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What Every Man Should Know About Finasteride for Hair Loss

What Every Man Should Know About Finasteride for Hair Loss

You’ve been suspecting it for some time but now it’s undeniable – you’re losing your hair. Whether your hairline is receding, you’re developing a bald spot, or your hair is thinning all over your head, hair loss is never a good thing. As a man, your hair is part of your identity and your hair style is a testament to your personality, but losing your hair doesn’t have to mean losing yourself.

Though there are many over-the-counter hair loss treatments on the market, most of them don’t offer any real or lasting results. Surgery, steroid injections, and hair pieces are expensive or ineffective, so don’t even bother considering them. What does that leave you with?

Finasteride is a prescription drug specifically formulated for the treatment of hair loss and it is one of the only therapies that actually works. If you’re ready to stop losing your hair and regain your luscious locks, here’s what you need to know about finasteride.

Which Types of Hair Loss Can Be Treated?

A little bit of hair loss is completely normal – most people lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day. This level of hair loss is so insignificant that it is not even noticeable. If you’ve begun to experience noticeable hair loss, however, it could be a problem. There are many different forms of hair loss, each caused by different things, and they can affect men and women in different ways.

Male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, is the most common form of hair loss and it is typically an inherited condition. As the condition progresses the natural hair growth cycle begins to weaken and your hair follicles actually begin to shrink, causing your hairs to become shorter and finer. Eventually, hair growth stops altogether. The exact cause for this type of hair loss is unknown, but it is related to the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Treatments that inhibit production of DHT are sometimes effective in slowing, stopping, or reversing hair loss due to androgenic alopecia.

Though male pattern baldness is often treatable, other forms of hair loss either cannot be treated or they resolve themselves on their own. Telogen effluvium, for example, is a temporary form of hair loss typically induced by severe stress. Once the stressor has been removed, many people grow back their hair. Alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition, is another story. Scientists aren’t sure what triggers the immune system to begin attacking the hair follicles but it is thought to be a combination of internal and external factors. For some people, oral or topical treatments work to reduce hair loss, but autoimmune conditions like this can never be fully cured.

What Treatments DON’T Work?

There are countless men out there who are desperate to stop their hair loss so they will try everything the can. Unfortunately, many of the hair loss treatments on the market don’t work. Here is an overview of some of the hair loss treatments you may have seen that don’t really work:

  • Laser Combs – This treatment consists of a comb paired with a low-level laser light. You simply comb it through your hair to deliver low-dose laser light to the hair follicles, theoretically stimulating new growth.
  • Hair Oils – Essential oils, Moroccan oil, argan oil, and even coconut oil have all been marketed as hair loss remedies at some point but there is little clinical evidence to suggest that these oils do anything for your hair other than leaving it feeling greasy.
  • Corticosteroids – Corticosteroid injections are usually used to reduce hair loss caused by inflammation. These treatments sometimes help with alopecia areata, but they need to be repeated frequently and the hair loss is likely to continue once treatment is stopped.
  • Topical Corticosteroids – Steroid creams and ointments are also a popular treatment for hair loss but their long-term benefits have not been studied and they have been known to cause serious side effects.
  • Surgery – Hair transplants, scalp reduction, and artificial hair implantation are the most common forms of hair loss surgery. These options may make hair loss less noticeable but they are often painful, expensive, and may only offer short-term benefits.

Out of all the hair loss remedies out there, there are only two which have been proven to be effective – finasteride and minoxidil. The former is a prescription drug that blocks the action of DHT and the latter is available in a foam or serum form, often used to supplement the benefits of finasteride.

How Does Finasteride Work for Hair Loss Treatment?

Finasteride is an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of hair loss. Also known by the brand name Propecia, finasteride belongs to a class of drugs known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors and it works by preventing testosterone from breaking down into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone that causes male pattern baldness. You can get this medication with a prescription from your primary care physician (PCP).

Available in tablet form, finasteride is designed for long-term use – you may not see any significant results until you’ve been taking the product continuously for three to six months. It may also help to take the tablet at the same time each day. Men who have used finasteride to treat hair loss have reported an increase in the number of hairs as well as improvement in hair quality. Keep in mind that your hair loss symptoms may resume if you stop taking finasteride.

Though finasteride is widely regarded as safe, all drugs come with a risk for side effects. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology, fewer than 2 in 100 men experienced sexual side effects after taking finasteride. Common side effects included reduced sexual desire, decreased volume of ejaculate, and erectile dysfunction. To reduce your risk for side effects, follow dosing instructions carefully and double check with your doctor if you’re taking any other medications or supplements.

Losing your hair is never easy but, fortunately, it isn’t something you have to live with! If you’re experiencing hair loss due to male pattern baldness, don’t fall victim to marketing schemes for products and therapies that don’t work – stick with one of the only hair loss treatments that is both FDA-approved and proven to be effective, finasteride.

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.
  • depression;
  • 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.