Propecia is used for the treatment of male pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia). Propecia increases hair growth on the scalp and prevents further hair loss in men.

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What is Propecia?

Propecia is the brand name for the active pharmaceutical ingredient called finasteride.

Since its introduction in 1997, finasteride has been demonstrated to be highly effective in numerous clinical studies.

In a study conducted over a period of five years, 90% of men showed significant regrowth and the vast majority said they had maintained their volume of hair.

How does Propecia work?

It works by reducing the effects of a natural enzyme within the body called 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme normally converts testosterone into DHT. DHT is a more active variation of testosterone which amongst many things has an effect on hair follicles. DHT attacks hair follicles causing hair to slowly fall out

Some men have a higher sensitivity to these effects and this is mostly genetic. Finasteride blocks the effects of 5-alpha reductase, this leads to a reduction in the concentration of DHT both in the blood. There is then a subsequent reduction in the volume of DHT within the scalp which helps prevent hair loss as well as stimulating new hair growth.

How long does it take to work?

The initial results take up to 3 months to show. You will notice a significant reduction in hair loss by 6 months. By 9 months most men show some evidence of new hair growth.

Often men require a whole year’s treatment to notice significant hair growth. It should be borne in mind that this is highly variable from person to person.

What's the difference between Propecia and Finasteride?

Propecia is a brand name for finasteride. Both medicines contain the same active ingredients and are used for the same purposes with regard to hair loss treatment.

How do I take Propecia?

It is very straightforward to take Propecia.

Only one tablet should be taken daily. It can be taken at any time, with or without food. If you forget to take your daily dose of Propecia- you do not need to take an extra tablet, just continue as normal. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you have missed.

If you miss more than one tablet, please refer to the patient information leaflet available to download or speak to your own doctor.

Long-term usage is advised in order to gain the maximum benefits. Once you’ve stopped taking your treatment, balding may resume within 6 to 12 months.

Propecia dosages

Propecia only comes in the 1mg dosage. From AccessDoctor you can obtain 1, 3, 6 and 9-month treatment courses.

Other uses of finasteride

Finasteride is said to be of benefit in treating benign prostate enlargement in men.

Side effects & precautions

Who should not take Finasteride?

  • Women should NOT take this medication under any circumstances
  • Pregnant women should avoid handling crushed or broken tablets, there’s a possibility that the drugs could be absorbed through the skin and lead to abnormalities in a male baby. It’s safe to handle the whole tablet.
  • Children and anyone under the age of 18
  • Men who are already taking finasteride 5mg (Proscar) or any other 5α-reductase inhibitor such as dutasteride (Avodart) for an enlarged prostate.
  • You have an allergy to finasteride
  • You have been diagnosed with severe liver dysfunction
  • You have a history or suspicion of male breast cancer

Men who’ve had prostate cancer or blockages in the tubes that drain the kidneys should ask for a specialist’s advice before taking finasteride.

If you’re unsure, always ask your doctor’s advice before taking finasteride.

Who can take it?

  • Finasteride should be used by adult men only, for the treatment of male pattern baldness.
  • It’s been proven to be effective at stabilising hair loss in 18 to 41-year-old men. Its effectiveness in older men has not been established and may be reduced. If you start it at an older age, it may not work as well.
  • Please note that use by men over the age of 41 is an ‘off-label’ use of our generic Finasteride brands.

Prescribing ‘off-label’ is a common practice by doctors to ensure a medication can safely benefit as many patients as possible.


Side effects are generally uncommon.

However, some have been reported and include:

  • Loss of libido
  • Erectile dysfunction

Rarer side effects:

  • Depression
  • Breast growth in men (gynecomastia)
  • Pain in the testicles

Stop using Propecia (finasteride) if you notice any of these side effects and Consult your G.P as soon as possible.

For more information please read the attached patient information leaflet (PIL)

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