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Finasteride (Propecia) - choosing the right dose

Finasteride (Propecia) - choosing the right dose

Those affected by male pattern baldness see their hair follicles decrease in size and strength over a period of time until, eventually, they experience some baldness. This process is said to be caused by high amounts of DHT, a male hormone that’s essential in the maturing stage of a man’s life, but can cause some issues later on.

In simple terms, Finasteride works by lowering your levels of DHT. This will, in most cases, stop any further hair loss and promote hair regrowth.

Finasteride is prescribed to treat both male pattern baldness (MPB), and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). But these conditions need to be treated with different doses of Finasteride.

Daniel Atkinson
Medically reviewed by
Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical lead
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Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical lead
on August 02, 2022.
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What’s the ‘normal’ dose of Finasteride?

There are two doses of Finasteride. Which one you take will depend on what you’re using it for.

The usual Finasteride dosage for hair loss is 1mg. If, on the other hand, you need Finasteride to treat an enlarged prostate, you’ll be prescribed the 5mg tablets. It’s worth knowing that 5mg isn’t any more effective than 1mg when it’s used for hair loss.

When should I use Finasteride 1mg tablets?

Finasteride 1mg tablets are usually only prescribed to people who are experiencing hair loss, or men who suffer from male pattern baldness.

There’s a branded version of Finasteride called Propecia. Finasteride 1mg tablets are essentially the same as Propecia 1mg tablets. The only real difference is price. Normally generics are cheaper, but not always due to costs related to supply chain. It's rare but sometimes a generic can be more expensive than the branded one - and some generic versions of Propecia do cost more than the branded one.

When should I use Finasteride 5mg tablets?

Finasteride 5mg tablets are only prescribed to people who suffer from BPH, a condition where your prostate becomes enlarged. There’s also a branded version of Finasteride called Proscar that is used for treating BPH.

Are there other doses of Finasteride or Propecia?

There are only two doses of Finasteride: 1mg and 5mg. Propecia is only available as a 1mg dose

Following a series of negative results in men with androgenic alopecia who used Finasteride 1mg tablets as a treatment, there has been some research into the potential use of a lower dose of medication for hair loss. Studies have trialled using Finasteride at a dose of 0.5mg to reduce the risk of side effects. There aren’t any licensed lower doses of Finasteride available for you to buy at this time.

Can I use Finasteride 5mg to treat hair loss?

No, you really shouldn’t use Finasteride 5mg tablets to treat hair loss. The increased dosage won’t work towards speeding up your hair regrowth process, and it won’t improve your treatment in any way. Taking a higher dosage than recommended will only increase your risks of side effects.

If you feel like Finasteride 1mg tablets aren’t helping your hair loss, and you’re not experiencing as much regrowth as you’d liked, speak to our clinicians. They may be able to recommend another treatment, or advise you of ways to get the best out of your treatment.

What happens if I miss my dose of Finasteride?

If you’re taking Finasteride for hair loss, the medication will be most effective if you take it at the same time every day. Missing one dose shouldn’t cause any issues, but it might be worthwhile putting a system in place to keep it from happening too often. For example, you could set an alarm for the same time every day to remind you to take your tablet.

If you forget to take your tablet one day, just resume the treatment as usual the next day. Don’t take two tablets to make up for it. This won’t be effective, and might even be counterproductive.

What if I take the wrong dose of Finasteride?

If you accidentally take more Finasteride than you should, monitor your symptoms. You should seek emergency medical help if you start to feel unwell after taking more than your maximum daily dose of Finasteride. There isn’t much need for concern as there haven’t been any reported cases of Finasteride overdose. Finasteride seems to be a safe drug in this respect.

If you’re treating BPH and should be taking 5mg tablets, but only took 1mg, it won’t matter too much. Just make sure to take the correct dose the next time. The 1mg dose won’t be enough to treat and manage BPH symptoms. Don’t take the 5mg too soon after you take the 1mg tablet. Wait for the next day to resume your treatment instead.

Which dose of Finasteride should I use?

Basically, if you're taking Finasteride for hair loss: the 1mg dose. If you're taking it for BPH: the 5mg dose.

When used for hair loss, it takes a few months to see the full effects of finasteride, so it's important to give the medication time. But if after several months of use you aren't seeing any improvement in your hair, it's worth speaking to a clinician to see if there are any other treatments that might work better for you. For some men, combining Finasteride with Rogaine can produce better results.

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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

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