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Can Women Take Dutasteride?
Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Updated on March 26, 2024

Dutasteride is a drug used to tackle male pattern baldness, as well as other health conditions related to the overproduction of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.

DHT is a male sex hormone that can safely be inhibited in men. But for women, there are risks to using Dutasteride to stop DHT production. That means women can’t usually take Dutasteride to tackle female pattern hair loss, or any other types of alopecia.

So what exactly are the Dutasteride risks for women? And are there any circumstances in which women can take Dutasteride? Here, you’ll find out everything you need to know about Dutasteride for female hair loss patients.

Table of Contents

What is Dutasteride?

Dutasteride is a type of drug known as a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor. 5 alpha-reductase, or 5AR, is an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.

DHT binds to receptors in your hair follicles, making them shrink over time. Miniaturised hair follicles are unable to produce hair, resulting in the condition we know as pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia.

By stopping the 5AR enzyme from converting testosterone to DHT, Dutasteride prevents this binding process, so your hair follicles remain healthy and continue to produce hair. Learn more about DHT blockers for women.

Can Dutasteride regrow hair in women?

Studies show that Dutasteride can regrow hair in some women with female pattern hair loss [1-2]. One three-year study found that a low dose of Dutasteride (0.15mg per day) increased hair thickness in 83% of participants, and boosted hair density in 66% [1].

female patient's hair before and 3 years after taking Dutasteride
A female patient’s hair prior to Dutasteride use (a) and after three years of taking 0.15mg of Dutasteride a day (b).

While women have lower levels of testosterone than men, testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone in people of both sexes, so both women and men can be affected by DHT.

DHT levels may be a factor in female pattern hair loss, though this hasn’t been conclusively proven [3]. But there are lots of other potential causes of and contributors to women’s hair loss, which is why it’s so difficult to diagnose and treat.

This is also one of the reasons why Dutasteride isn’t a first-line treatment for female hair loss. If hair loss isn’t related to DHT levels, Dutasteride won’t have any impact — but the side effects can still be damaging for women.

What happens when women take Dutasteride?

Dutasteride has the same effect on women as on men. Like Finasteride, another 5AR inhibitor, Dutasteride stops the conversion of testosterone to DHT in the body.

chemical structure of testosterone and DHT

This process isn’t inherently dangerous for women, but it can pose risks in pregnancy and disrupt the menstrual cycle. Dutasteride can affect a woman’s progesterone levels, a hormone that’s key for regulating your period.

Inhibiting DHT may interfere with the development of sex organs in male foetuses. So women (especially premenopausal women) are generally advised to avoid Dutasteride and Finasteride to minimise the risk of a baby’s exposure to these drugs during pregnancy.

Topical Dutasteride may offer a safer, alternative option for women. While more evidence is needed to prove its safety and effectiveness, topical Dutasteride may reduce the risk of systemic side effects like those mentioned above.

What are the results of Dutasteride for women?

For women who are at low or no risk of these problems (for example, women who have been through the menopause or have had a hysterectomy), Dutasteride is a promising solution for tackling female hair loss. 

Older women are at greater risk of developing female pattern hair loss. Up to 40% of women aged 60-69 are affected, so it’s important to explore all possible treatment options, including Dutasteride [5].

These images show some of the results eligible women might expect from Dutasteride:

Female patient before and 18 months after taking Dutasteride for hair loss
A: Decreased hair density along the parting prior to treatment. B, Slight increase in hair density after 18 months of Dutasteride treatment.
3 female patients before and 18 weeks after taking Dutasteride for hair loss
Three female patients at baseline (a, c, e) and after 18 weeks of Dutasteride mesotherapy (small injections of a solution containing Dutasteride directly into the scalp) (b, d, f).

Can postmenopausal women take Dutasteride?

Postmenopausal women are more likely to be prescribed Dutasteride because the pregnancy risks are vastly reduced. 

However, Dutasteride isn’t suitable for all postmenopausal women. It all depends on what’s actually causing your hair to fall out. That’s why it’s so important to get an accurate diagnosis from a knowledgeable hair loss clinic.

Hair loss blood tests, trichological exams, and other assessments are essential for finding the best female hair loss treatment for you.

Is Dutasteride used off-label in women?

Dutasteride is an off-label drug for anyone, regardless of sex or gender. Dutasteride hasn’t been licensed for use as a hair loss treatment in the UK yet, but some doctors may prescribe it if they agree it’s the right treatment for your hair loss.

What other female hair loss treatments are available?

If Dutasteride isn’t the right treatment for your hair loss, there are plenty of others that may be better suited to you. Other effective female hair loss treatments include:

  • Minoxidil — Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical treatment that’s often the first port of call for women with hair loss. Minoxidil 2% is often recommended for female patients.
  • Low-level laser therapy — LLLT is a non-invasive therapy that uses concentrated light beams to stimulate blood flow to the scalp.
  • Female hair transplants — Getting a hair transplant is an effective way to restore your hair if you have permanent hair loss.

It’s important to get a diagnosis before you start treatment to establish the underlying causes of your hair loss. This can help us find the right treatment plan from the start, so you can see successful hair restoration sooner.

Book a consultation with our team of female hair loss specialists to get started.

Can Women Take Dutasteride?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)Updated on March 26, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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