Propecia is a hair loss treatment for men. When taken daily it can prevent hair loss and encourage the growth of new hair.
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Propecia is used in the treatment of male hair loss, which is known as androgenetic alopecia. It can help to encourage hair growth and prevent further hair loss when taken daily. Each Propecia tablet contains 1mg of finasteride. Propecia is most effective when taken long term.
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Propecia is a branded treatment used for male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia). Propecia tablets contain the active ingredient finasteride. You can also find the same treatment under the name finasteride tablets. Propecia works to prevent hair loss and encourages the growth of new hair, which can reverse balding.
The active ingredient in Propecia, finasteride, is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor which can lower the amount of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your body.
DHT decreases the amount of hair growth on your head and causes hair to thin. Taking Propecia regularly will lower your DHT levels, which prevents further hair loss, stops balding, and increases the growth of new hair. Propecia is suitable for men with mild to moderate hair loss and is not suitable if you have complete hair loss.
Propecia will keep working for as long as you take it and is safe to take for a long time. Your hair will go back to how it was before taking Propecia around 6 to 9 months after stopping treatment.
Propecia is a tablet containing 1mg of finasteride. You should take one tablet a day, for as long as you need it or as long as your doctors tell you to. It can take a few months for Propecia to work and you may see the best effect after taking Propecia for 3 to 6 months. You can take Propecia with or without food and with a drink of water.
If you are late taking a dose of Propecia, take it as soon as you realise, on the same day. If you miss a day or more of Propecia, continue with your next dose as usual. Do not take a double dose of Propecia to make up for a missed dose. Taking more than you should will not make Propecia more effective or work quicker.
Propecia can be taken by men over the age of 18 who have mild to moderate hair loss. It will not work if you have complete hair loss. It should not be taken by women as it does not work for female hair loss. You should speak to a doctor first to make sure Propecia is safe to take. There are some medications and medical conditions that can make Propecia unsuitable.
Propecia like all medications can have some side effects. Most side effects are uncommon and usually go away once your body is used to the treatment. You can speak to your doctor if Propecia side effects do not go away or bother you.
Uncommon side effects of Propecia include:
- inability to get and maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- a change in sex drive (libido)
- problems with ejaculation, such as a decrease in semen
There are some side effects of Propecia which have not been reported enough to know how often they happen, including:
- heart palpitations
- pain in the testicles
- blood in semen
- breast tenderness or swelling
- persistent problems with erectile dysfunction or ejaculation
- male infertility
For more information on side effects, you can find the Propecia patient information leaflet online or in your tablet pack.
Stop taking Propecia, go to A&E, or call 999 if you get a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling in your mouth and face, breathing difficulties, and lumps under your skin (hives). Sometimes Propecia can cause depression and mood changes. If you notice any changes in your mood after starting Propecia, stop taking it and speak to your GP.
You should not take Propecia if you are:
- a woman
- allergic to finasteride or any other ingredients in the tablets
- already taking dutasteride or finasteride for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
- under 18
You should speak to your doctor before using Propecia if you are due to have a blood test known as PSA, which is a check for prostate cancer. Propecia can affect the results of this test. There are no medications that are expected to interact with Propecia but speak to your doctor if you use any other medications.
Pregnant women should avoid taking or coming into contact with Propecia tablets, as it could affect the baby’s sex organs. Speak to your doctor if your partner comes into contact with your Propecia tablet and is pregnant.
Propecia is most effective when taken over a long period of time. In this study, over 80% of men reported that their hair loss stopped within 6 months to a year of treatment. 66% of men also reported hair regrowth.
ASDA Online Doctor also prescribes finasteride, which is a 1mg tablet containing the active ingredient finasteride. Finasteride tablets are the unbranded version of Propecia and work in the same way.
You can also find alternative hair loss treatments if Propecia is not suitable for you.
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Article created: 20 Jun 2022
Last reviewed: 20 Jun 2022
Hair loss (2021) NHS (accessed 15 June 2022)
Propecia 1mg Film-Coated Tablets (2021) EMC (accessed 15 June 2022)
Use of Finasteride in the Treatment of Men With Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Hair Loss) (2003) Science Direct (accessed 15 June 2022)
As well as topical treatments like shampoos, you can also treat your hair loss with oral tablets. Asda Online Doctor by ZAVA offers both shampoos and oral tablets to help reduce hair loss and promote new hair growth.