Hair loss treatments

Stopping Finasteride

Concerned man considering stopping finasteride for hair loss.

Treating hair loss often requires commitment and medications like finasteride may need to be taken indefinitely in order to stop the progression of pattern hair loss and encourage hair regrowth.

In this article, we’ll cover the reasons for why finasteride needs to be taken consistently and what could happen if you stop taking finasteride. We’ll also take a look at current data on the safety of taking finasteride long term and consider whether stopping finasteride has any impact on side effects.

What happens when you stop taking finasteride?

When you stop taking finasteride, levels of the drug will continue to decrease until it is no longer present in the body. As this happens, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels will gradually increase and may return to pre-treatment concentrations. In very rare cases, DHT levels will continue to be suppressed in some men.

The effectiveness of finasteride depends on its ability to lower concentrations of DHT. This suppressive effect lasts only as long as the medication exists within the body. When you take finasteride following the dosing recommendations of your doctor, you help maintain a level of finasteride sufficient to produce a therapeutic effect while the body continues to excrete it.

Side effects while taking oral finasteride? Topical finasteride might be an option.

Minimize the chances of side effects without losing any hair loss stopping benefits.

How long after stopping finasteride will my hair fall out?

You can expect shedding and hair loss to resume within a matter of weeks after stopping finasteride. When you stop taking finasteride, DHT levels begin to increase. Increased DHT levels mean that hairs previously maintained with the help of finasteride will resume miniaturizing.

Miniaturization is the natural process triggered by elevated levels of DHT in genetically susceptible men that causes hair follicles to shrink and stop producing healthy hairs.

Because this process can happen quickly, it’s important that you do not attempt to change your dose of finasteride yourself before speaking with your doctor.

Is finasteride safe long term?

The medical community recognizes finasteride as a generally safe and well-tolerated medication. This is further supported by data from long-term studies that report successful stabilization of hair loss without the presence of chronic or serious adverse effects (Yanagisawa et al., 2019).

Men who do experience finasteride side effects generally find that these resolve over time. However, in very rare cases, patients have reported sexual, physical or neuropsychiatric side effects that develop shortly after starting finasteride treatment and persist even after stopping the medication. If you’re concerned about the possibility of developing long term side effects while taking finasteride, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about your individual risk level.

Summary of key issues concerning stopping finasteride

Does stopping finasteride make side effects go away?

In general, stopping finasteride does lead to a reversal of side effects. There have only been a few cases of persistent side effects reported in the literature and a direct causal relationship between finasteride and long term side effects has not yet been established (Singh & Avram, 2014). If you are concerned about long term side effects, we recommend that you speak with a doctor to consider what other options may be available to treat your hair loss. A doctor may recommend an alternative dosing schedule or trying a lower dose of finasteride.

Depending on the severity of your hair loss and medical history, a doctor can also help determine whether you'd be a candidate for topical finasteride. Topical formulations of finasteride have been associated with a lowered risk of developing adverse effects.

There are many reasons why finasteride is the treatment of choice for male pattern hair loss. These include the fact that there are few other drugs that directly target the core cause of male pattern hair loss, finasteride’s proven efficacy and extensively studied safety profile (Mysore, 2012). Still, some men do experience side effects that can negatively impact their quality of life. It is always your choice whether to take a medication or not and review your options with your doctor.

Stopping finasteride: Takeaway

Finasteride is an effective treatment for male pattern hair loss but patients may need to take the medication indefinitely to derive the greatest therapeutic benefit. Currently available study data appear to support the safety of long term finasteride use.

It’s important to follow the dosing instructions provided to you by your doctor. For your safety, we encourage you to engage your doctor before attempting to alter dosing. If you do decide to stop taking finasteride, your doctor may be able to recommend an alternative treatment.

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