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Side Effects Of Finasteride In Females

Side Effects Of Finasteride In Females


I'm often asked about the range of side effects that are possible for women who use finasteride. Side effects of finasteride in women include, but are not limited to: harm to a fetus (finasteride can not be used in pregnancy), fatigue, weight gain, depression, anxiety, decreased libido, sexual dysfunction, hair shedding, breast tenderness, breast enlargement.  Other side effects can occur but are less common.

Finasteride, brand name Propecia, is a medication which is often used to prevent balding, particularly the variety known as male-pattern baldness. This loss of hair is linked with the conversion of testosterone to another chemical, known as DHT. Finasteride prevents this conversion, thus blocking the signal that causes the loss of hair. Although finasteride is generally designed for adult male use, it can be used by some women, though with the risk of several side effects.

Perhaps the most serious side effect that occurs with finasteride use is serious birth defects that can occur in pregnant women. Specifically, finasteride results in defects in the sex organs of male fetuses. Because of the severity of this side effect, finasteride is not recommended for pregnant women or those who could become pregnant in the future, notes the Propecia website.

The risk of this side effect is so great that premenopausal women are advised to not handle or come into contact with broken tablets of finasteride because it is not known for how long the medication stays in the body. According to the Propecia website, studies have demonstrated the safety of finasteride in women going through menopause; in these cases, there is no risk of a birth defect because of the permanent infertility of the patient. As a result, only women who have experienced menopause should take finasteride.

There are a number of side effects which are due to the effects that finasteride has on the hormonal balance in the body. These include an increase in breast size and breast tenderness, as well as decreased libido, RxList notes. This is because finasteride prevents the way that the body responds to and reacts with different hormones. One of the effects that minor alterations in testosterone can cause is an increase in estrogen production, which can cause these hormonal side effects.

Patients on finasteride have reported hypersensitivity reactions, more commonly known as allergies, as a result of using this medication, states. In general, a mild allergy to finasteride will result in a rash which may be itchy or cause hives. More serious allergic reactions cause swelling of parts of the body, including the face, lips, tongue and fingers.

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

This means that the potential side effects for women are not sufficiently known either. Women are generally advised not to use the medication while pregnant or to get pregnant while using it, due to the risk posed to the developing fetus due to finasteride’s hormonal effects. But with so much unknown, how safe are women taking it?

There have been a few studies focused on using Propecia for reversing hair loss in women, with different results.

The study involved 137 postmenopausal women who received 1 mg Propecia daily.  More recent case studies have reached the conclusion that finasteride could be effective for female pattern hair loss if the dose was increased to between 2.5 mg and 5 mg daily.

This study concluded that while the treatment did show results, it was probably not the most efficient dosage. Patients showed increased hair density and hair loss stopped, but hair growth did not return. So while researchers have not found the optimal dosage, Propecia’s role in female pattern hair loss is still controversial.

The main concern is that Propecia can affect male fetuses, including signs of feminization and various birth defects. The drug is so potent that pregnant women are advised to not even touch crushed or broken tablets because Propecia can be absorbed through the skin.

The most common side effects in men who take finasteride range from a decreased sex drive and a reduction in the amount of semen to trouble getting or maintaining an erection.

Contact your doctor right away if you notice breast tenderness/enlargement, or any chest-area lumps, pain, or nipple discharge, which may be signs of breast cancer.

Let your doctor know if you become depressed, or if you continue to have a decreased sex drive or difficulty achieving an erection, even after stopping the medicine.

Other side effects that must be reported include:

  • Testicular pain
  • Male infertility/and or a poor quality of semen
  • Rash, itching, hives
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and face

There may be other side effects as well. Tell your doctor if any symptoms are bothering you and/or getting worse. You can also report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Minoxidil may cause an allergic reaction that can lead to itching, hives, swelling, and/or difficulty breathing.

Other possible side effects include chest pain, dizziness or fainting, irregular heartbeat, severe itching, burning, or redness of scalp, sudden and unexpected weight gain, and swelling of the face, hands, or feet .

Less serious side effects may include a change in hair color or texture, dry, flaking, or red skin, and increased hair loss.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or fluid retention, or have open wounds or irritation on your scalp, talk to your doctor before using minoxidil .

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