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DHT Blockers For Women: Results, Side Effects, Safety
Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Updated on June 18, 2024

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.

Table of Contents

What are DHT blockers?

DHT blockers are drugs that block the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In both men and women who are suffering from androgenetic alopecia (female or male pattern hair loss), DHT can bind to receptors in the hair follicles and cause them to shrink, which stops them from producing hair [1].

hair follicles shrink infographic

When DHT production is blocked, less of this hormone binds to the receptors, preserving your hair 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. While these are often first-line treatments for male androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness), Dutasteride and Finasteride for women aren’t usually recommended who are suffering.

Spironolactone is another anti-androgen that’s more likely to be prescribed for women, as it’s already used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

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 as a hair loss treatment.

Do DHT blockers work for women’s hair loss?

DHT blockers can help improve symptoms of certain types of women’s hair loss, including female pattern hair loss and frontal fibrosing alopecia.

female patient's hair before and 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).
female patient before and 18 months after taking Dutasteride
Decreased hair density along the parting prior to treatment (A). Slight increase in hair density after 18 months of Dutasteride treatment (B).

While Finasteride and Dutasteride are safe for most men to use to treat their thinning hair, 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 DHT blockers for women’s hair loss

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 [4].

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.

Natural DHT blockers for women’s 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 [5].

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 hair regrowth results using these natural DHT blockers alone.

Female hair loss is particularly difficult to diagnose and treat as it often has several underlying causes such as stress, vitamin deficiencies, and hormonal imbalances. Therefore it’s important to seek professional help to find the right hair loss treatment.

What’s the best DHT blocker for women?

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 [7]. 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.

Side effects of DHT blockers for women

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:

  • Changes to the menstrual cycle (spironolactone, Finasteride, Dutasteride)
  • Breast tenderness (spironolactone)
  • Increased urination (spironolactone)
  • Skin irritation (topical DHT blockers)

Alternatives to DHT blockers for women

DHT blockers aren’t always suitable for women, so it may be best to seek an alternative hair loss solution. Other hair loss treatments for women include:

  • Minoxidil — Minoxidil works by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles, providing them with more nutrients and oxygen which can promote hair growth.
  • Vitamin therapy — Women with vitamin deficiencies may benefit from vitamin supplementation as part of a controlled hair regrowth treatment plan that will help restore hair health.
  • Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) — Like Minoxidil, LLLT (such as red light therapy for hair growth) stimulates blood flow as well as cell proliferation, promoting hair growth.
  • Female hair transplants — Hair transplants can restore permanently lost hair by transplanting healthy follicles to the thinning areas on your scalp.
Trichologist examining a woman with thin hair problems

Getting treatment for female hair loss

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 and hair thinning, 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.

Start your hair loss recovery journey with the Wimpole Clinic. Book a consultation today.

DHT Blockers For Women: Results, Side Effects, Safety, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)Updated on June 18, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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