No. Propecia does not treat female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) or any other kind of hair loss affecting women.
Propecia should therefore never be taken by women, and women who are pregnant or might be pregnant are advised never to handle Propecia tablets which are broken or crushed.
There is a pharmaceutical treatment available for women who are experiencing hair loss. Regaine for Women contains minoxidil, which is the same as the active ingredient in Regaine for Men. It is available as a ‘Regular Strength’ Scalp Solution (containing 2% minoxidil) or Once a Day Scalp Foam (containing 5%).
However, before you use this treatment for the first time, it’s advisable to have a chat with your doctor or your pharmacist. They will be able to discuss the treatment with you and advise whether or not it is suitable for the type of hair loss you are experiencing.
What is Propecia?
Propecia is a medication containing finasteride, which was approved for hair loss in the UK in 1999. It is marketed by Merck Sharp and Dohme, also known as MSD.
It works by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone in the body, which is responsible for androgenetic alopecia (hair loss) in men.
Prior to its release as a hair loss drug, finasteride was also developed and released by MSD as a medicine for benign prostatic hyperplasia (or enlarged prostate) called Proscar. However, the dosage of finasteride used in treating BPH (5mg) is five times higher than that used in the treatment of male hair loss (1mg).
In 2014, the patent on Propecia in the UK expired. This means that since, other companies have been able to produce generic versions of Propecia, called Finasteride 1mg or Aindeem, for the treatment of hair loss.
However, Merck Sharp and Dohme retain the right to produce the medicine under the Propecia brand name.
Has Propecia ever been tested on female hair loss?
(Women are more likely to experience female pattern baldness during or after the menopause. It has been suggested that a change in hormone levels could play a role in this.)
However, the study did not find Propecia to be effective in the treatment of female androgenetic alopecia.
A total of 137 women participated in the study. 67 received Propecia and 70 a placebo, for a period of one year. Hair count, patient self-assessment, photographic rating and investigator assessment were the measures used in the study. After 12 months, the women in the treatment group displayed no improvement compared to the placebo group in any of these measures.
What options are there for female hair loss?
While we’ve established that for women Finasteride and Propecia are not suitable hair loss treatments, women experiencing hair loss should still speak to their doctor.
Regaine for Women can be an effective treatment for female pattern baldness.
If there is an underlying issue responsible for hair loss, a doctor will be able to help identify and issue treatment where required.