What effects does it have?
What is it?
Medication that temporarily slows hair loss due to baldness and sometimes causes some regrowth.
It's also known as Propecia.
How long does it last?
It takes months before effects become visible, and the effects stop if you stop taking the medication.
Finasteride does not remove the risk of pregnancy 1 and should not be used as a contraceptive method.
Finasteride comes as pills that are taken daily to slow hair loss. It is used to treat hair loss caused by testosterone. A commonly used alternative to finasteride is minoxidil, which is a topical cream or foam instead of a pill, and can be obtained without a prescription.
Finasteride can also be used to reduce body hair and slow facial hair growth 2.
You will have to take finasteride for three to six months before you will notice a difference. If you stop taking finasteride, your hair will return to normal within 9 to 12 months 3.
Finasteride use has been linked to liver problems and depression 4. It is not normally prescribed to anyone at risk of pregnancy due to potential effects on unborn children 3.
You can read more about hair loss treatments on the NHS Choices website.
Costs and funding
Finasteride is a “prescription-only medication”, meaning you are only able to get it from a pharmacy by giving them a valid prescription.
NHS guidelines indicate that finasteride is not funded by the NHS. You can, however, ask your GP to write you a “private prescription” that allows you to obtain the medication if you pay the costs for it yourself.
Finasteride costs around £5-£10 per week depending on your dosage level.
- 1 FSRH Clinical Effectiveness Unit (2017) “Contraceptive Choices and Sexual Health for Transgender and Non-binary People.” [online] Available from: https://www.fsrh.org/documents/fsrh-ceu-statement-contraceptive-choices-and-sexual-health-for/contraceptive-choices-and-sexual-health-for-transgender-non-binary-people-oct-2017.pdf
- 2 Seal, Leighton J (2017) “Hormone Treatment for Transgender Adults,” in Bouman, W. P. and Arcelus, J. (eds.), The Transgender Handbook: A Guide for Transgender People, Their Families and Professionals, Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 227–249.
- 3 Electronic Medicines Compendium (2013) “Finasteride 1 mg Film-coated Tablets.” [online] Available from: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/22865
- 4 Seal, Leighton J (2007) “The practical management of hormonal treatment in adults with gender dysphoria,” in Barrett, J. (ed.), Transsexual and other disorders of gender identity: A practical guide to management, Radcliffe Publishing, pp. 157–190.
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Page last updated: March 2018