What happens when you stop taking finasteride?
Dr. Aysha Butt is the Medical Director of FROM MARS, and is a GP Partner at Woodcote NHS Medical Practice.
You’ve been using finasteride. You’re pleased with the results. Your hair game is strong once again. Are you done now?
What happens if you stop taking it? Will you keep the hair you’ve gained, or will you lose it again? Let us tell you how it works.
Finasteride, and its branded version, called Propecia, are treatments for male pattern baldness (MPB). MPB is the most common form of hair loss in men. In basic terms, MPB is a form of hair loss that’s caused by hormones. The main culprit is a version of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT for short.
DHT can make some of your hair follicles shrink over time. This gives the hairs less time to grow, so they become thinner and shorter. As the follicle continues to shrink, it can reach a point where it doesn’t produce any hair at all. Your hair goes from thinning to bald.
This is where finasteride comes in. It gets to work by blocking the enzyme (5α-reductase) that converts testosterone into DHT. This lowers the levels of DHT in your scalp, stopping your follicles shrinking. When taking finasteride daily, up to 90% of men stop losing hair, and many re-grow hair, in as little as four to six months.
Does finasteride stop working if you stop taking it?
Unfortunately, yes, finasteride does stop working once you stop taking it. We’ll explain.
What happens when you stop taking finasteride?
Finasteride only works as long as you’re taking it. The drug is used up quickly inside your body, which is why you need to take it every day. If you stop taking finasteride, your body will use it up and you’ll no longer have any left in your system. Your levels of DHT in your scalp will rise and your follicles will start to shrink again. Your hair will thin and recede like it did before.
Can I stop taking finasteride cold turkey?
Yes, you can stop taking finasteride cold turkey. There are no known adverse reactions to stopping finasteride abruptly. However, if you do stop taking it, your MPB will continue.
How long does it take finasteride to get out of your system?
Finasteride has a half-life of around six hours. This means that six hours after taking it, half of it has attached to the enzymes in your body. This continues, after 12 hours 75% of it has been used, after 18 hours 87.5% has been used, and so on. After a couple of days, all the finasteride in your body will have been used up. However, the enzyme it blocks has a half-life of 30 days, so you’ll still have blocked enzymes in your body, resulting in lower DHT levels, for up to 90 days later.
Is finasteride safe to use long term?
If you want to fight MPB long term, you’re going to need to take finasteride long term too, maybe for years.
But is it safe to use a prescription drug like finasteride every day for years?
We have good news for you now. In most cases, yes, it is. There have been long term scientific studies of finasteride use, for five years, seven years, and even 10 years, and these studies found no significant consequences of taking finasteride long term. There were no additional side effects that emerged with long term use.
There is an exception though. In a small number of men, finasteride may cause lasting sexual problems, and these may be worse the longer that finasteride is used. The chances are you won’t experience these side effects. Most men don’t, but they are a possibility.
Do finasteride side effects stop if you stop taking the medication?
For the majority of men who experience side effects, they do stop after they stop taking the meds.
However, some research has shown sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction may persist for some men who stop taking finasteride, sometimes for months or even years. This can be worse the longer they take finasteride.
This research is still in its early days, and it’s not known how this happens. Until more research is conducted, it’s important to know that most men don’t experience sexual side effects when taking finasteride. And for those men that do, these side effects almost always disappear when they stop taking the meds. You can talk to your doctor, or one of our doctors, if you’re worried about any side effects.
Interested in trying finasteride?
If you’d like to try finasteride, you can order it directly FROM MARS. Our doctors are licensed to provide prescriptions in the UK.
All you need to do is complete your online consultation by entering your medical history and symptoms. If approved, you’ll receive a treatment plan within two hours and your medication will arrive the next day.