Woman with excess hair on her arms.

Researchers Exploring Use of Propecia in Women

A recent review of studies exploring the use of finasteride by women concludes that the drug appears to successfully treat hirsutism (unwanted hair), as well as hair loss, although to a lesser degree. However, the reviewers recommend additional study. 

Long reserved almost exclusively for use by men fighting hair loss, finasteride could soon become available to women if findings from a recent review of the scientific literature convince regulators it can help women as well as men. Finasteride also treats benign prostatic hyperplasia, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, and as a hair-loss treatment is marketed under the brand name Propecia.

While officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration for these uses in men, finasteride has been extensively prescribed off-label to women as a treatment for both hirsutism and female pattern hair loss. The former is unwanted male-pattern hair growth in women, a common symptom of polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Data from 65 Studies Analyzed

In a study published in a January 2019 issue of the International Journal of Dermatology, three medical researchers affiliated with the University of California evaluated findings from 65 studies published from 1997 to 2017. Participating in these studies, all of which involved the use of finasteride in women, were 2,683 patients.

Nearly 49 percent of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) documented in the studies under review looked at the use of finasteride as a treatment for hirsutism in women. The consensus from these studies is that finasteride is a useful treatment for women with hirsutism or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

May Also Combat Hair Loss

While the reviewers found no RCTs evaluating finasteride as a hair-loss treatment in women, they did identify a number of prospective and retrospective studies that indicated finasteride may help women fight hair loss.

Based on an analysis of data from all of the reviewed studies, women took a daily dose of oral finasteride ranging from 0.5 milligram to 5 milligrams. Female participants ranged in age from 6 to 88, and more than half of them used the drug for a period of 6 to 12 months.

Further Studies Recommended

While noting the positive findings of their review in terms of finasteride’s usefulness in women, particularly as a treatment for hirsutism, the authors called for additional long-term studies. Such studies, they note, “are necessary to fully assess the therapeutic mechanisms and potential consequences of finasteride use and to optimize treatment protocols.”

Historically, the primary concern about the use of finasteride for women has focused on the potential fetal damage it might cause if a woman became pregnant. For that reason, medical professionals who do prescribe the drug to women usually urge them to employ comprehensive contraceptive methods to avoid pregnancy.

                                                                                  * * *

To stay abreast of the latest developments on the consumer health front, particularly news relevant to sexual health and function, follow our blog on a regular basis.

And if the convenience of ordering your finasteride or Propecia online appeals to you, longtime online facilitator has got you covered. If you don’t yet have a prescription, eDrugstore can set up a complimentary online consultation with a licensed U.S. physician who can authorize a prescription if appropriate. To learn more, visit eDrugtore’s Hair Loss page.