Women and Propecia Side Effects – What the Research Says

A lot has been written about Propecia side effects when it comes to men. But what about women? We all know that women lose their hair as well, even though women typically experience it differently than men. Men tend to suffer from male pattern baldness at the upper temples and the crown of the head, while women tend to lose hair more uniformly across their entire scalp, in a gradual thinning. However it happens, hair loss is an issue for both males and females.

Originally created as a treatment for enlarged prostate and marketed as Proscar (generic name finasteride), Propecia is a hair-loss medication that many people turn to. And while the American Hair Loss Association lists this remedy as a medication that women can take, it should be noted that the FDA has yet to approve it for women because there’s not sufficient research. This means that the potential side effects for women are not sufficiently known either. Women are generally advised not to use the medication while pregnant or to get pregnant while using it, due to the risk posed to the developing fetus due to finasteride’s hormonal effects. But with so much unknown, how safe are women taking it?

Propecia for women
The role Propecia plays in female pattern hair loss is still controversial. The results are varying with some showing success and other failure.

Studies on Propecia Side Effects in Women

There have been a few studies focused on using Propecia for reversing hair loss in women, with different results. A yearlong study from 2000 did not find Propecia was effective for women, but did also not find any negative side effects. The study involved 137 postmenopausal women who received 1 mg Propecia daily.  More recent case studies have reached the conclusion that finasteride could be effective for female pattern hair loss if the dose was increased to between 2.5 mg and 5 mg daily.

A 2012 study designed to find the exact minimal effective dosage, used 1.25 mg daily for 28 weeks. This study concluded that while the treatment did show results, it was probably not the most efficient dosage. Patients showed increased hair density and hair loss stopped, but hair growth did not return. So while researchers have not found the optimal dosage, Propecia’s role in female pattern hair loss is still controversial.

While some women with female pattern hair loss might benefit from Propecia, a better understanding of the side-effects and ideal dosage are needed. Some of the known side effects for women that have been observed are heat flashes, increased body hair growth, and sweating—although the same effects were observed in women who received a placebo treatment, and could be related to menopause. The main concern is that Propecia can affect male fetuses, including signs of feminization and various birth defects. The drug is so potent that pregnant women are advised to not even touch crushed or broken tablets because Propecia can be absorbed through the skin.

How Does Propecia Work in Women?

Hair loss continues to be a common problem and is normally even more distressing and upsetting for women than for men. Our hair plays a huge part in our self-image and losing it prematurely and unwantedly is likely to affect our self-esteem. Women will twice as often as men become very-to-extremely upset when experiencing hair loss. This means there will always be a market for a hair loss treatment that works, and researchers are still hard at work trying to find it.

Different types of hair loss require different approaches. While male pattern baldness is primarily caused by sensitivity to testosterone, this is not the root cause of all female pattern hair loss. Women also produce a certain amount of testosterone, but only some women that suffer from hair loss display an elevated amount of the hormone.

Propecia, or finasteride, works by targeting the enzyme type II 5α-reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone in our bodies to the more potent male hormone dihydrotestosterone, DHT, which causes hair loss. It was initially believed that finasteride would be effective in treating hair loss in women who had an elevated amount of testosterone, so called hyperandrogenism. But results from studies were inconsistent, and as mentioned above, success was not universal.

Still a Few Question Marks

In conclusion, there is no clear evidence either one way or the other, and Propecia may or may not work for you. Further research into what kind of woman is a good candidate for this medication must be conducted. Researchers also have little information on what the optimal dosage for women is. Any noticeable results may take at least 6 months, and in some cases even longer. And much like when men are using Propecia, the effects are not sustained without continued treatment.

What You Can Do Instead

Take a look at your habits. If you do not feel like risking anything and want another solution to your hair loss, start by treating the underlying problem. If it is not genetic, your hair loss could be caused by factors like stress, lack of sleep, lack of certain nutrients or an unhealthy lifestyle. Make sure you eat enough protein, since protein is the main building block of hair. Drinking enough water and exercising regularly also helps.

Check with your doctor. It could also be a thyroid disorder, hormonal imbalance or skin infection like scalp fungus. Getting a proper diagnosis is key to solving your individual issue.

Look over your medications. In some cases, sensitivity to a certain medication can contribute to and worsen hair loss. This even goes for common medications like Aleve, Motrin or antidepressants.

Take care of your hair. Avoid hairstyles that pull or tug on your hair like tight braids, cornrows or hair extensions. Do not wash your hair too often, and use a natural shampoo and conditioner – or even homemade ones. Skip the hairspray and other products with chemicals for a while.

Choose a natural supplement. Taking a supporting supplement or vitamins that you suspect you are deficient in could go a long way.

Thinning Hair in Older Women – Why Does Hair Thin with Age and What Can We Do?

thinning hair in older women

One of the chief complaints of women as they age is the appearance of their hair. Thinning hair in older women is something that many just accept as the way of life. What was once lush becomes drier, thinner, and less voluminous. There are several possible causes for hair becoming thinner as one ages, some of which can be helped.

