Skin & lifestyle
Finasteride is a medication which inhibits the action of the male hormone testosterone. Doctors prescribe this medication for the treatment of male hair loss in men, where two different doses can be used. It is also used to reduce excessive hair growth in females, and as a treatment for urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate.
Medically reviewed by G.L. Merkens on December 17, 2018
Doctors prescribe finasteride in two different doses. The lower dose (finasteride 1 mg) is used as a remedy for male hair loss. The higher dose (5 mg) is used to treat urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate.
In women, the higher dose is sometimes prescribed as a treatment for excessive hair growth.
Finasteride reduces the effect of the male hormone testosterone by inhibiting the enzyme 5α-reductase. It is therefore also called a 5α-reductase inhibitor or an anti-androgen (androgen = male sex hormone).
Men can buy finasteride 1 mg as a treatment for baldness. This will promote the regrowth of hair in areas where it had previously stopped, especially on the crown.
In women, finasteride (at a higher dosage of 5 mg) has the opposite effect and counteracts excessive hair growth on the chest, cheeks, upper lip and chin.
Finasteride is a medication which has to be taken over a long period. Your doctor will determine the precise dosage and duration of your treatment. Swallow the tablets every day at a fixed time to minimise the chance of forgetting a dose.
When used to treat baldness in men, the optimal effect is visible after three to six months. Once treatment stops, the results achieved usually disappear around nine to twelve months later.
Finasteride should only be prescribed by a doctor. This medication is available under the brand names Proscar and Propecia, and as a generic (unbranded) product. It is produced by various pharmaceutical companies.
Purchasing finasteride without prescription is possible, but not recommended. Websites offering such medications often sell fake products without active ingredients.