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Finasteride for Women

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

March 26, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

Finasteride for Women and Alternative Hair Loss Treatments

Can female pattern hair loss be stopped? What treatments are available for female hair loss? Can women take finasteride for hair loss? If you have noticed too much of your hair falling out or thinning lately, you may have these questions and more. 

Unfortunately, there has been much less research done on hair loss in women than in men. Let’s look at what we do know and whether you can get hair loss treatment online.

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How Does Finasteride Work?

Finasteride is a type of medication called a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. It works by blocking the body’s production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a common cause of hair loss. 

DHT is an androgen, which is a male hormone that is also present in lower amounts in women. Too much androgen may be responsible for hair loss in both men and women.

Does Finasteride Work for Hair Loss in Women?

Unfortunately, not many studies have been done on finasteride in women, primarily because it can cause birth defects and should not be taken by any woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. 

Research seems to suggest that finasteride does not work for women at the same 1 mg dose that works for men. Some studies show that finasteride may help women at 2.5 mg or 5 mg doses. More research is needed, but there is some evidence that finasteride can work for hair loss in women at higher doses than those for men.

What Treatments Are Available for Female Hair Loss?

The only FDA approved treatment for hair loss is topical 2% Rogaine (minoxidil), which is available over the counter. Here are some other potential treatment options that have not been FDA approved (yet), which may be effective for female hair loss.

Minoxidil (Rogaine) 5%

Only available by prescription, the 5% concentration of Minoxidil has been FDA approved for use in men, but not women. Small clinical trials have shown that women experience more hair regrowth using the 5% formulation compared to the 2% formulation. Some doctors will prescribe 5% minoxidil for women.

Estrogen and Progesterone

For women who are going through menopause or have low levels of female hormones, estrogen and Spironolactone may help treat hair loss.

Oral Contraceptives

Birth control pills decrease the production of ovarian androgens, so they can be effective in treating androgen-related hair loss. However, there are many risks associated with oral contraceptives, no matter what you’re taking them for. For example, smokers over the age of 35 are at a much higher risk of developing blood clots when taking oral contraceptives.

Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar)

Finasteride has only been FDA approved to treat hair loss in men. It can cause birth defects, so it should never be taken by women or are pregnant or may become pregnant. Some doctors may prescribe finasteride for women if they are on a reliable form of birth control (or who have gone through menopause).

Spironolactone (Aldactone)

Usually used to reduce fluid retention, spironolactone is a diuretic (“water pill”) that works as an anti-androgen. It may work to help treat hair loss in women.

Cimetidine (Tagamet)

Mostly used to treat ulcers, cimetidine is a histamine blocker with a relatively powerful anti-androgenic effect that has shown promising results in high doses for treating hair loss in women.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Dosage of Finasteride Works for Women?

More research is needed to be sure. Studies seem to suggest that 2.5 mg of finasteride may have the best results with the fewest side effects for women.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Finasteride?

While the side effects of finasteride in men are well-documented, there is not much information available about potential side effects for women. Based on limited studies, side effects for women could include:

  • Decreased libido
  • Headache
  • Increased body hair growth
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

It is important to note that depression is a known potential side effect of finasteride for men that could also affect women.

What Happens if a Woman Takes Finasteride?

Does finasteride work for women? Early research suggests that finasteride may slow hair loss and increase hair regrowth in women at higher doses than it does for men. 

It takes at least 3 to 6 months to start to see results, and the best results are typically after at least 9 to 12 months of treatment.

However, it is important to reiterate that finasteride can cause birth defects and should not be taken by women who are pregnant or could become pregnant.

Can You Get Finasteride Online?

Finasteride is available by prescription only, meaning you must talk to a doctor before getting it. That being said, you can have a virtual appointment with a doctor. If they decide finasteride is right for you, they can electronically send a prescription to your preferred pharmacy.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Get Finasteride for Women’s Hair Loss Online

If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, you should not take finasteride. If you would like to discuss any potential treatments for women’s hair loss, whether it is finasteride or something else, the trusted doctors at PlushCare are here to help.

You can schedule an appointment to have a video chat with one of our licensed doctors by clicking here or downloading the PlushCare App.


Read More About Finasteride


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Mayo Clinic. Finasteride (Oral Route). Side effects. Accessed on March 19, 2021 at
https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/finasteride-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20063819

U.S.National Institutes of Health. International Journal of Dermatology. The efficacy and use of finasteride in women: a systematic review. Accessed on March 16, 2021 at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30604525/ 

U.S. National Institutes of Health. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. Finasteride and Its Potential for the Treatment of Female Pattern Hair Loss: Evidence to Date. Accessed on January 19, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7060023/

U.S. National Institutes of Health. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Finasteride treatment of hair loss in women. Accessed on March 16, 2021 at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20442354/

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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