Hair loss treatment
Finasteride as a hair loss treatment has proven to be effective in many men that experience androgenetic alopecia (or male-pattern hair loss), but before you begin hair growth treatment with the drug, it’s important to find out whether your hair loss is male-pattern in nature, or whether it’s due to another issue.
Male-pattern hair loss usually begins at the crown, where you might start to notice thinning of the hair of a bald spot. Genetics do play a role in how susceptible you are to androgenetic alopecia, and whilst it’s most common as you age, it can start at a fairly young age for some men. If your hair loss is patchy, sore, or sudden, it’s unlikely that finasteride will help, and you’ll probably need to see a doctor to determine the cause of your alopecia.
Once you’ve determined that your hair loss is androgenetic, you might want to know exactly how finasteride works as a hair loss treatment. Finasteride is mainly used as a treatment to shrink an enlarged prostate, but when taken in smaller doses, it’s effective at reversing the balding process. Finasteride belongs to the 5-alpha reductase inhibitor family of medicines, and it works by blocking an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – a hormone that’s known to contribute to hair loss in males. It’s thought that DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, meaning that hairs become thinner and shorter which ultimately causes hair loss. When taking finasteride as a hair loss treatment, the levels of DHT produced by the body fall, meaning that hair follicles open up again, reversing the balding process.
Finasteride is an oral-route medicine, and must be taken daily to work to its full potential. It’s available in two strengths, but only one is safe to use as a hair growth treatment.
Finasteride 1mg is the strength that you’ll need if you’re using it for hair loss. This is a safe dose for men that aren’t diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, as just enough of the drug is in your system to promote hair growth.
Finasteride 5mg is only for treating an enlarged prostate. If you haven’t been diagnosed with this, you shouldn’t use the 5mg tablets, as this dose isn’t safe for hair loss alone.
Is finasteride safe?
Finasteride 1mg tablets are a safe treatment for androgenetic alopecia for a majority of men. However, there are some exceptions to this. In some instances, finasteride isn’t the most suitable hair loss treatment, especially for those that fall into the following groups:
- Men with allergies to finasteride
- Men that already take finasteride or other 5-alpha reductase inhibitors for other problems
- Men with liver or kidney disease
- Men with a history of prostate cancer or urological problems
For example, if you’re already taking finasteride or similar medicines for an enlarged prostate, you shouldn’t take the 1mg tablets to treat hair loss. In this instance, you should look at topical medicines such as minoxidil (Regaine for men).
It’s also worth noting that pregnant women should not handle finasteride at all – especially crushed or broken tablets. Because of this, it’s also recommended that if your partner is pregnant, you should use a condom to avoid any of the drug being absorbed by her.
Unless you belong to one of the groups listed above, finasteride should be a safe and effective way of reversing the balding process. If you aren’t sure whether you can take it or not, you should make an appointment with your doctor rather than taking a chance.
Finasteride side effects
As finasteride is a prescription medicine, side effects are to be expected. However, they aren’t guaranteed. Many men don’t experience any adverse effects at all when taking finasteride for hair loss.
It’s important to be aware of what you might feel when starting the drug, so make sure to thoroughly read the patient information leaflet (PIL) before you take your first dose. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms associated with finasteride include:
- Reduced libido
- Difficulty gaining and erection
- Problems with ejaculation
- Allergic reactions
- Swelling of the breasts
- Pain in testicles
- Fast heart beat
- Sexual difficulties after stopping treatment
- Infertility after long term use
- Change in liver function
This isn’t an exhaustive list – hence why it’s important to familiarise yourself with the PIL.
In addition to these symptoms, there are also some serious side effects that you should be aware of, as these usually require urgent medical attention. If you notice any of the following, please ring 111 or arrange an emergency appointment with your GP:
- Breast lump
- Nipple discharge
- Difficulty urinating
You should also stay aware of signs of allergic reactions in case you react badly to finasteride.
In some cases, finasteride can cause changes in mood such as depression and suicidal thoughts. If you experience this, please seek urgent medical help.
Finasteride 1mg for hair loss unfortunately isn’t available on the NHS due to it being classed as a cosmetic treatment. In a vast majority of cases, patients seeking medicine for cosmetic issues must fund the treatment themselves rather than receiving it through the NHS.
Although finasteride 5mg is available on the NHS, this is strictly for patients that are diagnosed with prostatic hyperplasia only. Unless you have this issue, you will have to buy finasteride privately as alopecia treatment.
Never take 5mg finasteride for androgenetic alopecia. This should only ever be used by men with an enlarged prostate under the observation of a doctor or specialist.
Many men seeking treatment for hair loss want to know when they’ll be able to tell a difference. Whilst this varies from person to person depending on genetics and the severity of the alopecia, with finasteride, results are generally seen within 9 months.
This might seem like a long time to those that are looking for a quick solution, but due to the nature of how the drug works, it can take around 9 months for the hairs to start noticeably growing again.
Finasteride is a long-term treatment. If you stop taking it, then the balding process will start again as the levels of DHT will no longer be suppressed. Currently, evidence shows that it’s safe to take finasteride 1mg on a long-term basis, but if you’re concerned about this, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss it in detail.
For finasteride to be most effective and for results to show in the shortest time possible, you should start taking it when you first notice thinning or balding.
Finasteride for women
Finasteride shouldn’t be used by women, regardless of whether they’re androgenetic alopecia or not. Due to the way that finasteride works, it wouldn’t be effective for the treatment of female pattern hair loss, and may cause adverse effects.
For women that are experiencing hair loss and want to reduce the appearance of thinning or balding, the only treatment currently available is topical minoxidil in the form of Regaine for Women.
This is an effective treatment that’s applied directly to the head rather than being taken orally. If you’re a woman looking for hair loss treatment, please click here to read about Regaine for women.
Finasteride in the UK is a prescription-only medicine. This means that to access it, you’ll need a GMC-registered prescriber to agree that it’s the right treatment for you. As it isn’t available on the NHS for hair loss, the only way to obtain a prescription is either via a private doctor, or an online prescribing service such as Doctor4U.
In the UK, you can either buy the generic medicine, or the branded version; Propecia. Both medicines do the exact same job, but prices may vary.
It’s safe, easy, and completely legal to buy finasteride in the UK as long as you use a trusted source. If you decide to buy finasteride online, you should always look for the clickable logo that says “click to verify if this website is operating legally”. Ours can be found in the footer of our website on every page.
If you want to buy finasteride from Doctor4U, you must first complete a consultation for hair loss. This consists of several questions that you should answer as truthfully and thoroughly as you can. After this, you can choose from a range of hair loss treatments, including finasteride and Regaine for Men – you just need to choose whichever one you think is most suitable for you. If our doctors agree that the chosen treatment is safe for you based on your consultation answers, they’ll generate an electronic prescription and your treatment will be shipped to you. It might sound complicated, but buying finasteride online couldn’t be easier or safer.
Advice on Addiction and Medication Restrictions
If you are at all worried or concerned about an addiction to any type of medication, we urge you to speak to a professional for help and advice. Below are links to organisations that can help.
Talk To Frank
NHS Help & Advice On Drug Addiction