September 20th, 2018 Written by a Staff Writer at Hair Loss in Women
What is Finasteride (Propecia)?
Finasteride (brand name Propecia), is one of the most common hair loss treatments in use today.
It works due to its effects on the body’s endocrine or hormonal system. It is important to note that finasteride is a Type 2 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. This means that it works by inhibiting the enzyme, which contributes in regulating the process of converting testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
Reduced levels of DHT in your scalp can help reduce the negative effects of DHT in your hair follicles. This leads to the reversal of the hair loss process. The treatment can also reduce DHT concentrations in the scalp and serum by 60-70 percent.
Finasteride (Propecia) Hair Loss Treatment for Women?
Finasteride is mainly used to treat male pattern hair loss.
It aids in preventing further hair loss while also stimulating hair growth. However, there are also studies that show that it works for women. The usual dose for men is to take a 1mg daily.
This dose, however, is not effective in women, according to a pilot study conducted on post-menopausal participants. The most effective dose for them would be 2.5 to 5mg, according to a few studies and case reports.
The studies conducted by researchers indicated that finasteride also works effectively in treating female pattern hair loss, but it is crucial to clarify the optimal dosage for specific cases. Researchers did not describe side effects dependent on the dose of the treatment.
Another study was conducted by the Department of Dermatology at the University of Bologna to determine the effectiveness of finasteride when it comes to treating female pattern hair loss. The setting was an outpatient consultation for certain hair conditions. The study was performed on 37 women suffering from hair loss. They received 2.5 mg oral finasteride while they also took an oral contraceptive that contained ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone.
The effectiveness of the treatment was scrutinized with the help of a global photography and a video dermoscopy, which showed a hair density score. The researchers also used a self-administered questionnaire designed to scrutinize the treatment effectiveness on each patient.
The result within the 12-month study is that 23 out of the 37 participants were reported to show improvements in hair growth, as shown on the global photography results. 12 of them showed slight improvements, 8 showed moderate improvements, while 3 of the participants showed significant improvements.
The remaining 13 participants showed no improvement at all. The study did not also report any adverse side effect from the use of the drug. With this study, the researchers concluded that around 62 percent of the participants were able to improve the hair growth process by using 2.5 mg of finasteride, and pairing it with an oral contraceptive.
However, it is not yet clear if the success resulted from the higher finasteride dose, or from pairing it with an oral contraceptive, which produces anti-androgenic effects. Additional studies are still needed to determine which among the treatments produce the best results.
Take as directed
Finasteride is used for long-term treatment. There are serious risks if you do not take Finasteride as prescribed.
If you take too much: You’re at a higher risk of developing negative reactions. These can include decreased sex drive, increase in breast size or tenderness, and rash.
Miss a dose: If you forget to take your dose, do not take an extra tablet. Just take the next tablet as usual.
How to Tell if the Drug is Working
You may notice less hair loss and more hair growth on your head.
Important Considerations for Taking Finasteride
Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes you to start taking finasteride.
Don’t crush, cut, or chew the tablets.
Store at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
Keep it away from light and high temperature.
Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.
Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.
When traveling with your medication:
When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t harm your medication.
Be prepared to show the pharmacy label to TSA for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled container with you.
Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.
Approval is determined on a plan-by-plan basis.
Are there any alternatives?
There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.
Finasteride Risks and Precautions
While some studies proved the effectiveness of finasteride when it comes to treating hair loss in women, it’s still advisable to exercise caution before taking or using the drug.
If possible, spend time discussing the use finasteride to treat hair loss with your doctor. This will help you determine if the drug is really safe and effective for your situation. You should also take note of the following prior to taking finasteride for hair loss:
Possible Birth Defects
Medical consultants do not recommend finasteride for pregnant women or those who are thinking of getting pregnant. This medicine is unsafe for them because it triggers genital abnormalities in a male fetus. Crushing or breaking up finasteride tablets is also not advisable for these women because the skin can still absorb it.
Potential Side Effects
Women who took finasteride also reported a few adverse effects. Clinical studies conducted on women who received finasteride reported some side effects like hot flashes, sweating, headaches, and increased body hair.
Less serious side effects may include:
- impotence, loss of interest in sex, or trouble having an orgasm;
- swelling in your hands or feet;
- swelling or tenderness in your breasts;
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- swelling of your lips, tongue, throat, or face
- lumps or pain in your breasts
- nipple discharge
If you have a liver abnormality, then it is advisable to exercise caution when taking the drug.
Finasteride may not be a good option if you have a liver disorder, as you would have to be careful when taking it since the organ can extensively metabolize it, which may trigger further damage to your liver. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you have any liver issues.
Interactions with Other Medications
An interaction is when a substances changes the way a drug is intended to work. It can be harmful or prevent the drug from working at all. To help prevent interactions, it is best to speak with your doctor prior to taking any medications, vitamins or herbs.
To find out how finasteride oral tablet might interact with something you are currently taking, tal to your doctor of pharmacist.
Combining Finasteride With Other Treatments
Some studies have shown that finasteride works in treating female pattern hair loss, but there’s some controversy.
There’s some evidence that suggest that it only works well for men and is less effective in women, so you may want to discuss other treatment options with your physician. The good news is that there are other ways for you to deal with hair loss. Finasteride may be an effective treatment option for hair loss in women, but can consider using it in combination with other solutions (such as minoxidil) as part of a comprehensive hair regrowth regimen.
Interested in other products besides Finasteride? Check out our reviewed products page here.
Do you have any experience with finasteride? Please comment below.