Propecia for Women

by on August 10, 2012

Hair loss is not just apparent among men. In fact, there are a lot of women who also suffer from female pattern hair loss. This condition is characterized by the thinning of the hair in the crown and frontal scalp area while frontal hairline remains unaffected. This type of hair loss is more prevalent in women of advanced age. It does not only lead to feelings of social anxiety and embarrassment, leaving the condition untreated often makes it worse.

While Propecia (finasteride) appears to be a good solution for male pattern hair loss, the Food and Drug Aministration (FDA) and its manufacturer does not recommend it for use in women.

What Studies Say?

Many women are wondering whether Propecia can help them with their hair loss problem. Finasteride helps treat male pattern hair loss by reducing the production of a certain enzyme called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is attributed to hair loss.

In women, 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors including finasteride have shown to be helpful in women with hirsutism. Theoretically, if female pattern hair loss is due to androgen-dependent processes that affect men, then Propecia may be equally effective in treating hair loss in women. Unfortunately most clinical studies suggest that Propecia may not be effective in treating female pattern hair loss.

On the other hand, there are some health experts that argue that female pattern hair loss is a counterpart of hair loss in men. But since the androgenic processes that occur in men has not been fully established in women, the efficacy of Propecia in treating hair loss in women remains controversial.

Since fetal exposure to finasteride during pregnancy increases the risk of malformation, most clinical trials on this medication are limited to women of post menopausal age. In one study participated by post menopausal women suffering from androgenetic alopecia, it was revealed that this medication did not improve hair loss of participants. The results of this study are quite surprising considering the efficacy of finasteride in male pattern hair loss.

On the other hand, there are some isolated case reports that suggest finasteride to be equally effective in treating hair loss in women. Because of these conflicting findings, more trials are required to establish the efficacy of finasteride in female pattern hair loss.

Health Risks of Propecia in Women

Propecia is a teratogen which can cause birth defects in the infant. In animal studies that evaluate the effects of finasteride during pregnancy, it was shown that fetal exposure to finasteride during pregnancy can result in birth defects, particularly abnormality in sexual development.

Officially, the manufacturer recommends that pregnant women, as well as all women of childbearing age, should avoid handling finasteride tablets especially when broken or crushed. Propecia risk in pregnant women has not been fully evaluated but animal studies suggest that there is an increased risk of birth defects particularly in male infants. Although Propecia tablets are coated to prevent contact with its contents, it is suggested that women avoid this medication altogether.

In studies conducted on premenopausal women, finasteride was always taken along with birth control measures. This is to ensure that pregnancy will not occur while taking finasteride.