Finasteride Side Effects

Finasteride is a generic treatment used to treat male pattern baldness, also called male pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride works to reduce DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a hormone that can cause male pattern baldness and speed up hair loss.

By reducing the amount of DHT produced, finasteride slows down hair loss and can also contribute to hair regrowth. Like all medications, finasteride has a risk of side effects. Here, we’ll inform you of the side effects to look out for and how to reduce them.

What Side Effects Does Finasteride Cause?

While taking finasteride, you may experience some side effects. Many of these will go away as your body adjusts to the medication but can persist for several weeks. If side effects bother you or do not go away, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

Uncommon side effects of finasteride include:

Men taking finasteride have reported other side effects, but there is not enough available data yet to determine how frequently these side effects happen.

Other side effects of finasteride include:

  • tenderness or swelling of the breast tissue
  • mild to moderate allergic reactions, such as itching or rash
  • blood in the semen
  • testicular pain
  • an increased heart rate
  • anxiety
  • an increase in liver enzymes, which can be diagnosed with a blood test
  • poor quality semen and infertility in males

Persistent side effects may continue after stopping treatment. If you get any of these symptoms and they do not go away once you stop taking finasteride, speak to your doctor:

  • erectile dysfunction
  • ejaculation problems
  • decrease in libido

Rare side effects of finasteride include:

  • anaphylaxis (a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction) which can cause breathing difficulties, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and throat, lumps under the skin (hives) and difficulty swallowing – if you or someone you know gets these symptoms while taking finasteride, call 999 immediately. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.
  • changes in breast tissue, such as pain, swelling, lumps or nipple discharge

If you get any of these symptoms or notice changes in your breast tissue, speak to your doctor straight away. These changes could be a sign of breast cancer.

Are Side Effects From Finasteride Permanent?

Most side effects of finasteride are not permanent. They can usually be treated or will go away on their own.

A few side effects can remain even after finishing treatment, such as erectile dysfunction, ejaculation problems and low libido. If you notice any of these symptoms and they persist after discontinuing finasteride, talk to your doctor.

How long do side effects last for?

Most finasteride side effects are temporary. They go away as you continue treatment or once you stop taking finasteride. You can stop your treatment anytime if side effects bother you too much or affect your daily life. You can also speak to your doctor about alternative hair loss treatments.

Are Side Effects From Finasteride Different to Propecia?

Finasteride is the unbranded version of Propecia. Both medications contain the same active ingredient (finasteride) and are prescribed at the same dose. The only difference is who manufactures it.

Some manufacturers may use different non-active ingredients, which are the ingredients mixed with finasteride, to create the tablets. You can check the patient information leaflet to find out what ingredients are contained in your medication.

How to Reduce Side Effects From Finasteride

There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of getting side effects from finasteride, such as:

  • only taking the dose you are prescribed
  • taking your finasteride tablet at the same time every day, so your body can get used to the treatment regime
  • informing your doctor of any other medications you are taking, as some medicines may increase the risk of finasteride side effects
  • storing finasteride tablets at room temperature
  • letting your doctor know if you have any other health conditions or are diagnosed with a medical condition whilst taking finasteride
  • taking your treatment every day and not missing doses

You may want to try switching to a topical finasteride, which is applied to your scalp instead of taking it as an oral medication.

When should I go to a doctor about my side effects?

You should go to a doctor or hospital straight away if you get serious side effects such as anaphylaxis. Make an appointment with your GP immediately if you notice changes in your breast tissue.

You should also speak to your doctor if you get side effects that do not get better or do not go away within a few weeks of taking finasteride.

If any side effect impacts your daily life, talk to your doctor.

Sexual Side Effects

Finasteride can cause a number of sexual side effects, including:

Treatment options for these side effects are available, but you should speak to your doctor first. They may recommend stopping treatment if these side effects worsen or do not go away.

Are sexual side effects permanent?

Sexual side effects can persist after discontinuing finasteride, but they often go away when you stop taking it. Most men find that these side effects gradually improve after discontinuing finasteride tablets.

For some men, these sexual side effects may be permanent, but this is rare.

Does Finasteride Cause Hair Shedding?

Yes, finasteride can cause hair shedding in the first few months of treatment. This is completely normal and part of the hair growth cycle. It is also a sign that finasteride is working properly.

How does finasteride cause hair shedding?

To understand why hair shedding happens, it is important to know how finasteride works. Finasteride prevents an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase from converting testosterone into DHT.

When too much DHT is produced, it binds to receptors in your scalp and damages the hair follicles. This causes your hair growth cycle to be shorter, especially the growth phase (anagen phase).

Eventually, new hairs will stop growing from these hair follicles. When you take finasteride and lower your DHT levels, the hair follicles can re-enter the growth phase. To do this, each hair follicle first enters the shedding phase, which is why finasteride causes hair shedding.

As your hair follicles shed hairs, this makes room for new, healthier hairs to grow.

When does finasteride hair shedding start?

Finasteride hair shedding usually happens in the first few months of treatment but can happen earlier. Remember, this occurs to make way for stronger hair strands, leading to a fuller, thicker head of hair.

How long does finasteride hair shedding last?

Hair shedding triggered by finasteride should only last around 2 weeks. If you notice that your hair shedding lasts longer than a month, speak to your doctor.

How Can I Get Finasteride?

Finasteride is only available as a private hair loss treatment, so you cannot get it on the NHS. You need a prescription for finasteride, which you can get online through Superdrug Online Doctor. This is a simple and fast way to get hair loss treatment without waiting for an appointment.

Our doctors can check your suitability for finasteride tablets for hair loss after you complete a short medical questionnaire. If suitable, finasteride will be prescribed to you and sent to your chosen address in discreet packaging. You can also collect your prescription from your nearest Superdrug Pharmacy.

Finasteride FAQs

Can finasteride cause weight gain?

Finasteride is not known to cause weight gain.

Will finasteride make me infertile?

Finasteride can affect your fertility, although this is rare. In most cases, fertility levels will increase gradually after stopping treatment. If you are trying for a baby, speak to your doctor. They will recommend that you stop taking finasteride, as it could make it harder to conceive.

Finasteride can also cause abnormalities in a male foetus and can be passed through semen to your unborn baby. It is dangerous for a pregnant woman to come into contact with a broken or crushed finasteride tablet.

Can finasteride cause high blood pressure?

Finasteride is not known to cause high blood pressure.

Can finasteride cause kidney damage?

No, finasteride does not cause kidney damage.

Does finasteride cause memory loss?

Finasteride, in very rare cases, has been linked to memory loss. It can also impact your mood, affecting your concentration and memory.

Does finasteride reduce testosterone?

No, finasteride reduces the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) produced on the scalp, which is a hormone that contributes to male pattern baldness. DHT is made with testosterone, but taking finasteride will not lower your testosterone levels.


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