Spironolactone Vs Finasteride: Which One Is Better For Female Hair Loss?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated

Unravelling the intricacies of hair loss solutions can feel like stepping into a maze. 

Regarding female hair loss, two prominent contenders, Spironolactone and Finasteride, often make their way into the conversation. 

Each with its own unique attributes and potential benefits. How do these treatment options stack up against each other?

In this comprehensive comparison of Spironolactone vs Finasteride, we'll dive deep into their mechanisms, efficacy, side effects, and suitability for women grappling with hair loss. 

With this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to discuss potential treatment plans with your healthcare provider. 

As the journey towards hair recovery is as unique as each strand on your head, we aim to provide the insights you need to navigate the winding roads of hair loss treatments. 

Let the exploration of Spironolactone vs Finasteride begin!

Summary

Spironolactone and finasteride are viable treatment options for hair loss. 

They function through different mechanisms and have distinct effectiveness and side effect profiles, making personalised treatment crucial. 

While spironolactone is commonly used in women, men often favour finasteride due to its potential risks in pregnant women.

The decision to use spironolactone, finasteride, or another treatment should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider, considering your specific type of hair loss, overall health, and tolerance to potential side effects. 

Informed decisions pave the way for a successful journey in managing hair loss.

What is androgenetic alopecia?

spironolactone vs finasteride for female hair loss

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as pattern hair loss, is a common type of hair loss that affects both men and women. It's characterised by a distinct pattern of hair thinning, primarily caused by a genetic predisposition and the impact of androgens (hormones like testosterone and its byproduct, DHT) on hair follicles.

This condition often manifests differently between genders. In men, it generally begins with a receding hairline and hair loss at the crown of the head.

For women, it typically presents as a diffuse thinning of hair across the entire scalp, maintaining the frontal hairline.

The mechanism of androgenetic alopecia is deeply rooted in genetics and hormones. Hair follicles affected by this condition are genetically sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a byproduct of testosterone. 

This sensitivity leads to miniaturisation, where hair follicles shrink over time, producing thinner, shorter, and less pigmented hair until they eventually stop producing hair altogether. 

Although the condition is more prevalent and often more severe in men, women can also experience it, especially post-menopause, when estrogen levels drop and fail to counterbalance the effects of DHT. 

Understanding androgenetic alopecia is the first step towards seeking appropriate and effective treatment.

What is spironolactone?

spironolactone vs finasteride for female hair loss

 

Spironolactone is primarily used as a diuretic, or "water pill," to treat high blood pressure and fluid retention. However, it also has anti-androgen effects, meaning it can block the action of male sex hormones, which makes it helpful in treating a range of conditions, including hair loss in women.

In more detail, spironolactone belongs to a class of drugs known as potassium-sparing diuretics. 

It works by helping the kidneys eliminate sodium and water from the body while minimising potassium loss. 

Due to its anti-androgen properties, it can also be used off-label for treating conditions like hirsutism (unwanted hair growth), acne, and female pattern hair loss, all of which can be exacerbated by excess androgen hormones. 

Spironolactone can slow hair thinning and promote hair growth in women suffering from androgenetic alopecia by blocking androgen receptors and decreasing androgen production. 

However, it's typically not recommended for men due to its hormonal effects.

How does spironolactone work?

Spironolactone works by blocking the action of androgen hormones in the body. It does this by binding to androgen receptors and preventing these hormones from attaching, reducing their overall effects. In the context of hair loss, this anti-androgen action helps slow the process of hair thinning and can promote hair growth.

How effective is spironolactone?

Spironolactone's effectiveness can vary depending on the condition it's used to treat. In the context of female pattern hair loss, it has shown promising results in slowing down hair thinning and promoting growth. 

However, the evidence must be mixed, and more high-quality, large-scale studies are required to establish its efficacy definitively. 

Individual responses can vary with any medication, and discussing treatment options with a healthcare provider is essential.

What is finasteride?

spironolactone vs finasteride for female hair loss

Finasteride is a prescription medication primarily used to treat male pattern baldness and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It works by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that can contribute to hair loss and prostate growth.

Further, finasteride's mechanism of action makes it a valuable tool in managing conditions sensitive to DHT. In the case of hair loss, DHT can shrink hair follicles, leading to thinner, shorter hairs and, eventually, hair loss. 

Finasteride can slow down or even reverse this process in some individuals by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to DHT. 

While it's typically prescribed for men due to its potential side effects in women, it has been used off-label in post-menopausal women or those not planning to conceive. 

However, women of childbearing age should not use finasteride due to the risk of birth defects.

How does finasteride work?

Finasteride works by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which is responsible for converting testosterone into its more potent form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). By reducing DHT levels, finasteride can help slow down or even reverse the process of hair miniaturisation and hair loss caused by androgenetic alopecia.

How effective is finasteride?

Finasteride is generally considered effective in treating male pattern hair loss, with many clinical trials showing it can slow the progression of hair loss and even improve hair growth in some men. However, its effectiveness in women must be clarified, with more mixed results reported and fewer high-quality studies available. 

Individual responses can vary with any medication, so discussing treatment options and potential side effects with a healthcare provider is crucial.

What are the side effects of spironolactone and finasteride?

spironolactone vs finasteride for female hair loss

While both Spironolactone and Finasteride have been celebrated for their role in combating hair loss, it's equally crucial to understand their potential side effects.

