Androgenetic alopecia (hereditary hair loss) is incredibly common and is estimated to affect nearly half of all men by the age of 50. Most men notice a receding hairline first, followed by a thinning of the hair at the crown and temples.
Typically, male pattern hair loss starts in a man’s late twenties or early thirties, but it can be younger. This type of hair loss is caused by oversensitive hair follicles, which is linked to the male hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Finasteride works by stopping testosterone turning into DHT, which slows down hair loss and promotes regrowth. It is most effective in men with early-stage hair loss, and it is the only licensed medication for male pattern baldness in the UK.
Clinical studies in men with androgenetic alopecia have shown that finasteride can slow down hair loss, promote hair regrowth, and improve the scalp’s overall appearance.
How to take finasteride tablets
You should take one finasteride tablet at the same time every day with a glass of water – we do not recommend that you crush or split these tablets.
Most men see results within three to six months of starting hair loss treatment, but for it to continue working you must keep taking finasteride. The effects will not last beyond six to twelve months after you stop taking the tablets.
Finasteride tablets are not suitable to treat hair loss in women or anyone under 18 years old. For a full list of cautions, you can download the patient information leaflet.
Like most medicines, finasteride 1mg tablets can cause some unwanted symptoms, but not everyone will experience these. Certain side effects of finasteride are
- Erectile dysfunction (problems getting an erection)
- Less interest in having sex
- Problems with ejaculating
If these symptoms become a problem and you’re struggling to cope, talk to your doctor.
Finasteride can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking finasteride and seek immediate medical help:
- Skin rash – itchy, red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin
- Tightness in your chest or throat
- Trouble breathing or talking
- Swelling in the lips, face, tongue, or throat
If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in finasteride or any other medicine, tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start treatment.
Advice for women
Finasteride is not suitable to be taken by women, and it poses a significant risk to pregnant women. If finasteride gets into a pregnant woman’s bloodstream, it could harm her unborn baby, so it’s important to take extra precautions.
If you are pregnant or likely to become pregnant, you should not handle the tablets, particularly if they are broken or crushed. Finasteride can also be present in semen, so if your partner is taking this medication, then you should use a condom during sex.
Can you get finasteride on the NHS?
Finasteride isn’t available on the NHS, but you can buy it privately from a UK registered pharmacy, like Post My Meds. Before you can order finasteride, you will be asked to fill out a short online questionnaire so our pharmacists can check that this drug is suitable for you.
We only ever prescribe medication where we know it is safe to do so.
What is the difference between Propecia and finasteride?
Finasteride is the generic version of Propecia. They both work in the same way, but because finasteride is unbranded, it is much cheaper than Propecia.
Propecia starts from £49.49 for 28 tablets and is also available to buy online.
How long should I take finasteride?
Finasteride is only effective while you are taking it. Most men taking finasteride continue to do so for months or years with no adverse effects. Your hair may return to its previous state within 6 to 12 months of stopping finasteride.
What should I do if I forget to take it?
If you miss a dose of finasteride and it’s still within six hours of the time you would normally take it, then you should take the missed dose when you remember.
If more than six hours have passed, then you should skip the missed dose and take your next tablet at the normal time the following day. Do not double up on tablets to make up for your missed dose.
Are there other ways to treat hair loss in men?
Alpecin shampoo can be used alongside generic finasteride to strengthen hair. It contains caffeine, vitamin B, and zinc to promote growth directly at the root. We also recommend maintaining a healthy scalp by:
- Eating a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables
- Taking supplements where your diet is lacking, particularly iron and folic acid
- Avoiding over-styling your hair and protecting it from sun damage
If your hair loss is affecting your confidence and overall well being, there are support groups that can help. Organisations like Alopecia UK can put you in touch with other men taking finasteride and people going through the same thing.
Can I take finasteride with other medications?
Finasteride is safe to take alongside other medications, but you should always tell your doctor or pharmacist about anything else you are taking before you start treatment.
St John’s Wort can stop finasteride working as well as it should do.
Can you drink alcohol while taking finasteride?
You can drink alcohol while taking finasteride.
Is it safe to buy medicine online?
Online pharmacies, like Post My Meds, are subject to all the same laws as high street stores. We are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council, and everything we sell is approved by the UK regulator for medicines and healthcare products (MHRA).
Before you place your order, you will be asked to complete a short online consultation, and your answers will be reviewed by one of our pharmacists. We only sell prescription drugs to customers if we know they are suitable to take them.
How will my order arrive?
We understand that your privacy is important to you so we ship all our products in discreet, unbranded packaging. It will come via Royal Mail first class post, and the only thing you can expect to see on the package is your name and address.
Delivery is free and if you order before 4pm on a weekday or 11am on a Saturday, your order will be dispatched the same day. Orders placed after this will be dispatched the following working day.
If you are looking for information on finasteride, browse our frequently asked questions or download the patient information leaflet.