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What Is Finasteride

what is finasteride

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride (Proscar, Propecia) is an inexpensive drug used for the treatment of hair loss and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Proscar (finasteride 5 mg) is used to treat BPH, and Propecia (finasteride 1 mg) is used for hair loss. Generic finasteride is covered by most Medicare and insurance plans for BPH, but not for hair loss, so pharmacy coupons may be lower. The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of finasteride is around $8.08, 90% off the average retail price of $85.67. Compare 5-alpha reductase inhibitors.

Finasteride is used to treat men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and male pattern hair loss, also called androgenetic alopecia. BPH is caused by an enlarged prostate. Men with BPH usually have difficulty urinating, a decreased flow of urination, hesitation at the beginning of urination, and a need to get up at night to urinate. Finasteride will make these symptoms less severe and reduce the chance that prostate surgery will be needed. It may be used alone or in combination with other medicines such as an alpha-blocker (doxazosin, Cardura®) to treat BPH. For men with hair loss, finasteride will increase the number of scalp hairs but will not increase the amount of body hair.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Finasteride (Proscar) is used alone or in combination with another medication (doxazosin [Cardura]) to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH, enlargement of the prostate gland). Finasteride is used to treat symptoms of BPH such as frequent and difficult urination and may reduce the chance of acute urinary retention (sudden inability to urinate). It also may decrease the chance that prostate surgery will be needed. Finasteride (Propecia) is also used to treat male pattern hair loss (gradual thinning of the hair on the scalp, leading to a receding hairline or balding on the top of the head in men.) Finasteride (Propecia) has not been shown to treat thinning hair at the temples and is not used to treat hair loss in women or children. Finasteride is in a class of medications called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. Finasteride treats BPH by blocking the body's production of a male hormone that causes the prostate to enlarge. Finasteride treats male pattern hair loss by blocking the body's production of a male hormone in the scalp that stops hair growth.

How should this medicine be used?

Finasteride comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Take finasteride at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take finasteride exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

If you are taking finasteride to treat BPH, you should know that finasteride may control your condition, but will not cure it. It may take at least 6 months before your symptoms improve. Continue to take finasteride even if you feel well. Do not stop taking finasteride without talking to your doctor.

If you are taking finasteride to treat male pattern hair loss, it may take at least 3 months before you see any improvement because hair loss and growth happen slowly over time. However, you should expect to see improvement during the first 12 months of your treatment. If you have taken finasteride for 12 months and have not noticed any improvement, further treatment probably will not help. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue your treatment.

What special precautions should I follow?

tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to finasteride, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in finasteride tablets. Ask your pharmacist or check the patient information for a list of the ingredients. tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.

tell your doctor if you have or have ever had liver disease or prostate cancer. you should know that finasteride is only for use in men. Women, especially those who are or may become pregnant should not touch broken or crushed finasteride tablets. Touching broken or crushed finasteride tablets may harm the fetus. If a woman who is pregnant or who could become pregnant touches broken or crushed finasteride tablets, she should wash the area with soap and water immediately and call her doctor.

What side effects can this medication cause?

  • inability to have or maintain an erection
  • decreased sexual desire
  • problems with ejaculation (including decreased volume of ejaculate)
  • pain in the testicles
  • depression

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body's response to finasteride.

Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking finasteride. Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

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