Propecia (Finasteride) increases hair growth and prevent further hair loss in men with male pattern baldness. It may take three to six months of treatment before you notice that you are losing less hair or that your hair is increasing in thickness. A pack of 28 tablets lasts for around 1 month. This pack size is most suitable for you if you wish to try Propecia.
Propecia is not available on the NHS for this condition.
Propecia tablets contain the active ingredient finasteride, which is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor.
Finasteride works by inhibiting the action of a compound in the body called 5-alpha reductase. 5-alpha reductase is an enzyme that is responsible for converting the male hormone testosterone into a more active form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT can damage hair follicles and lead to hair loss in men who are genetically sensitive to it.
As finasteride prevents the action of 5-alpha reductase it prevents the formation of DHT. This decreases the amount of DHT both in the blood and the scalp and can lead to reversal of the balding process.
You will need to keep taking this medicine to obtain the maximum benefit.
If you stop taking it the effect of the medicine on your hair will start to reverse within about six months and you are likely to lose any hair you have gained within 9 to 12 months.
One tablet of Propecia should be taken once a day, preferably at the same time each day. The tablet can be taken either with or without food.
You will need to keep taking Propecia daily on a continuous basis for its effects to be maintained.
If you forget to take a dose don’t worry, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as usual when it is due. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.
You should not exceed the prescribed dose of this medicine, as this will not make it any more effective.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with finasteride:
Uncommon (affect between 1 and 10 out of every 1000 people):
- Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection (impotence).
- Ejaculation disorders, such as reduced volume of ejaculation.
- Decreased sex drive.
- In rare cases - Suicidal thoughts.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with finasteride, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
There have been reports of depression and, in rare cases, suicidal thoughts in men taking finasteride 1 mg (Propecia) for male pattern hair loss. If you notice any changes in your mood or behaviour, feel depressed or have any thoughts about suicide or harming yourself during treatment with this medicine, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Women who are pregnant or who could get pregnant must not handle crushed or broken Propecia tablets, as the medicine may be absorbed through the skin and cause abnormalities in a developing male baby. Whole tablets are coated to prevent contact with the active ingredient during normal handling, provided they are not broken or crushed.
Men taking this medicine should NOT donate blood during treatment and for at least four weeks after stopping treatment with this medicine. This is because if a pregnant woman was given the blood the medicine could harm the development of a male baby.
There have been reports of reduced semen quality and infertility in men taking this medicine. This means that there is a possibility that it may reduce your fertility and ability to father a child. If this is a concern to you, you should discuss fertility with your doctor before starting treatment.
If you have any blood tests to measure the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood (to check for the presence of prostate cancer) while you are taking this medicine, you should make sure your doctor knows that you are taking this medicine, as it can affect the results. Your doctor will need to take this into account when interpreting the results of your blood test.
Cases of breast cancer have been reported in men taking finasteride. It is therefore important to see your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts such as lumps, pain or nipple discharge.
Propecia should NOT be used in:
- Children and adolescents under 18 years of age.
- Women. It has been shown in clinical trials that Propecia does not work in women with hair loss.
- Men taking Proscar tablets (finasteride 5mg) or any other 5α-reductase inhibitor (e.g. Avodart (dutasteride) capsules) for an enlarged prostate or other conditions.
- Men with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption (Propecia tablets contain lactose).
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using finasteride and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) is a leaflet containing specific information about medical conditions, doses and side effects. You can download a copy of the PIL here:
Patient Info Leaflet