What happens if you stop taking finasteride?

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For men suffering from male pattern baldness, finasteride can be a game changer. But what happens if you stop taking it? Do you lose all the hair regrowth, or are the effects of finasteride permanent? What about any finasteride side effects – will I get them? Do they go away if I stop taking finasteride?

 

How finasteride works

Finasteride is the generic form of the brand-name medication, Propecia, a DHT blocker. DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is the male sex hormone that causes male pattern baldness. If you are genetically susceptible to DHT, or produce excess DHT, some of it will bind to receptors in your hair follicles, causing them to shrink. Over time, the hair follicles weaken and die, which is why hair thins and eventually stops growing.

Finasteride works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT. A drop in DHT levels allows hair follicles to increase in size and regrow hair.

 

Finasteride results are not permanent

The results of finasteride do not last forever, and finasteride will only work if you take a tablet every day. Once you stop taking finasteride, DHT levels will gradually increase, causing hair follicles to shrink again, and the natural balding process will resume after a few months.

 

What are the side effects of taking finasteride?

Studies show that taking finasteride is effective for improving hair growth and slowing the progression of hair loss. However, as with all medication, there is a small chance of experiencing side effects. Whilst rare, studies have shown that a small percentage of men report unwanted side effects when taking finasteride.

Reported adverse reactions include problems with ejaculation, reduced libido, and difficulty achieving an erection. According to research, these effects were generally reversed within five days of discontinuing the medication. This is because finasteride has a short half-life (6 hours), which means that it leaves the body relatively quickly.

 

Finasteride side effects after stopping

There are no side effects from stopping finasteride itself.

If you were experiencing side effects when taking finasteride, they should be reversed within a few days of stopping. This is because finasteride has a short half-life of 6 hours. It’s eliminated from your blood relatively quickly, and within a week, the effects should have worn off.

 

When should you stop taking finasteride?

Most men do not experience side effects, and those that do, find that side effects are mild, temporary, or both. If you notice severe effects, such as depression, anxiety, testicular pain, or any sexual side effects that do not resolve, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They may recommend that you stop taking finasteride.

Once you stop, you should start to notice the adverse reactions clear up. However, this can take a few days, even if you plan on stopping finasteride cold turkey.

If the effects of finasteride persist after you have stopped taking it, talk to your doctor. They can determine if you have post-finasteride syndrome and help you manage your symptoms as you recover.

 

Is finasteride safe in the long term?

Finasteride is considered safe with long-term use. Multiple studies have found that the number of men reporting adverse reactions in the long term is very low.

In a 10-year study involving 500 men taking finasteride, no serious side effects were reported. Mild, reversible side effects were observed in 6.8% of participants. The side effects reported mainly involved sexual side effects.

In another larger study involving 19,000 men taking finasteride for seven years, commentary from healthcare professionals involved, was that the side effects are not a reason to worry.

 

What happens if you stop taking finasteride?

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a male hormone which causes hair follicles to shrink. Shrunken hair follicles are not able to produce hair, resulting in male pattern baldness. Finasteride works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT. A drop in DHT levels allows hair follicles to increase in size, and start regrowing hair. If you stop taking finasteride, DHT levels will begin to rise. So, if you stop taking finasteride, the natural balding process will resume, and you will lose any gains or positive affects you have seen from finasteride.

When you stop taking finasteride, your hair will start to fall out again. Unfortunately, the effects of finasteride aren’t permanent, and you’ll eventually lose the hair regrowth you experienced when taking the medication. To help with hair loss, you can talk to your doctor about other ways to support the health of your hair follicles and scalp, such as using a topical treatment such as Regaine and taking supplements for hair loss.


Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.