There is no traditional withdrawal from finasteride, such as cravings. Still, some cisgender men do experience specific symptoms, known collectively as post-finasteride syndrome, which are more a continuation of the drug’s side effects. For example, some people have a reduced libido even after they stop taking the medication.
Why do these reactions occur? It all has to do with the fact that finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. That means it blocks the synthesis of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). At the same time, it may prevent key enzymes for performing other tasks, too.
How Long Do Finasteride Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
It’s unclear how long these symptoms last. For some, they may stop after just a few months. Others report sexual dysfunction that is permanent, even after they stop taking finasteride.
Post-finasteride syndrome (PFS) is defined as persistent adverse reactions in cisgender men that take this drug. When they stop, they may continue to experience sexual, neurological, physical, and mental side effects of the drug.
Specific symptoms can include erectile dysfunction, chronic fatigue, breast enlargement, and dry, thinning skin.
It’s not clear how you could prevent PFS since not everyone experiences it. It’s important to discuss any side effects or adverse feelings you experience with your doctor to determine if the drug is right for you.
There are few effective treatments for these side effects.
Medically Reviewed by:
Dr. Paul Bossung, Pharm. D. is a Missouri Board of Pharmacy certified pharmacist. He practices at Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Festus, MO in the inpatient pharmacy. Paul attended St. Louis College of Pharmacy (STLCOP) and graduated in 2018. He worked at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon for six years as a student pharmacist prior to graduating.OVERVIEWDOSAGESIDE EFFECTSINTERACTIONSHALF-LIFE
Generic Name: finasteride
Brands: Proscar, Propecia, Propecia Pro-Pak
Class: 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors
Availability: prescription required
Molecular Formula: C23H36N2O2
Substance UNII: 57GNO57U7G
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor sold under the brand names Proscar and Propecia.
What is Finasteride Used For?
It is used for the treatment of enlarged benign prostate hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) when offered under the brand name Proscar. For benign prostate hyperplasia, the goal is to reduce symptoms associated with the condition, such as difficulty urinating. It takes six or more months to see improvement.
Propecia is for the treatment of male pattern hair loss.
How Does Finasteride Work?
It works by decreasing the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. DHT can trigger the enlargement of the prostate and even contribute to hair loss. Reduction of this hormone can therefore prevent prostate enlargement as well as decrease hair loss.
How Long Does it Take for Finasteride to Work?
How long it takes to work depends on the form of the drug taken. For hair growth, it can take three to four months before the medication begins to affect. It will be six to nine months before there is significant hair regrowth.
For benign prostate hyperplasia, it takes six or more months to see improvement in relevant symptoms.
Do Not Use Finasteride If:
There are several situations where this medication may not be the right choice for you. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, the following should not use finasteride:
- Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Cisgender men who have had breast cancer
- Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts
- Anyone with liver problems
- Those with high-grade prostate cancer
- People with a known allergy to 5-alpha reductase inhibitors
Please note that this list may not be complete, and there may be other situations where finasteride use is not advisable.