Reading time: 6 min.
Are Finasteride Side Effects Permanent? Evidence Review (2024)
Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Updated on May 9, 2024

Many men undergoing hair loss treatment are concerned about whether Finasteride side effects are permanent or just a temporary nuisance. Considering that the most common adverse reactions reported for this treatment are sexual side effects, they can affect your relationships, as well as your quality of life and self-esteem. 

However, you will be glad to know that Finasteride’s side effects are likely temporary. While there have been rare reports of post-Finasteride syndrome, there is currently insufficient evidence that this medication is causing persistent health problems [1][2].  

Continue reading this article to discover more about:

Table of Contents

What is Finasteride?

Originally developed to treat a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia, this medication was soon revealed to possess properties that can reduce and sometimes even reverse androgenetic alopecia [3]. Oral Finasteride results were excellent in regrowing hair, so it was soon approved for use in treating male pattern baldness. This drug has since become the most frequently prescribed hair loss medication for men. 

How does Finasteride work to curb male pattern baldness?

This medication inhibits the activity of an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into a different male hormone, called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). When an excessive amount of DHT is produced, it attaches itself to specific androgen receptors in your hair follicles. This makes them become smaller and produce finer, shorter hairs until they stop functioning completely [3].

How DHT affects hair follicles causing them to shrink and stop producing hair over time

But if using Finasteride leads to the production of smaller amounts of DHT, fewer hair follicles will be affected and you will experience less hair shedding.

What are the most common side effects of Finasteride?

While several kinds of side effects have been reported with Finasteride use, it must be kept in mind that at this time, there is insufficient evidence that it is indeed this medication which is causing the self-reported symptoms [4][5].

In clinical studies, there are only small differences in the proportion of adverse reactions experienced by patients who received Finasteride and those in the control groups (some studies found no sexual side effects at all).

It appears that the nocebo effect (the expectation that you will experience unwanted side effects, which leads to autosuggestion) may account for some of this difference [5][6].

Here are some of the side effects most frequently reported by Finasteride users [7][8][9]:

bald patient consulting with a doctor

Are Finasteride side effects permanent or temporary?

Finasteride is generally safe and most patients tolerate it very well. The reported side effects are normally temporary and tend to subside after several months of treatment [8]. Several clinical studies have revealed that sexual side effects were completely reversible with the cessation of treatment [5].  

There are some rare cases of patients who reported persistent adverse reactions which lasted months and sometimes even years after they ended their treatment. Most of these side effects are sexual and psychological in nature.

This phenomenon was dubbed post-finasteride syndrome, but more evidence is required to prove that the symptoms experienced are indeed caused by the medication [2][1][5]. 

While it is possible for Finasteride to negatively influence sexual function in some men, as well as to favour mood disorders, there are also alternative theories. One of these is that men who experience post-Finastreride syndrome are probably experiencing a nocebo effect [5][6]. 

Another theory points to the correlation between hair loss, depression and sexual dysfunction in middle-aged and elderly men. Both hair loss and sexual dysfunction grow more common with age and increase the risk of developing anxiety and depression [10][11].

In turn, these mood disorders can lead to impaired sexual function [12]. So there is a chance that certain men experience a vicious circle of symptoms that feed off each other, without necessarily being connected to their Finasteride use. 

Are Finasteride Side Effects Permanent

How can you reduce Finasteride side effects? 

There are several effective ways to reduce Finasteride side effects or mitigate their impact on your body. Here are some of the best things you can try:

  • Use Finasteride 1mg instead of Finasteride 5mg – the lower dose carries a smaller chance of unwanted side effects. 
  • Switch to topical Finasteride – studies revealed no difference between oral and topical Finasteride results when it comes to reducing hair thinning. But topical medication carries a much smaller risk of systemic side effects.
  • Stay positive – Focus on the proven effectiveness of your Finasteride treatment and try not to overthink its side effects, to avoid experiencing a nocebo effect.
  • Live a healthier lifestyle – quitting smoking, eating well-balanced meals, exercising and avoiding stress can help keep sexual dysfunctions, mood disorders and cardiovascular risks at bay.  
  • Engage in therapy – professional psychotherapy can help increase your quality of life, improve your relationships, treat depression and anxiety and reduce sexual dysfunctions of a psychological origin. 

Effective alternatives to Finasteride

If Finasteride doesn’t work for you or you are considering ceasing treatment on account of its side effects (or for any other reason), there are still a few scientifically proven alternatives you can try:

  • Minoxidil – this popular hair loss treatment works by opening up the small blood vessels in your scalp, so your hair follicles can receive more oxygen and nutrients. Minoxidil combined with Finasteride works better than each of the two substances separately, but this treatment is also proven to have great effects against androgenetic alopecia on its own. For enhanced results, you can also use Minoxidil and a derma roller together, as the microneedling makes it easier for your scalp to absorb the topical Minoxidil
  • Dutasteride – While this drug may carry even higher risks of the same side effects as Finasteride, it has also been found to be more effective in treating androgenetic alopecia. However, it can only be prescribed off-label, since it has not yet been approved for hair loss treatment.
  • A hair transplant – Unlike medication which you have to keep taking – despite their side effects – to reduce hair loss, a hair transplant is permanent. The procedure is painless, requires no hospitalisation and can last a lifetime. The Wimpole Clinic has excellent success rates for both FUE and FUT-type surgeries. Check out the results in our before and after hair transplant gallery to see for yourself.

Are you concerned about your hair loss treatment?

If you are not sure whether the hair growth treatment you use is the best option for you or are concerned about its side effects, book a consultation with one of our top-tier trichologists. They will answer all of your questions and make the best recommendations, based on your particular type of alopecia, medical history and personal preferences.

Are Finasteride Side Effects Permanent? Evidence Review (2024), Wimpole Clinic

Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)Updated on May 9, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

Book a consultation

Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.