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Finasteride is a prescription medication that is licensed to treat enlarged prostate and male pattern baldness in men. By blocking the conversion of testosterone into DHT, the medicine can help shrink the prostate, stop hair loss, and regrow hair. Finasteride comes in tablet form and is available in two strengths, including 1 mg for hair loss treatment and 5 mg for enlarged prostate treatment. A number of side effects have been reported with this drug, including impotence, decreased libido, and breast enlargement.

What Is Finasteride?

Finasteride (marketed under the brand names Propecia® and Proscar®) is a prescription medicine that has been licensed for the following uses:
 
  • Treatment of male pattern baldness.

 

  • Treatment of enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate is also known medically as benign prostatic hyperplasia, benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH.
     
(Click What Is Finasteride Used For? for more information on what it is used for, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Who Makes Finasteride?

Brand-name finasteride (Proscar or Propecia) is manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc. Generic finasteride is made by several manufacturers.
 

How Does It Work?

Finasteride works by blocking the conversion of testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which decreases the amount of DHT in the body. Since DHT is important for enlargement of the prostate, using finasteride to decrease DHT levels can treat an enlarged prostate. The medication helps to shrink the prostate in most men, helping with their BPH symptoms.
 
DHT is also important for male pattern baldness. By decreasing the amount of DHT, the medication can help stop hair loss and regrow hair.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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