Side effects of spironolactone:

  • Increased urination, potentially leading to dehydration if fluid intake isn't properly managed.
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual irregularities (more severe but less common)
  • Breast tenderness (more severe but less common)
  • Postural hypotension: a drop in blood pressure upon standing (more severe but less common)
  • Possible impact on potassium levels, with a risk of hyperkalemia, which is characterised by high potassium levels in the blood (regular monitoring is necessary)

Side effects of finasteride:

  • Decreased libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Ejaculation disorder
  • Mood changes, including instances of depression
  • Risk of a specific type of birth defect, meaning women who are pregnant, or might become pregnant, should not handle finasteride.

An effective alternative to spironolactone and finasteride

spironolactone vs finasteride for female hair loss

The Bio-Pilixin® Serum by Scandinavian Biolabs is a specially formulated serum designed to nourish hair follicles and enhance the appearance of hair.

Uniquely designed with multiple plant growth factors cultivated through advanced stem cell technology, this serum nourishes hair follicles and promotes healthy hair growth at the root.

This serum has undergone clinical testing, revealing noticeable changes in the look of hair in as little as 45 days.

Bio-Pilixin® Serum aims to nourish hair follicles and enhance the appearance of hair. In a clinical study, 93% of users reported they were satisfied with the changes they saw in their hair.

This plant-powered serum is safe for daily use and designed to give your hair the care and stimulation it needs to thrive.

Every ingredient in the serum is of the highest quality, carefully selected based on a thorough review of scientific literature. 

Capilia Longa, a nutrient-rich medium derived from Curcuma longa stem cells, showed in clinical studies a reduction in hair loss for some participants by up to 89–90% and an improvement in hair density by 52%.

Niacinamide provides the strength needed for sustained hair growth by improving blood flow and protecting hair follicles from premature death due to oxidative stress caused by pollution and UV rays.

This triad of powerhouse ingredients makes the Bio-Pilixin® Serum a game-changer in hair care.

Finally, we stand by the effectiveness of our Bio-Pilixin® Serum. If you are unsatisfied with the results, we offer a money-back guarantee after 150 days. 

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Spironolactone vs finasteride: What are the differences?

While both are used in the battle against hair loss, spironolactone and finasteride function differently and have unique advantages and side effects. These fundamental differences lie in their mechanisms of action, typical usage, effectiveness, and side effects.

Mechanism of action

Spironolactone operates as an anti-androgen, blocking androgen receptors and reducing androgen production, which can slow hair thinning and promote hair growth in women. 

In contrast, finasteride inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT, a hormone that can contribute to hair loss and prostate growth.

Typical usage

Spironolactone is primarily used as a diuretic for treating high blood pressure and fluid retention but also sees off-label use for conditions like female pattern hair loss and acne. 

On the other hand, finasteride is mainly used to treat male pattern hair loss and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Effectiveness

Spironolactone has shown promise in treating female pattern hair loss, although the evidence is mixed, and more large-scale studies are needed. 

Finasteride, however, is generally considered effective in treating male pattern hair loss, with fewer high-quality studies available on its effectiveness in women.

Spironolactone vs finasteride: Which one is right for you?

Spironolactone is often used in women with pattern hair loss, while finasteride is typically used in men due to the potential risks to pregnant women. 

Discussing these factors and your medical history with your healthcare provider is crucial to making an informed decision.

Whether spironolactone or finasteride is right for you depends on several factors, including your gender, overall health, the specific type of hair loss you're experiencing, and your personal tolerance to potential side effects.

Conclusion

To wrap up, spironolactone and finasteride are viable treatment options for hair loss. 

They function through different mechanisms and have distinct effectiveness and side effect profiles, making personalised treatment crucial. 

While spironolactone is commonly used in women, men often favour finasteride due to its potential risks in pregnant women.

The decision to use spironolactone, finasteride, or another treatment should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider, considering your specific type of hair loss, overall health, and tolerance to potential side effects. 

Informed decisions pave the way for a successful journey in managing hair loss.

FAQs

Does spironolactone cause hair loss in women? 

No, spironolactone does not cause hair loss in women. In fact, it's often used off-label to treat female pattern hair loss due to its anti-androgen properties.

Can men use spironolactone for hair loss? 

While spironolactone is effective in treating hair loss in women, it's typically not recommended for men due to its potential to cause feminising side effects, such as breast enlargement.

Is finasteride safe for women to use for hair loss? 

Finasteride is generally not recommended for women, especially those of childbearing age, due to the risk of causing birth defects. However, in some cases, it may be used off-label in post-menopausal women or those not planning to conceive.

How long does Finasteride or Spironolactone take to show hair loss results? 

Finasteride and spironolactone typically require several months (usually around 3 to 6 months) to show noticeable results for hair loss. The timeline can vary from person to person based on factors like the severity of hair loss and an individual's response to medication.

 References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/ 
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/357737989_Development_and_Evaluation_of_Herbal_Hair_Serum_A_traditional_way_to_Improve_Hair_Quality 

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Dr Amy Revene M.B.B.S. graduated from the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. She is currently working as a General Physician at New Hope Medical Center. Amy has a passion for research and offers her expertise and opinions to help people in their quest to lead healthy, happy lives.