Finasteride is an inhibitor of steroid 5-alpha-reductase and is thus used as a drug for benign prostate enlargement and hormonally induced hair loss. The active ingredient is commercially available under various names such as Propecia or Proscar.
In general, finasteride is considered to be well tolerated. However, it can lead to side effects such as sexual dysfunction or other problems. For this reason, it is advisable to use this drug only in case of limiting and psychologically stressful problems or if you accept the side effects that may occur.
Effects of Finasteride
It is very common for the prostate of older men to be benignly enlarged. The prostate is located in a ring around the urethra, which is why enlargement can lead to discomfort when urinating, frequent urges to urinate at night, problems with complete emptying, and even backflow damage with urinary tract diseases and kidney dysfunction.
The hormone testosterone is mainly responsible for the formation of male sexual characteristics and is present throughout the human body. When testosterone is converted by a specific enzyme, 5-alpha reduction, dihydrotestosterone is formed. Dihydrotestosterone binds specifically to certain docking sites, transmitting a certain signal to the body, which is responsible for causing tissue proliferation in the prostate or hair loss in sensitive men.
The inhibitor finasteride inhibits this enzyme. This reduces the concentration of dihydrotestosterone in the body. As a result, the hormonally induced hair loss is stopped and the prostate gland shrinks back to its original size.
When finasteride has been taken, the effect often occurs after about two hours. Approximately 80% of the active ingredient of the drug is absorbed from the intestine into the blood. The active ingredient is broken down by the liver and is then excreted from the body in the urine or stool.
Several international studies prove the effect of finasteride. In 80 to 90% of users, it was found that hormonally induced hair loss was stopped. In 65& of the users, even a thickening of the hair was observed, as the previously shrunken hair became thicker. Further studies show that the effect of Finasteride is not only in users well over 60, but also in the age group of 41 to 61 years a good effect can be achieved.
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The most common dosage form in which finasteride is administered is the film-coated tablet. Here, the active ingredient is located in the core of the tablet and is surrounded by a protective coating so that the active ingredient is not absorbed through the skin when touched.
Very important to note when taking finasteride is that the dosage when taking due to an enlarged prostate is different than in hormonally induced hair loss. Namely, in the case of an enlarged prostate, the dosage is 5 milligrams a day. While the dosage for hormonal hair loss is 1 milligram per day. If the user has liver dysfunction, the dose of finasteride is reduced accordingly.
Finasteride can be taken with sufficient water, preferably a large glass, regardless of the meal.
If the reason for taking it is an enlarged prostate, finasteride is often taken in combination with a so-called alpha-1-adrenocepor blocker, such as tamsulosin. Due to the two different mechanisms of action, symptoms and cause can be combated very effectively at the same time.
Side effects of Finasteride
It is to be distinguished with the side effects that the frequency of the occurrence of side effects can vary depending upon dosage. Thus, occasionally, i.e. in 0.1 to 1%, of those treated with 1 milligram per day and frequently, i.e. in 1 to 10%, of those treated with 5 milligrams per day, a reduced libido, i.e. a reduced desire and a potency disorder occur. These side effects do not always disappear completely after cessation of therapy.
Testicular pain, infertility, and depressive moods were also noted not as frequently as the symptoms described above.
In the large number of studies conducted on the effect of finasteride, a dysfunction of the meibomian gland was found when finasteride was administered. The consequence of this is that the eye can no longer produce an oil-like fluid itself, which serves to protect the tear film from drying out. Those affected complain of dry eyes and impaired vision.
Increased levels of the liver enzyme y-GT have been observed in patients who have taken finasteride over a longer period of time.
Furthermore, in very rare cases, enlargement of the breast may occur and, in even rarer cases, lumps may form in the breast or fluid may be discharged from the mammary glands.
However, there are not only side effects for men taking the drug. In unborn babies, finasteride can cause deformities of the external sex characteristics, so pregnant women and women who may become pregnant should not come into contact with the drug.
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