A review of hormonal therapy for female pattern (androgenic) alopecia

Dermatol Online J. 2008 Mar 15;14(3):1.


Female pattern hair loss (female androgenetic alopecia) is a common, but puzzling, condition in women. Approximately 10 percent of pre-menopausal women show evidence of androgenetic alopecia. Age increases the incidence and 50-75 percent of women 65 years or older suffer from this condition. Only 2 percent topical mindoxidil is approved for treating female androgenetic alopecia. Reviews suggest that anti-hormonal therapy (e.g. cyproterone acetate, spironolactone) is helpful in treating female pattern alopecia in some women who have normal hormone levels. The use of hormonal therapies is most extensively studied in post-menopausal women. Several studies have suggested that cyproterone acetate with or without ethinyl estradiol and spironolactone can ameliorate female androgenetic alopecia in women with normal hormone levels, but larger controlled studies need to be done. Flutamide was found to be more effective than spironolactone or cyproterone in one study. Testosterone conversion inhibitors have been tried in post-menopausual women with normal hormone levels to treat alopecia. No study has shown that 1 mg of finasteride effectively treats female androgenetic alopecia but doses of 2.5 and 5 mg finasteride have helped some women in a few open studies. One case report notes the utility of dutasteride after finasteride failed. The role and place of anti-androgentic agents in female androgenetic alopecia in both pre and post-menopausal women remains to be fully defined. The need for effective agents is highlighted by the paucity of effective treatments and the substantial psychosocial impact of alopecia on women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Alopecia / physiopathology
  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Androgens / physiology
  • Cyproterone Acetate / therapeutic use
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Finasteride / therapeutic use
  • Flutamide / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use
  • Spironolactone / therapeutic use
  • Testosterone / metabolism


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgens
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Spironolactone
  • Testosterone
  • Cyproterone Acetate
  • Finasteride
  • Minoxidil
  • Flutamide