What Happens When You Stop Taking Finasteride?

Our experts answer top questions and outline the expected effects of stopping Finasteride in this comprehensive guide.

Updated: Wednesday 20 December 2023

hair loss treatment

Finasteride is a male-only oral hair loss treatment that was approved for sale in the UK in 1997. It was originally available as the active ingredient in the branded hair loss treatment ‘Propecia’ manufactured by Merck. However, once Merck’s patent for Propecia expired in 2013, other pharmaceutical companies began producing Finasteride in its generic form at a lower price.

Finasteride prevents hair loss by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase - an enzyme that converts testosterone to a compound called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which shrinks hair follicles and contributes to male pattern baldness.[1] The benefits of Finasteride can be maintained with continuous use - but what happens if treatment is stopped?

Continue reading to discover how stopping Finasteride can impact hair loss and hair regrowth in both the short and long term.

A timeline of what happens if you stop taking Finasteride

Immediate effects of stopping Finasteride

The immediate effects of stopping Finasteride are not readily apparent. If you stop taking Finasteride, there is a high probability that it will remain in your system for a few days or more depending on how long you were taking Finasteride to begin with. This means the body’s levels of DHT will remain high enough for hair loss to be prevented, although DHT levels will begin to return to their normal levels as the 5-alpha reductase enzyme will no longer be inhibited.

Stopping Finasteride for a week

Once an individual has stopped taking Finasteride for a week, there is a high probability that their DHT levels will return to normal, assuming they are not affected by any condition that may cause a hormonal imbalance. Once DHT levels return to normal, the 5-alpha reductase enzyme will continue to shrink hair follicles, resulting in the resumption of hair loss.

Stopping Finasteride for 2 weeks

Stopping Finasteride for 2 weeks can result in different outcomes when compared to stopping Finasteride for a week due to the half-life of Finasteride and how this interacts with male physiology depending on the age of the individual taking it.

The half-life of Finasteride refers to the number of hours it takes for the body to remove half of the total levels of Finasteride in the individual taking it. According to the SmPC, the half-life of Finasteride is approximately 5 to 8 hours depending on the age of the individual who takes it with a longer half-life for older patients.[2] In other words, there is a higher probability of hair loss resuming quicker in young adults than in old adults after stopping Finasteride.

Stopping Finasteride for a month

Stopping Finasteride for a month may cause hair loss to return to the same rate before treatment. This is due to DHT returning to normal levels in the body. If the previous use of Finasteride resulted in a reduction in hair loss and/or an increase in hair growth, these effects are likely to be reversed.

Stopping Finasteride after 6 months

The probability of hair loss is highest upon stopping Finasteride after 6 months. With that said, it is important to note that the rate at which an individual experiences hair loss after stopping Finasteride treatment can depend on additional factors.

One such factor is a hereditary predisposition to male pattern baldness. There is empirical evidence to suggest that men with a family history of male pattern baldness are more likely to experience this condition because of its connection with the workings of the androgen receptor gene.[3] This gene is located within the X chromosome and can therefore be inherited from the man’s mother.

Stopping Finasteride: Answers to top questions

Does stopping Finasteride accelerate hair loss?

Stopping Finasteride does not accelerate hair loss - but it can cause hair loss to resume if you stop treatment as the body’s levels of DHT normalise.

Recommended reading: The role of testosterone in hair loss

How long after stopping Finasteride might cause hair to fall out?

The amount of time that elapses between stopping Finasteride and experiencing a resumption in hair loss varies from person to person. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for hair loss to resume after stopping Finasteride, depending on how quickly the body metabolises any remaining Finasteride in the bloodstream.

How long does Finasteride stay in your system after stopping?

As we mentioned earlier, Finasteride can stay in your system for 5 to 8 hours depending on how your body metabolises it based on your age. In other words, it is more likely to stay in your system for longer after stopping it if you are older as compared to if you are younger.

How long does it take for Finasteride to work again after stopping?

Finasteride takes as long to work again after stopping it as it did when you first started treatment. This can vary from person to person, which is why it is recommended to speak to a pharmacist or GP for further information about how the timeline of Finasteride’s efficacy can be affected by factors such as your age and physiological makeup.

Recommended reading: Finasteride - Before and after

Should I stop taking Finasteride if I don’t see results?

It is recommended to take Finasteride for at least 3 to 6 months to maximise the probability of experiencing the benefits of the treatment. If you do not notice an improvement in hair loss after 12 months, the treatment is unlikely to work. This can occur due to genetic differences that can cause some men to respond more favourably to Finasteride than others.

Is Finasteride safe for long-term use?

Yes, Finasteride is safe for long-term use as per the latest available NHS advice.[4] In some rare cases, the use of Finasteride can cause side effects related to sexual function - but this can be reversed if you stop taking Finasteride. It is recommended to consult a pharmacist or GP for more information about how Finasteride may specifically impact you in the long term.

Pharmica discreetly delivers Finasteride for hair loss after completing a free online consultation

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  1. Zito et al. (2022). Finasteride. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/ [Accessed 18 December 2023].
  2. Electronic Medicines Compendium. (n.d.). Finasteride 1mg tablets. Available at: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/7068/smpc#gref [Accessed 20 December 2023].
  3. Chen et al. (2023). ‘Genetic prediction of male pattern baldness based on large independent datasets’, European Journal of Human Genetics, 31, pp. 321-328. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41431-022-01201-y
  4. NHS. (n.d.). Common questions about Finasteride. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/finasteride/common-questions-about-finasteride [Accessed 18 December 2023].
Kamran Bell

Written by: Kamran Bell

Pharmacist・GPHC Number 2231070

Kamran graduated with a four-year master's degree in pharmacy from Aston University in 2021. He completed a pre-registration year at a community pharmacy before working there for a further year. At Pharmica, Kamran provides expert patient advice and addresses clinical questions to ensure the health and well-being of our patients.

Carolina Goncalves

Medically Reviewed by: Carolina Goncalves

Superintendent Pharmacist・GPHC Number 2088658

Carolina Goncalves is the Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmica, where she ensures patients receive exceptional healthcare and support, as part of a seamless online pharmacy service.

With a comprehensive professional background spanning more than 13 years, Carolina has extensive experience supporting Men’s and Women’s health. Carolina is responsible for providing expert treatment advice to thousands of patients in areas such as Sexual Health, Erectile Dysfunction, Hair Loss, Weight Loss and Asthma.

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