Propecia (finasteride) is a medication used to treat hair loss in patients suffering from male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia).
Propecia contains the active ingredient finasteride, a type of medication known as a 5 Alpha-Reductase inhibitor. It works against the androgen hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which contributes towards male sexual characteristics, including the monitoring of hair growth and loss. By reducing the conversion of DHT from testosterone, finasteride limits the role of DHT in hair loss.
Propecia should be taken regularly and can take up to 3 months to take effect.
When taken correctly, Propecia is effective in 80% of users.
The active ingredient in Propecia is finasteride.
The inactive ingredients in Propecia are lactose, microcrystalline cellulose E460, pregelatinised maize starch, sodium starch glycollate, docusate sodium, magnesium stearate E572, hypromellose E464, hydroxypropyl cellulose E463, titanium dioxide, talc, yellow iron oxide E172, and red iron oxide E172.
Always take Propecia as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist. Take one tablet per day with or without food, at around the same time each day. Propecia will not work faster if you take a higher daily dose and if you take too much Propecia, contact a doctor immediately. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, but do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. It can take between 3 and 6 months for Propecia to take full effect. If you stop taking Propecia, you are likely to lose the hair you have gained within 9 to 12 months.
The recommended dose of Propecia is 1 x 1 mg tablet taken daily.
Like all medicines, Propecia can cause side effects in some patients. If you experience either of the following, stop taking Propecia and contact your doctor immediately:
Uncommon side effects of Propecia, affecting up to 1 in 100 men, include:
The frequency of the following side effects is too small to be measured:
Do NOT take Propecia if:
Before taking Propecia, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are going to have a blood test for prostate cancer called PSA (prostate-specific antigen), as Propecia can affect the results of this test.
Do NOT take Propecia if you are already taking finasteride or dutasteride for BPH. Before taking Propecia, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medications, including those purchased over the counter without a prescription
While Propecia’s main function is to inhibit DHT, it can also slightly increase oestrogen levels as well. By interfering with the levels of sexual hormones in this way, Propecia can have related side effects such as reduced libido or erectile dysfunction. A natural way to help with libido and erectile dysfunction is to lose weight, as weight loss naturally reduces estrogen levels in men. If you are worried about erectile dysfunction, speak to your doctor about prescription treatments, such as PDE-5 inhibitors like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or Spedra.
Propecia can affect libido in some men who take it, although normal sex drive is expected to resume following discontinuation.
Infertility has been reported in men who took Propecia, although these men had other risk factors that may affect fertility. Normalisation and improvement of seminal quality is usual following discontinuation of Propecia.
Propecia is the brand name for the generic drug Finasteride. Both contain the active ingredient finasteride and work in the same way, although the genetic version is significantly cheaper.
An alternative hair loss treatment is Minoxidil, which unlike Propecia is a topical rather than oral treatment. When applied to the hair, Minoxidil works by relaxing the blood vessels to increase blood flow to the hair follicles. Minoxidil differs to Propecia in that it encourages hair growth rather preventing hair loss.
Propecia works best in a preventative capacity, and is unlikely to restore an area of complete baldness. However, it is proven to id the regrowth of hair in 65% of men who use it.
Propecia is safe for long-term use and is usually taken for life, as hair loss will resume once treatment is stopped.
Propecia is not available on the NHS as it is considered a cosmetic treatment.
Even if Propecia does not stimulate the growth of new hair, it can cause your existing hair to grow thicker and denser.