Many of the effective treatments for male pattern baldness work by blocking the conversion of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) from testosterone in the scalp. For those who don’t know, DHT is strongly linked to hair loss and is believed to be the primary reason why the majority of men experience androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) at some point in their lives.
When it comes to treating hair loss, there are a number of products on the market that work by disrupting DHT. You can find treatment in the form of supplements like biotin, DHT-blocking shampoos containing ketoconazole or pyrithione zinc, and pharmaceutical medications that act as 5α-reductase inhibitors. Of these medications, finasteride (Propecia) is by far the most popular. In fact, it’s the only one that’s been approved by the FDA to treat male pattern baldness, which is why a number of men have been able to benefit from its ability to combat hair loss.
Perhaps you’ve heard of another popular inhibitor called dutasteride. It’s a type of DHT-blocking medication that works similar to finasteride, and while it has been used in some Asian countries to combat male pattern baldness, it hasn’t been approved by the FDA for hair loss in the US. This begs the question of whether dutasteride is as effective as finasteride or not.
Is Dutasteride as Effective as Finasteride?
Dutasteride has proven itself as being effective at treating male pattern baldness. In one study, researchers tested the effects of finasteride and dutasteride on 917 men between the ages of 20 and 50 who were at various different stages of male pattern baldness. What they found was that both finasteride and dutasteride were successful at increasing hair growth over a 24-week period, and that side effects were similar among both groups.
With that said, it’s also important to note that dutasteride’s performance was similar to finasteride’s. In fact, most research comparing the two products together have come to the conclusion that both DHT blockers provide the same result in terms of hair growth and baldness prevention.
Dutasteride’s Sexual Side Effects Are Stronger
Just like with finasteride, individuals taking dutasteride may experience negative sexual side effects like decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and problems ejaculating. The problem is that patients who take dutasteride are far more likely to experience these side effects than those who use finasteride. While it is true that roughly 2% of men who take finasteride will have some sort of sexual side effect, the chances of experiencing the same side effect with dutasteride are more than double. In one study, researchers found that 5.1% of men who take dutasteride had some sort of sexual dysfunction as a result of their treatment. In addition, the study also found that 3.5% of men taking dutasteride also experience tenderness in the breast or gynecomastia, the enlargement of breast tissue.
Finasteride vs Dutasteride: the Safer Choice
Most of the research around dutasteride has verified that it is an effective way to treat male pattern baldness. In fact, when compared side-by-side with finasteride in year-long clinical trials, scientists noticed two things about dutasteride: it delivers nearly identical success results as finsteride and it’s actually able to reduce more DHT than its counterpart.
With that said, the downside of dutasteride is not that it’s ineffective at fighting male pattern baldness, it’s that the drug hasn’t made it through all the necessary FDA clinical trials at the moment. While we know that dutasteride has slightly stronger sexual side effects than finasteride, the effects or consequences of taking this medication for hair loss over the long term are still widely unknown.
Finasteride, on the other hand, is well documented and has a track record of success. We know that men who use finasteride to treat male pattern baldness have an 83% chance of stopping further balding, as well as a 66% chance of growing hair that was previously lost. Furthermore, finasteride’s side effects have been extensively researched and are far less likely to occur than dutasteride.
Overall, finasteride and dutasteride provide similar results, yet only one of them has been properly researched, tested, and approved by the FDA for treatment of male pattern baldness. For this reason, it’s a wiser to make finasteride part of your treatment regimen – at least until dutasteride undergoes more trials.
If you’d like to learn more about how finasteride can help in the fight against male pattern baldness, talk with your primary physician or dermatologist. They can help you determine whether a 1mg dose of finasteride is right for you.
Important Safety Information
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Finasteride is for use by MEN ONLY and should NOT be used by women or children.
Read this Patient Information before you start taking Finasteride and each time you get a refill. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or treatment.
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).
It is not known if Finasteride works for a receding hairline on either side of and above your forehead (temporal area).
Finasteride is not for use by women and children.
Who should not take Finasteride?
Do not take Finasteride if you:
- are pregnant or may become pregnant. Finasteride may harm your unborn baby.
- Finasteride tablets are coated and will prevent contact with the medicine during handling, as long as the tablets are not broken or crushed. Females who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not come in contact with broken or crushed Finasteride tablets.
- If a pregnant woman comes in contact with crushed or broken Finasteride tablets, wash the contact area right away with soap and water. If a woman who is pregnant comes into contact with the active ingredient in Finasteride, a healthcare provider should be consulted. If a woman who is pregnant with a male baby swallows or comes in contact with the medicine in Finasteride, the male baby may be born with sex organs that are not normal.
are allergic to any of the ingredients in Finasteride. See the end of this leaflet for a complete list of ingredients in Finasteride.
What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking Finasteride? Before taking Finasteride, tell your healthcare provider if you:
have any other medical conditions, including problems with your prostate or liver
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.
How should I take Finasteride?
- Take Finasteride exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to take it.
- You may take Finasteride with or without food.
If you forget to take Finasteride, do not take an extra tablet. Just take the next tablet as usual.
Finasteride will not work faster or better if you take it more than once a day.
What are the possible side effects of Finasteride?
decrease in your blood Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. Finasteride can affect a blood test called PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) for the screening of prostate cancer. If you have a PSA test done you should tell your healthcare provider that you are taking Finasteride because Finasteride decreases PSA levels. Changes in PSA levels will need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Any increase in follow-up PSA levels from their lowest point may signal the presence of prostate cancer and should be evaluated, even if the test results are still within the normal range for men not taking Finasteride. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you have not been taking Finasteride as prescribed because this may affect the PSA test results. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.
There may be an increased risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer in men taking finasteride at 5 times the dose of Finasteride.
The most common side effects of Finasteride include:
- decrease in sex drive
- trouble getting or keeping an erection
a decrease in the amount of semen
The following have been reported in general use with Finasteride:
- breast tenderness and enlargement. Tell your healthcare provider about any changes in your breasts such as lumps, pain or nipple discharge.
- decrease in sex drive that continued after stopping the medication;
- allergic reactions including rash, itching, hives and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and face;
- problems with ejaculation that continued after stopping medication;
- testicular pain;
- difficulty in achieving an erection that continued after stopping the medication;
- male infertility and/or poor quality of semen.
in rare cases, male breast cancer.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of Finasteride. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA1088.
How should I store Finasteride?
- Store Finasteride at room temperature between 59˚F to 86˚F (15˚C to 30˚C).
Keep Finasteride in a closed container and keep Finasteride tablets dry (protect from moisture).
Keep Finasteride and all medicines out of the reach of children.
General information about the safe and effective use of Finasteride.
Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in this Patient Information. Do not use Finasteride for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Finasteride to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them.