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5 Effective Ways to Reduce the Side Effects of Finasteride
Dr. Correia (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Correia (GMC)
Updated on May 9, 2024

If you are interested in ways to reduce the side effects of Finasteride, you may be one of 3 million men taking this hair loss medication for male pattern baldness worldwide [1]. While this prescription treatment is generally considered safe, certain unwanted adverse reactions are commonly reported, especially sexual side effects.

However, you will be glad to know that research reveals minor differences in the number of adverse reactions reported by patients who received Finasteride, compared to those reported by placebo groups [2]. 

If you want to lower your chances of experiencing adverse reactions to Finasteride, there are several things that you can do. Taking lower doses of medication, not overthinking its side effects and improving certain aspects of your lifestyle are the best examples. 

Keep reading this article to find out more about:

Table of Contents

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a medication originally developed for treating benign prostate enlargement. It was, however, also found that Finasteride has great results in curbing androgenetic alopecia [3]. This treatment is currently the most frequently prescribed for male pattern baldness, often under the brand names Propecia or Proscar.

How does Finasteride work for male pattern baldness?

This medication reduces the activity of an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase, involved in the excessive transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT binds to androgen receptors in your hair follicles, making them shrink and stop producing new strands [3].

Finasteride pills spilling out of a bottle

What are the main side effects of Finasteride?

Men who use this treatment for hair shedding most commonly report sexual side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido or ejaculation dysfunction or, rarely, Finasteride infertility [4][2]. Psychological disorders, such as depression or anxiety, are also associated with this treatment [2][5]. 

Very rarely, patients report cardiovascular issues (e.g. heart failure) or abnormal enlargement of their breast tissue (Finasteride gynecomastia)[2]. However, Finasteride is considered safe and further evidence is needed to determine whether it has a direct, causal relationship with these conditions [6].   

The best ways to reduce the side effects of Finasteride

While all effective treatments have certain side effects, here are some of the best ways to mitigate the most common effects of this drug on your system: 

1. Try topical Finasteride

While topical Finasteride has not yet been approved for use in male pattern baldness, research finds it as effective as the oral variety [8] [9]. And applying it topically can significantly reduce the risk of systemic side effects. 

2. Use a lower dose of medication

Research shows that 1mg Finasteride is sufficient for improving your male pattern baldness, and it may also have fewer side effects than 5mg Finasteride. Make sure you take your medication as recommended by your trichologist and do not take double doses even if you missed one.

3. Avoid the nocebo effect by thinking positively

A meta-analysis of studies performed on over 60.000 patients revealed a similar incidence of reported Finasteride side effects in both real medication and placebo groups. Approximately 1 in 5 participants experienced sexual side effects in both groups, with only an additional 1%  among those who were really given Finasteride compared to the placebo group (e.g. 21.5% of users who received Finasteride reported a decreased libido, compared to 20.5% of those who received placebo) [2].

This was partially explained by the nocebo effect, a recognized scientific phenomenon where being hyperaware of the side effects of medication and expecting to experience them increases your chances of actually experiencing them [11]

4. Make healthy lifestyle changes

Smoking causes hair loss, as well as sexual dysfunctions, cardiovascular problems and many other health issues. Reducing this habit or quitting can mitigate the presumed detrimental effects of Finasteride on your sexual function and overall health. It should also be noted that eating nutritious, well-balanced meals, getting sufficient exercise and lowering your stress levels can also help with your overall health and well-being.

5. Participate in psychotherapy

Psychological therapy can improve many aspects of your life, including your libido and sexual performance, your stress levels and your likelihood of experiencing a nocebo effect from your Finasteride treatment. It can also provide relief for depression, anxiety, and other psychological side effects of this medication.   

Are Finasteride Side Effects Permanent - Review

Is it possible to have no side effects from Finasteride?

Yes, it is very possible. In fact, most Finasteride users don’t experience any adverse reactions [2]. Your likelihood of experiencing side effects depends on the medication form and concentration, your preexisting health conditions, personal biological and psychological factors, as well as your level of concern regarding side effects.  

Do Finasteride side effects go away in time?

Yes, studies show a decrease in reported side effects of Finasteride after 6-12 months of treatment. Most people stop experiencing any adverse effects after they stop taking the medication. While, rarely, patients report a post-Finasteride syndrome (persistent sexual dysfunction and/or mood disorders after ceasing treatment) [10][4], this seems to be influenced by unrelated pre-existing conditions and the nocebo effect [2][11].

Effective Ways to Reduce the Side Effects of Finasteride

What if Finasteride doesn’t work for you?

If Finasteride alone does not seem to help your androgenetic alopecia, you can try topical Minoxidil or Minoxidil combined with Finasteride, as research shows they enhance each other’s effect.  However, if this does not work either or you find you cannot tolerate the side effects of Finasteride, there may still be a good option for you: getting a natural-looking hair transplant.

The procedure is simple and painless and provides excellent results regardless of whether you opt for FUE or FUT surgery. And since a hair transplant is permanent, you can enjoy a full, luxurious head of hair 10 years or more after your hair transplant.

Book a free consultation now with one of our world-class surgeons at the Wimpole Clinic and find out if you are a good candidate for hair restoration surgery.

5 Effective Ways to Reduce the Side Effects of Finasteride, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Correia (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Correia (GMC)Updated on May 9, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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