What Happens If You Stop Taking Finasteride For Hair Loss

For some men, having a full head of hair is an important part of their self-image. However, male pattern baldness can lead to hair loss. 

According to Penn Medicine, you might notice symptoms of male pattern baldness that start at your hairline, which will slowly recede backward and take the shape of the letter M. You may also lose hair in the back of your head, creating a circular pattern of hair loss. Another symptom of male pattern baldness is hair that is thinner, finer, and loses height on the sides of the head — it may even create a U shape. 

Male pattern baldness affects 20% of men in their 20s, about 33% of men in their 30s, and almost 50% of men in their 40s (per Health Direct). 

You might wonder if there are any ways to treat male pattern baldness. One treatment is a drug known as finasteride. Here's everything you need to know.

What is finasteride?

According to Penn Medicine, finasteride (brand name Propecia) is a drug that helps treat male pattern baldness by blocking the production of a certain form of testosterone that's been linked to the formation of baldness. Finasteride can also help prevent hair loss and may work better than some other male pattern baldness drugs like minoxidil (brand name Rogaine). Notably, both finasteride and minoxidil are FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of male pattern baldness. 

While finasteride may help treat male pattern baldness, it is not for everyone. The National Health Service notes that finasteride is not recommended for women, children, or men under the age of 18. It is also not suitable for people who are allergic to finasteride, those living with bladder issues, those with liver problems, or those trying to have a baby since the drug can be transmitted to the baby through semen.

If you do take finasteride, you might wonder what happens if you stop taking it all of the sudden.

What happens when you stop taking finasteride?

Finasteride is a drug that's taken once daily, reports the National Health Service. While you do not need to take it with food, it is important to take finasteride once a day around the same time. Do not crush or break it apart if you take finasteride orally via a pill. Finasteride also comes in options like topical sprays. 

According to Keeps, finasteride only works when you are taking it. So since the drug has a short half-life, it might be flushed out of your system in only a week. That means you could experience your normal rate of hair loss in as little as seven days from when you stopped taking the drug. The effects of finasteride tend to start working in four to six months. Combined with the fact that finasteride is safe to take for long periods of time, there are more benefits with regard to preventing hair loss if you maintain your routine. Of course, if you are experiencing adverse side effects, talk to your doctor about stopping finasteride and finding a new treatment.

Also, if you miss a dose of your finasteride, do not sweat it. If it has been fewer than six hours from when you normally take it, just take your dose. If it has been more than six hours, skip that day and take your dose the next day as you normally would.