Propecia is the branded version of the generic finasteride, a medicine used to treat hereditary hair loss (also known as male pattern baldness) in men.

Hair loss can be distressing, especially if it occurs unexpectedly or at an early age. But help is at hand – if hair loss is caused by a medical condition, then treating the medical condition can result in hair loss stopping or growing back. If not, there are various treatments available to help with hair loss, such as wigs, medicines and hair transplants. It's worth noting that no medicine is effective for everyone.

What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss in men. Around half of all men experience some hair loss by the age of 50. This often begins in the late 20s or early 30s and tends to follow a distinct pattern, beginning with a receding hairline, and progressing to thinning of hair on the temples or crown. Male pattern baldness is hereditary – so if people in your family have experienced it, you're more likely to experience it too.

What is Propecia?

Propecia is a prescription medicine supplied in tablet form. It works by helping to encourage the hair to grow back, whilst at the same time helping to prevent further hair loss. Its active ingredient is finasteride, which works by helping to block the conversion of testosterone (the primary male hormone) to dihydrotestosterone within the body. Dihydrotestosterone shrinks the hair follicles, causing the hair loss that characterises male pattern baldness.

Is Propecia suitable for me?

Propecia is formulated to treat hereditary hair loss in men aged 18 and over, and should not be taken by women. It can cause harm to an unborn baby, and clinical trials have also proven that it isn't effective in treating female pattern baldness. It isn't designed to treat hair loss due to other causes such as stress, illness, iron deficiency or cancer treatments. Propecia can be effective in treating mild to moderate (but not complete) male pattern hair loss.

You shouldn't take Propecia if:

• You're allergic to any of the ingredients

• You're female

• You're under 18

• You're already taking finasteride or dutasteride for the prostate problem known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

• You’re a man with a partner who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant

How do I take Propecia?

Propecia comes in tablet form, and the recommended dose is one tablet per day. It takes around three to six months of daily treatment for hair regrowth to be visible. Although the wait may be frustrating, the medicine won't work better or faster if you take more of it, so don't be tempted to exceed the recommended dose. If you stop taking Propecia, any areas of hair regrowth will disappear in around nine to 12 months, so you'll need to keep taking it to maintain progress.