Finasteride is an antiandrogen drug that is mainly used to block the actions of an enzyme called 5-alphareductase, and inhibit the production of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) within the scalp and prostate. By blocking the actions of these chemicals within the body, the level of testosterone in the blood will grow, leading to a decrease in the size of the prostrate.
A History of Finasteride
Patented in 1984 and approved for medical use in 1992, Finasteride was initially prescribed to men suffering from an enlarged prostate, and other conditions related to enlarged prostate including cancer. Male patients undergoing Finasteride treatment noticed a decrease in hair loss, and the drug was subsequently approved for use as a hair loss treatment for men.
What is Finasteride Used For?
Because Finasteride works to reduce the hormone DHT in the body, it can be used as part of a number of treatments including the following:
- To help treat an enlarged prostate
- To help decrease the possibility of needing prostate surgery
- To treat excessive or difficult urination in men
- To treat hair loss in men
After beginning treatment with Finasteride, it may take several months before you begin to see results or improvement in your condition. It’s also important to note that while it is highly effective at managing your symptoms and preventing new ones from occurring, Finasteride will not cure prostate disease.
It is important to note that the benefits of using Finasteride will only occur during continued use of the drug. If you stop taking Finasteride, you may once again experience an enlarged prostate and the symptoms that go along with it.
Risks and Side Effects of Using Finasteride
Finasteride is not without side effects. Some of the more common side effects include the following:
- Breast and testicle pain
- Problems with urination including a marked decrease in the ability to completely void the urinary bladder
- Sexual disfunction including erectile disfunction and reduced sexual desire which may continue beyond the course of treatment
- Problems ejaculating, including reduced volume of ejaculate
- Infertility in males
- Male breast cancer
- Rash, itching and hives
- Finasteride shedding
The list of side effects is not limited to the above. If you notice any other signs and symptoms after beginning treatment with Finasteride, notify your doctor or healthcare practitioner.
Warning – Finasteride and Pregnancy
While Finasteride can generally be safely prescribed to woman, if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, you are best advised to discontinue your use of Finasteride, as it has been linked to serious birth defects, and can also lead to miscarriage. The rate of birth defects is higher in that of male babies vs. female babies.
If someone in your household uses Finasteride during your pregnancy, you should avoid coming into direct contact with the tablets.
What Brands Names is Finasteride Sold Under?
Finasteride is sold under a number of different brand names. These include Propecia, Proscar, Fincover, Finalo, Finpecia, Finax, Avodart and more. There is also a generic version of Finasteride and various brands of topical finasteride.
How to Get a Finasteride Prescription
Finasteride is a drug that requires a prescription. It cannot be purchased over the counter. If you feel that using Finasteride would be beneficial for your health, you will need to see your doctor or healthcare practitioner who will assess your symptoms, and then if they feel that Finasteride would be a good treatment option, they will provide you with a prescription.
How to Take Finasteride
Finasteride is taken in tablet form or in a topical form, usually once per day. It does not cause any type of stomach issues, so you can take it with or without food. The time of day you take Finasteride doesn’t matter, but it is important to be consistent – in other words, take it at the same time every day. This will help you to experience the most benefit.
It’s important not to take more that your prescribed dose of Finasteride. If you miss a dose, take only the dose you missed – do not double up or take any extra pills.
You should inform your doctor or health care provider of any other medications, supplements or herbal products both OTC and by prescription to ensure that you are not at risk of experiencing drug reactions. As well, some supplements may lessen the effectiveness of Finasteride.
Who Should Not Take Finasteride
As noted, Finasteride should not be taken by women who are or plan to become pregnant.
It should also not be used by patients who have chronic liver or kidney problems, or advanced prostate cancer.
While most patients who take Finasteride suffer little or no side effects, there are still some precautions that must be taken.
As mentioned, women who are pregnant should be extra careful to not come in contact with Finasteride pills, especially if they are broken or crushed.
For men who take Finasteride, it’s important to ensure your doctor or healthcare team know if you plan to have PSA tests (tests that look for prostate cancer) as the use of Finasteride can have an impact on those test results.
Those taking Finasteride should not donate blood while taking this medication. Your doctor or healthcare provider can advise you of when it will be safe to donate again following completion of your treatment with Finasteride.
Disposal of Unused Finasteride
If you and your doctor decide that you should discontinue your use of Finasteride, proper disposal of your leftover medication is very important.
Do not flush Finasteride down the toilet, or dispose of in garbage that pets or children could have access to. The best way to dispose of your unused pills is to return them to your pharmacy.
Finasteride is a medication that is available to help manage the symptoms of prostate disease. If you suffer from enlarged prostate, urination problems or other symptoms related to prostate health, ask your doctor or healthcare practitioner if Finasteride treatment is right for you.