Hormonal Changes – the Most Common Reason for Thinning Hair in Older Women

As women age, the levels of estrogen they produce begin to decline. Estrogen does several things that promote thick hair. Therefore, the loss contributes to thinner hair in several ways as well. First, estrogen lengthens the growth stage of hair. This means more follicles of hair are growing at a given time when estrogen production is at an ideal level. It also stimulates the growth of new hair, after the old hair has shed.

Estrogen plays an important role in the overall appearance of hair. It is easy to see why an imbalance could cause hair to begin to look thinner over time. There is very little that can be done to increase the natural production of estrogen once menopause has started. However, many natural and synthetic forms of estrogen can be taken to increase estrogen levels.

Thinning Hair in Older Women
Often the reason for thinning hair in older women is hormonal imbalance. Estrogen can be taken as a supplement.

Nutritional Deficiencies – Nutrients are Processed Less Efficiently

As women age their bodies begin to process nutrients less efficiently. Many vitamins and minerals are necessary for hair growth. Iron and Vitamin C are good examples of this.

Iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss in several studies. As the body ages, it can become more difficult for it to obtain the iron it needs from foods. The deficiency can then lead to thinner hair. Interestingly, a Vitamin C deficiency can contribute to the iron deficiency. This is because, without enough Vitamin C, the absorption of iron from foods such as red meat becomes more difficult.

There are a great number of nutrients that play a part in thinning hair in older women. In addition to iron and Vitamin C, getting enough magnesium, B vitamins, selenium, niacin and zinc is important. Some deficiencies can be helped with a diet change or nutritional supplements. Nutrafol is a supplement that contains Vitamin C, Selenium and Zinc – among other things.

Stress Can be a Factor with Thinning Hair in Older Women

As we age our stress levels increase. Additionally, realizing that we are aging can cause additional stress. High levels of stress over a long period leads to increased cortisol production. This can have an negative impact on hair growth and lead to hair appearing thinner.

Cortisol is a hormone created in response to all types of stress. High levels mean that the body is busy producing this one hormone. And therefore producing less of the hormones that promote healthy hair growth. By reducing stress levels, it can be possible to reduce the cortisol levels and bring the body back to balance. Some methods for stress reduction include physical activity, enough amounts of sleep, and laughter.

As we age, it is not uncommon for women to become more aware of their physical appearance and how it is changing. While many women dread the changes, some steps can be taken to keep a youthful look. Healthy hair is one of the most visible signs of our appearance. With attention to diet and supplements, it can be possible to help hair regain some of the fullness of youth.


Featured image by Romana Klee

Female Hair Loss and How to Prevent it

Female hair Loss

Female hair loss may be less observed than men’s, but nearly 40 percent of all women experience visible hair loss or thinning hair by the age of 40. Hair loss can be devastating – it can make you feel depressed or fill you with anxiety in social situations. What if there was a way to help slow down the process or to take preventative measures before its onset?

Top 4 Causes For Female Hair Loss

Hormonal Changes: Menopause, new medications, birth control, pregnancy, thyroid conditions, stress, genetics, and surgery.

Hair Products: Overuse of flatirons, curling irons, blow dryers, hair products, relaxers, and chemical coloring products.

Poor Nutrition: Iron deficiency, crash dieting, fatty foods, and too much sugar intake can all cause hair loss in women.

Traction Alopecia: This is a hair condition caused by wearing your hair in very tight ponytails or applying daily force on it – topknots or tight headgear are common causes.

What Can I Do About it?

Female pattern baldness affects millions of American women. The Savin Scale is a common measurement that can define the density of the hair as a whole. It can determine what range your head of hair falls into and ranges from normal to bald. Which range you fall into can determine what your next steps can be to help prevent the situation from worsening.

Caring For Your Hair and Scalp

If you are suffering from significant female hair loss, just starting to lose your hair, or have thinning hair, don’t give up! You can help prevent or even reverse hair loss by making a few changes.

Consider eating better. Stock up on foods containing healthy nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, protein, and foods rich in vitamin B. Be sure to eat nutrient-rich foods like eggs, fat fish like salmon, mussels, fruits, vegetables like carrots and spinach, beans, and lean meats.

Take care of your scalp, and massage it. This helps with blood circulation and keeps the scalp moisturized. Use your favorite oil if you like and move in gentle circular motions, massaging for five to ten minutes per day. Use this same technique when shampooing.

Female hair Loss
Blow drying your hair or using other heated styling tools can cause your hair to break.

Be kind to your hair, and avoid heated hair tools and too many styling products. Air-dry hair when you can. This helps prevent the hair shafts from breaking off and can make your hair look fuller.

Switch your hair part. Just changing the direction of your hair can make it look like it has way more volume and help mask a bit of the thinning.

Change your brush. Using brushes with boar bristles or flexible nylon are better for your hair than metal ones, which can overheat when used in conjunction with blow dryers, or cause breakage with their hard bristles.

Don’t Give Up

There are many ways to help prevent female hair loss. Times have changed and hair health remedies are becoming plentiful. Choose what works best for you – you’re in control! Many modern hair supplements contain only natural ingredients that help provide nutrition from the inside out. Healthy hair growth is a stepping-stone to helping you feel better about yourself, boost your self-esteem and confidence.