Health & Wellness

Can Women Use Finasteride to Treat Hair Loss?

The science behind how this popular hair loss medication works may help some women, but not all.
can-women-use-finasteride-for-hair-loss

Photo credit: Beauty Studio/Shutterstock.com

Colleen Travers

By 

Colleen Travers,   

Jan 16, 2020 • 3 min read

Share Blog on FacebookShare Blog on TwitterShare Blog on LinkedInShare Blog via Email

There’s a good chance that if you’re a woman you will eventually have to deal with some type of hair loss (medically referred to as alopecia). In fact, about one-third of women will have hair loss over the course of their life and among postmenopausal women, two-thirds will experience female pattern hair loss, thinning, or bald spots from the hormonal shift that’s taking place. While female hair loss is a common issue, the current treatment options for women seem scarce. Currently, the only FDA-approved option is minoxidil (also known by the brand-name Rogaine).

Finasteride (the generic form of Propecia), which is an effective treatment for men, was previously found ineffective when used by women, according to research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The study looked at the results of 137 postmenopausal women who received either 1 mg per day of finasteride or a placebo and found that after 12 months there was no hair growth or less hair thinning in the finasteride group compared to the placebo group. But good news: Updated research has found that finasteride can be an effective treatment for women in an increased dose, says Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist at Dermatology Physicians of Connecticut and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. “There have been studies (although they are not scientific studies) that show when women take 5 mg per day of finasteride they can improve the thickness of their hair,” says Dr. Gohara. 

Now for the caveats.

Because finasteride works by stopping testosterone from being converted so that it doesn't cause the hair follicles to shrink, the drug acts as a hormone blocker, which can cause issues in certain women, particularly if they are of childbearing age. “You never want to give finasteride (or spironolactone, brand name Aldactone, another hormone-blocking medication)  to a woman of childbearing age due to the possibility of causing birth defects,” says Dr. Gohara. “If a woman was pregnant and taking these drugs, then it could feminize a male fetus because it’s blocking the male hormones.” This makes finasteride a more feasible option for postmenopausal women, though Dr. Gohara adds that for a majority of women, their hair loss is not a result of testosterone imbalance, which is why finasteride is more prevalently prescribed for men in the first place. Even if it is an option for you, using finasteride may cause some unwanted side effects like breast tenderness and a decreased libido. 

As for how women can treat their hair loss, it’s important to first establish the underlying cause. Barring a metabolic issue like your thyroid or low iron levels, there are some additional ways women can treat hair loss depending on the type of alopecia they have. “For androgenic alopecia (a genetic condition), minoxidil (Rogaine)  is always an option, but there is also an emerging treatment called platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) where your own blood is drawn and spun down,” says Dr. Gohara. “The platelet-rich plasma is then reinjected into your scalp to help stimulate sleepy follicles. PRP therapy in conjunction with finasteride, spironolactone, or minoxidil, depending on the woman’s age, current health, and stage in life, is typically the course of treatment most women would use.”

· · ·

This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.

· · ·

Try the app now

FAQs • Contact Us
Our support team is available Monday through Friday 8AM - 10PM EST, and Saturday and Sunday 9AM - 7PM EST.

Blink Health will always honor the price reflected at the time you purchased your medication. Your final price is based on the medication you pick up at the pharmacy. If you pick up a different form, dosage, or quantity, you will be charged or credited the difference. Blink Health reserves the right to cancel a transaction and refund you if the underlying cost of the prescription drug changes significantly after you have purchased your medication. Blink Health reserves the right to change its prescription drug prices in real time based on supply and demand trends and other factors. Any savings claims made by Blink are based on U.S. retail prices without prescription drug coverage. *Retail Prices (Cash Prices) vary among pharmacies. The Retail Prices displayed are estimates based on multiple sources, including price lists, historical claims and data provided by pharmacies. Our Price Match Guarantee covers generic drugs. Additional conditions apply. For more details visit our Price Match page. †Delivery may be subject to delays. Free shipping is available for most orders through USPS first class shipping. If an order is placed, or if a delivery period falls, on a USPS holiday, the delivery time window will be extended by additional days, as applicable. No deliveries on Sunday or USPS holidays. Home delivery orders ship from a licensed, US based pharmacy after a valid prescription has been received. No home delivery orders will ship without a valid prescription written by a prescriber. Blink Health's pharmacy team will transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies or prescribers. Home delivery orders may be subject to delays if those pharmacies or prescribers do not immediately respond to requests to transfer prescriptions to Blink Health's pharmacy team. ‡Promotional offer excludes opioids, E.D. (i.e. sildenafil, tadalafil and generics Viagra and Cialis) and hair loss medications (i.e. finasteride, generic Propecia), and any orders that include online doctor visits for E.D., hair loss, birth control, cold sores, high cholesterol or acid reflux. Cannot be combined with other offers. Blink Health is not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the pharmacies identified. The pharmacy trademarks and logos above are the property of their respective owners. Blink Health is not offering advice, recommending or endorsing any specific prescription drug, pharmacy or other information. Please seek medical advice before starting, changing or terminating any medication or prescription.

Disclosures: Blink Health is NOT insurance or a Medicare prescription drug plan. Users are obligated to pay the price presented during the checkout process. Blink Health is available to users at participating pharmacies only. No enrollment or periodic fees apply. Our address is 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265 - 6444, www.blinkhealth.com.