handling Finasteride: Pregnant women should not handle crushed or broken Finasteride tablets. The medication can be absorbed through the skin and damage unborn babies. 
  • Prostate cancer risks: Taking Finasteride can affect a blood test called a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA), which is done when screening for prostate cancer. If you’re taking Finasteride and have one of these tests, you’ll need to let your doctor know as Finasteride decreases the levels of PSA in the body. 

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you miss a dose of Finasteride, simply skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not try to take the missed doses. 

Will Finasteride cure my hair loss?

As above, Finasteride is a treatment and not a cure. If you stop taking Finasteride the DHT hormone that causes hair loss will eventually return to levels that cause hair loss. To keep the levels of DHT low you must continue to take Finasteride on a daily basis. However, if taken like this you will have a 90% chance of slowing hair loss, and some men will even see regrowth. .

What are the alternatives to Finasteride?

There are very few licensed and clinically proven hair loss treatments in Ireland. Below is a brief list of some clinical and cosmetic alternatives to Finasteride. 

  • Minoxidil is a lotion or foam applied to the scalp. It's less effective than Finasteride but doesn’t require a prescription. 
  • Hair transplants can be clinically effective, but they can be extremely expensive and success isn’t guaranteed.
  • Wigs don’t treat hair loss but they certainly conceal it. Modern wigs look very natural and come much cheaper than most treatments. However the hair loss will continue.

Other uses for Finasteride

Finasteride is used to treat men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is caused by an enlarged prostate. Men with BPH usually have difficulty urinating, a decreased flow of urination, hesitation at the beginning of urination, and a need to get up at night to urinate. Finasteride will make these symptoms less severe and reduce the chance that prostate surgery will be needed.

Dosage of Finasteride for male pattern baldness

When treating hair loss, 1mg of Finasteride is taken daily. 

Dosage of Finasteride for BPH

When treating BPH, 5mg of Finasteride is taken daily. 

Where can I get Finasteride?

As Finasteride is only available on prescription, you'll need to consult a doctor in person or online before you can take it. 

Can I buy Finasteride online?

Yes, you can request a Finasteride prescription online from our team of doctor at Lloyds Online Doctor. Before placing an order you must take an online consultation to check your suitability for the medication. 

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Authors and editors

Reviewed and updated by: Our clinical team Date reviewed: 30-09-2023