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Does Finasteride Work

does finasteride work

Proscar (finasteride)

Proscar tablets contain the active ingredient finasteride, which is a type of medicine known as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. Finasteride is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine. Finasteride works by preventing the action of a chemical in the body called 5-alpha reductase.

What is it used for?

Enlarged prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia). Finasteride is used to relieve the symptoms of BPH and to reduce the risk of developing a complete inability to pass urine (acute urinary retention) that may require surgery.

How does it work?

Proscar tablets contain the active ingredient finasteride, which is a type of medicine known as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. Finasteride is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine. Finasteride works by preventing the action of a chemical in the body called 5-alpha reductase.

5-alpha reductase is an enzyme that converts the male hormone testosterone into a more active form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). By blocking its action, finasteride prevents this activation of testosterone.

Enlargement of the prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia), which often occurs in men with advancing age, is dependent upon testosterone being converted to DHT within the prostate gland. In the absence of DHT the prostate shrinks. By decreasing the amount of DHT, finasteride helps shrink the prostate.

The prostate gland is found only in men and lies at the top of the tube connecting the bladder to the outside (urethra). Enlargement of the prostate causes it to press on the urethra and bladder and can cause urinary symptoms such as difficulty passing urine and increased need to urinate, particularly at night. By shrinking the prostate, finasteride relieves the pressure on the bladder and urethra. This allows urine to flow freely past the prostate and relieves the urinary symptoms associated with this condition.

How do I take it?

  • One tablet should be taken once a day, preferably at the same time each day. The tablet can be taken either with or without food.
  • If you forget to take a dose don’t worry, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as usual when it is due. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.
  • You may see an improvement in your symptoms soon after starting treatment with this medicine, but most men will need to take it for at least six months to see if it helps. Keep taking it until your doctor tells you to stop.

 Warning!

This medicine does not cause prostate cancer, but prostate cancer can be another cause of an enlarged prostate gland. For this reason, tests for prostate cancer should be carried out before you start treatment with this medicine and at regular intervals thereafter. One test that can be carried out is a digital rectal examination (DRE), to check if the prostate gland is enlarged. The other is to measure the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. An increase in the PSA levels may mean that the prostate gland is enlarged. This medicine can decrease the amount of PSA in the blood by about 50 per cent after six months treatment, even in men who have prostate cancer. Your doctor will take this into account when interpreting the results of any blood tests.

  • This medicine has been reported to reduce the quality of semen in healthy men. This means that there is a possibility that it may reduce your fertility and ability to father a child. If this is a concern to you, you should discuss fertility with your doctor before starting treatment.
  • While you are taking this medicine you should use a condom during sex if your sexual partner is pregnant or could become pregnant. This is because the active ingredient of this medicine passes into semen, and could harm the development of an unborn child.
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  • Men taking this medicine should not donate blood during treatment and for at least four weeks after stopping treatment with this medicine. This is because if a pregnant woman was given the blood the medicine could harm the development of a male baby.
  • Women who are pregnant or who could get pregnant must not handle crushed or broken tablets, as the medicine may be absorbed through the skin and cause abnormalities in a developing male baby. Whole tablets are coated to prevent contact with the active ingredient during normal handling, provided they are not broken or crushed.
  • There have been cases of breast cancer reported in men taking this medicine. It is therefore important to see your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts such as lumps, pain or nipple discharge.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

This medicine may pass into semen. For this reason, while you are taking this medicine you should use a barrier form of contraception such as a condom during sex if your partner is or may be pregnant, to avoid any possible risks to a developing male baby.

Side effects

Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.

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