Finasteride (generic Propecia®) is a prescription tablet that is used to treat hereditary hair loss. Taking finasteride as prescribed can stop hair loss and help regrow some hair, but what happens if you stop taking it every day?
First, a quick recap on how finasteride helps stop hair loss.
Male pattern baldness (also knows as androgenetic alopecia) is a hormonal condition that occurs when hair follicles shrink and thin out over time, until they stop growing. This permanent hair loss condition occurs because of a genetic sensitivity to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is a hormone that comes from testosterone and weakens our hair follicles (thanks, Mom and Dad!).
Because MPB is genetic, the most effective way to stop and prevent further hair loss is to block DHT production, which is exactly what finasteride does. Finasteride blocks the action of the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, called 5α-reductase, and prevents your body from producing DHT all together.
Hence, finasteride not only protects and strengthens your hair, but also effectively minimizes hair loss. According to clinical trials, a daily dose of 1mg of finasteride halted hair loss in 86% of men, while 65% of those men experienced a significant increase in hair growth. With consistent daily use over 3-4 months, these results should be visible.
Learn more: How to take finasteride
Finasteride has a relatively short half-life. So, once you stop taking the tablet, its effects should be out of your system within seven days and you can expect to see your usual rate of hair loss (what you experienced prior to taking the medication) return.
Why? Without finasteride, your body will not be able to block 5α-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. For as long as you want to prevent hair loss, keep what you have, and even regrow more hair, finasteride is your best friend.
Learn more: How long until finasteride starts working?
Yes, finasteride is safe! A seven-year-long study tested the effects of long-term consumption of finasteride and observed no serious long-term consequences.
However, there are possible side effects of taking finasteride. Though rare, in clinical trials, 3.8% of male patients taking finasteride noticed some form of sexual side effects, including less desire for sex, difficulty in achieving an erection, or a decrease in the amount of semen released during sex. (2.1% of patients taking placebo reported similar side effects). These side effects may continue after stopping the treatment, so contact your doctor if you have any additional questions. You may also report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In short, after quitting finasteride you can expect to see progress fade. But if you want to maintain what you have and achieve a fuller head of hair, continue using finasteride and join those 86% of men who stopped MPB in its tracks and kept their hair.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
Finasteride is an oral medication used to treat male pattern baldness in men only. It is not for use by women. When used by men, finasteride is generally safe but it can also cause serious side effects, including but not limited to allergic reactions, sexual dysfunction, and high-grade prostate cancer. Most patients find that problems with sexual function resolve when they stop taking the medicine. For full prescribing information, view the drug label information.