Male Pattern Baldness Treatment Medicine

Male pattern baldness is a common (and unavoidable) sign of aging for many men. But advances in hair loss medicine now give men two good options for hair restoration: minoxidil (Rogaine®) and finasteride (Propecia®). These are the only two drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating hair loss. Other drugs that claim to treat male pattern baldness should be treated with skepticism.

Hair Loss Medicine: Minoxidil (Rogaine®)

Rogaine® is a non-prescription liquid or foam hair loss medicine available in either a 2 or 5 percent solution, which is applied directly to the scalp twice daily. Though researchers do not fully understand how it works, they believe that Rogaine® works by repairing shrunken hair follicles on the scalp. Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine®, was originally developed as a blood pressure medication, but clinical testing has shown minoxidil to be an effective medicine for baldness.

When used to treat male pattern baldness, Rogaine®‘s results are not perfect. New hair with Rogaine® use will often be thinner or shorter than the original hair. It usually takes as long as 12 weeks for hair restoration results with Rogaine® (typically, if no results are observed within six months, doctors will recommend you discontinue use).

Once you stop taking minoxidil, any hair you grew will likely fall out. The main side effect of Rogaine® is mild irritation of the scalp.

Hair Loss Medicine: Finasteride (Propecia®)

Propecia® is a prescription pill taken daily to slow or halt male pattern baldness and re-grow hair. Its active ingredient, finasteride, stops the body from converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, the hormone that shrinks hair follicles and causes baldness.

Clinical testing has shown Propecia® to be an effective medicine for baldness. Typically Propecia® is taken for a full 12 months, and results start around the sixth month of treatment.

As with Rogaine®, any benefits gained from Propecia® will be lost once you stop taking it, and re-grown hair will likely fall out.

Some men taking Propecia® experience diminished sex drive and sexual function.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Hair loss. Retrieved March 7, 2011, from

Merck Sharp