Losing your hair can have a serious impact on your confidence. That’s why many women seek medication to tackle their hair loss. DHT blockers are known to help with men’s hair loss — but are they also effective for female pattern baldness?
Here, you’ll learn all you need to know about DHT blockers for women, including possible side effects and safety issues, as well as how effective DHT blockers can be for tackling women’s hair loss.
DHT blockers are drugs that block production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In both men and women, DHT can bind to receptors in the hair follicles and cause them to shrink, which stops them producing hair .
When DHT production is blocked, less of this hormone binds to the receptors, preserving your follicles and hair.
The most common DHT blockers are Finasteride and Dutasteride. These drugs inhibit the action of the 5 alpha reductase enzyme, which converts testosterone to DHT. But while these are often first line treatments for male hair loss, Dutasteride and Finasteride for women aren’t usually recommended.
Spironolactone is another anti-androgen that’s more likely to be prescribed for women, as it’s already used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome.
However, there are risks associated with all types of DHT blockers, particularly for women. So it’s important to understand the impact of DHT blockers before you use them.
DHT blockers can help improve symptoms of certain types of women’s hair loss, including female pattern baldness and frontal fibrosing alopecia.
But while Finasteride and Dutasteride are safe for most men to use, these drugs aren’t usually suitable for women. Evidence shows they can be effective for tackling female hair loss, but there are risks to taking these medications, especially for premenopausal women [2-3].
Oral Dutasteride and oral Finasteride can alter the levels of other hormones as well as DHT. This can interfere with the menstrual cycle and foetal development, so these drugs are not usually recommended for women. Men who are trying to conceive should also avoid these medicines.
However, topical DHT (such as the active ingredients found in DHT blocking shampoos) may offer many hair growth benefits without causing the systemic safety concerns of oral medication.
Topical Finasteride and topical Dutasteride are two of the most effective topical DHT blockers. While more research is needed to establish their safety for women, early results are promising .
These topical formulations can reduce scalp DHT levels, without significantly affecting DHT levels within the body. That means they’re less likely to cause the same systemic effects as oral DHT blockers, which is especially good news for younger women with hair loss.
Some natural products are said to have DHT blocking properties. For example, rosemary oil for hair may inhibit DHT production when applied to the scalp, although a lot more evidence is needed to prove its effectiveness as a female hair loss treatment .
Other natural DHT blockers include:
While these remedies are natural, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re safe and/or effective for everyone. In fact, you’re unlikely to see substantial regrowth results using these natural DHT blockers alone.
Because female hair loss is particularly difficult to diagnose and treat, and often has several underlying causes, it’s important to seek professional help to find the right treatment.
In general, women should avoid oral DHT blockers, as there are concerns about their safety. Topical DHT blockers may be safer, but more research is needed to determine which ones are best.
The most studied topical DHT blocker for women is Finasteride . If you’re interested in trying a DHT blocker for female hair loss, speak to a hair loss specialist who can advise if it’s a suitable treatment option for you. Topical Finasteride should only be used under the guidance of a qualified trichologist.
The most serious side effects of DHT blockers are the potential risks to foetal development. Oral DHT blockers like Finasteride and Dutasteride can interfere with the physical development of a male foetus in utero, which is why these drugs aren’t recommended for women.
Other possible side effects of DHT blockers include:
DHT blockers aren’t always suitable for women, so it may be best to seek an alternative hair loss solution. Other popular hair loss treatments for women include:
Female hair loss is often overlooked, despite the significant challenges it poses for people experiencing it. At the Wimpole Clinic, we have an experienced, specialist team that diagnoses and deals with female hair loss, helping thousands of patients restore their hair.
We specialise in finding the root cause of your hair loss, then creating a bespoke treatment plan that’s formulated to tackle your specific hair loss triggers. This often involves a combination of treatments, which may include DHT blockers for women.
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