When you’re pregnant or trying for a baby, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to your own wellbeing and the health of your baby. That’s why it’s important to consider the medication you’re taking and whether it’s safe during pregnancy.
Finasteride, a widely used hair loss drug, isn’t usually recommended for women because of its implications in pregnancy. So what are the risks of Finasteride in pregnancy, and what does this mean for you and/or your partner?
Finasteride is part of a group of drugs known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors minimise the production of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is converted from testosterone.
DHT binds to the hair follicles, causing them to shrink. By blocking DHT production, Finasteride can reverse this process, slowing hair loss and stimulating regrowth.
If you have hair loss during pregnancy, you may be considering a hair loss treatment like Finasteride. Studies have shown that Finasteride can effectively treat female pattern hair loss, so in limited circumstances it may be suggested by a medical practitioner as a female hair loss treatment .
But women are generally advised to avoid Finasteride, as it causes hormonal changes that can disrupt the menstrual cycle and lead to complications in pregnancy. As a result, Finasteride hasn’t been licensed to treat female pattern hair loss or any other female hair loss condition.
Studies show there may be some risks associated with Finasteride use during pregnancy, particularly at high doses [2-4].
As a result, most women are advised against taking Finasteride, especially those of premenopausal age. Even women who aren’t planning a pregnancy should avoid Finasteride, as it can cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle .
DHT is an important hormone for a developing male foetus. It’s needed for the development of sexual organs in the uterus.
As a DHT blocker, exposure to Finasteride in pregnancy may inhibit the physical development of a male foetus:
There are limited studies investigating the link between Finasteride use in pregnancy and birth defects. One research paper found that a woman who was taking 2.5mg Finasteride daily when she conceived had a healthy baby, with no birth defects .
However, researchers noted that this single case doesn’t necessarily mean Finasteride is safe to use in pregnancy, or that it’s not linked with birth defects.
Other studies have linked Finasteride exposure to hypospadias, a birth defect in boys in which the opening of the urethra is not located at the tip of the penis .
There haven’t yet been any studies to determine whether Finasteride use in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage . One study found that taking a low dose of Finasteride could damage the DNA integrity of sperm, which may lead to pregnancy loss .
Some animal studies suggest Finasteride may be linked with preterm birth, though these are experimental and the findings don’t necessarily translate to humans .
Pregnant women are often advised to avoid handling Finasteride tablets. You’re more at risk if you handle tablets that are crushed or broken, as the active ingredients are more likely to be absorbed through the skin .
If tablets are intact, the coating on the outside of the pill should stop you from absorbing any of the drug.
It’s not known if Finasteride is excreted in breast milk, so women are usually advised to avoid using Finasteride while breastfeeding .
Finasteride may be present in a man’s semen, so it’s often recommended that men stop taking Finasteride when trying to conceive.
However, most researchers agree that the amount of Finasteride in semen is low enough that the risks for foetal development are minimal . So try not to worry if you’ve conceived while your partner is taking Finasteride.
In rare cases, Finasteride can lead to sexual performance problems in men, such as erectile dysfunction. This may be problematic when trying for a baby, so men should weigh up the pros and cons of taking Finasteride during conception.
Finasteride has a half-life of between three and 16 hours, so it may take a few days for the drug to leave your system entirely . This is especially true if you’re a long-term user.
After stopping Finasteride, DHT levels will return to normal within 14 days. So it’s a good idea to stop Finasteride at least two weeks before trying to conceive.
No. Other DHT blockers may have the same negative implications as Finasteride in pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to avoid these.
This includes other 5-alpha reductase inhibitors like Dutasteride, and natural DHT blockers.
There is a possible link between DNA damage and Finasteride use [5, 10].
One study of 30 women in Saudi Arabia found that taking 5mg Finasteride every day could lead to DNA damage in lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell found in your immune system) .
Another single-patient study suggested Finasteride use could damage sperm DNA integrity . Finasteride can significantly reduce sperm count, which may also reduce the chance of pregnancy.
All the evidence suggests you should avoid taking Finasteride if you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Not taking Finasteride may reduce the risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and premature birth.
Using Minoxidil in pregnancy also poses risks. So what can you do if your hair is falling out during pregnancy?
Women’s hair loss is tricky to diagnose and treat, so specific diagnostic tools and exams are needed to unearth the root cause. So whether you’re still in the early stages of pregnancy, or experiencing postpartum hair loss, we can help.
At the Wimpole Clinic, our female hair loss treatment plans and diagnostics are designed to find out exactly what’s causing your hair loss and offer a bespoke treatment schedule that works for you.
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