I’m a female who suffers from hair loss. I recently found out I’m pregnant, and I’m concerned how the changes in my body will affect my thinning hair. I know finasteride (Propecia) is one of the most effective hair loss medications prescribed to men, so I’m wondering if I can take it during my pregnancy?
The answer to this question is a resounding NO. In fact, finasteride is contraindicated (not allowed) in all women of childbearing age. Not because it wouldn’t necessarily be effective or cause side effects, but because it can cause severe birth defects in a fetus, and women who could become pregnant (even without prior planning) cannot risk it.
Finasteride inhibits the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by blocking a specific enzyme called type II 5-alpha-reductase. In adult males, DHT causes the hair loss seen in androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness), and lowering these levels allows for a cessation and partial reversal of hair thinning. Unfortunately, DHT plays a very different role in the developing fetus. In these individuals – especially male fetuses – DHT is required for forming normal sexual organs. In fact, a complete lack of DHT can cause a male fetus to be born without external sexual organs. This is why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has labeled finasteride a category X drug; meaning it is completely unsafe to use in pregnancy.
Any pregnant female hair loss sufferer needs to discuss the issue thoroughly with her OB/GYN doctor and a hair loss specialist. These doctors will be able to recommend safe alternatives and confirm that finasteride must be avoided in pregnancy.
Blake Bloxham – formerly “Future_HT_Doc”
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