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What is finasteride?

Medication that temporarily slows hair loss due to baldness and sometimes causes some regrowth.

It's also known as Propecia.

What does finasteride do?

Who can have finasteride?

  • Under 18s cannot have this

  • You cannot have this if you are pregnant, or might become pregnant

How long does finasteride last?

It takes months before effects become visible, and the effects stop if you stop taking the medication.

What should I be aware of?


Finasteride does not remove the risk of pregnancy 1 and should not be used as a contraceptive method.

Finasteride use has been linked to liver problems and depression 2, p.174. It is not normally prescribed to anyone at risk of pregnancy due to potential effects on unborn children 3.

Why might I want finasteride?

Finasteride is used to treat hair loss caused by testosterone.

It can also be used to reduce body hair and slow facial hair growth 4, p.236.

Are there other options?

A commonly used alternative to finasteride is minoxidil, which is a topical cream or foam instead of a pill, and unlike finasteride can be obtained without a prescription.

How do I use finasteride?

Finasteride comes as a pill you take daily. It is a “prescription-only medication”, meaning you are only able to get it from a pharmacy by giving them a valid prescription.

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.

How much will it cost?

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.

Where can I learn more?

You can read more about hair loss treatments on the NHS website.


  1. 1.
    FSRH Clinical Effectiveness Unit (2017) “Contraceptive Choices and Sexual Health for Transgender and Non-binary People.” Link
  2. 2.
    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. Link
  3. 3.
    Electronic Medicines Compendium (2013) “Finasteride 1 mg Film-coated Tablets.” Link
  4. 4.
    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. Link


This page is illustrated using a photograph by Kristoferb available at Wikimedia.

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