Finasteride side effects you need to know about

Finasteride is the active compound of Propecia or Proscar, the drug used for alopecia or hair loss, and prostate health. If you want to look at the main side effects of this drug, keep reading.

As men grow older, their bodies start to age and wear out due to many factors: Hormonal changes. Quick rejuvenation of the skin, hair, and other tissues slows down as a result of slower cell turnover rates. Organs start to wear out and become damaged or dysfunctional. Therefore, it is only natural that most men want to minimize this process as much as possible by keeping their health optimal as well as by retaining as much of the youthful appearance they can for as long as they can.

There are many ways that men go about this. Healthy lifestyle practices go a long way in supporting the body as it continues in its aging process: healthy diet, adequate rest, exercise, a proper management of stress, and remaining connected through some type of stimulating mental or spiritual practice. But also, there are products, procedures, and other tools that can ease aging symptoms dramatically.

One such tool that this article will discuss today is a product called finasteride; and, although this article will explore other ways in which men can obtain the results they would see if using a finasteride so that they can have a thorough understanding of their options, the discussion will mostly be about the pros and cons of finasteride itself.

Why do men finasteride in the first place?

There are two reasons why men would want to take finasteride or Propecia. These two problems, if not remedied, can potentially wreak havoc on a man’s confidence and his health. These conditions are baldness and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Both of these are common body glitches that can take place as it ages and are more prevalent than one might think as revealed in the statistics below:

Baldness, known generally as alopecia but in men is known as male pattern baldness, surprisingly affects men of all ages; however, the chance of developing the condition grows higher the older a man gets. Percentages taken from the American Statistical Association reveals that 25 percent of men as early as 21 can, and do, start showing balding signs. By age 35, this percentage creeps up to approximately two-thirds of the male population. By age 50, 85 percent of men show significant hair loss.

BPH generally affects many men after 30 years of age. Statistics reveal that in a man’s 30’s, he has a 10 percent chance of developing the condition. After 40 years of age, the chance goes up to 20 percent. In a man’s 60’s, the condition has a 50 percent chance of developing. After 85 years of age, the likelihood of developing BPH shoots up to a whopping 90 percent chance.

Finasteride is a great solution in helping to lower these statistics and help men have a smoother, more enjoyable aging process. Now you may be wondering what finasteride actually is.

Finasteride is a well studied, FDA approved, 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor drug that blocks the hormone responsible for baldness and BPH. It comes in tablet form and is taken once a day.

Finasteride for hair loss

The reason why finasteride works so well for hair loss is that it effectively blocks testosterone from converting into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the scalp. It does this by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. DHT is what causes hair to fall out so if it is not made by the body, it cannot cause hair loss.

83 percent of men who take finasteride experience success in halting their hair loss and 66 percent of men even experience regrowth!

However, even though it works well for this issue, the results are not immediate in most cases. You may start seeing a noticeable difference after a few weeks but optimal results usually occur around six months.

Finasteride for hair loss is taken at 1 milligram per day and the prescription names are Aindeem and Propecia.  

propecia finasteride side effects

Finasteride for prostate health

Finasteride works well for both treating BPH and maintaining a healthy prostate. This is again because the medication blocks DHT from forming. So DHT not only causes hair loss but also causes the prostate to enlarge. Therefore, in reducing the amount of DHT with the use of finasteride, the prostate shrinks and symptoms dissolve.

The amount of time it takes to see improvements are the same as with finasteride for hair loss. You may start to see an improvement within a few weeks but the 6-month mark is when you will most likely see the best results.

Finasteride for shrinking the prostate and maintaining prostate health is taken at a 5-milligram strength and the prescription name is Proscar.   

Understanding the risks and side effects of finasteride

Although only one percent out of every 10 men who took finasteride exhibit the common side effects, there have been some negative experiences in a small percentage of men that must be made aware.

Finasteride works by blocking normal hormone conversion and this can lead to side effects

Finasteride or Propecia blocks 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that helps testosterone convert to DHT. Testosterone is the essential hormone needed for healthy levels of masculine expression in the body. But the problem, which has already been highlighted previously, is that when there is too much testosterone in the body, which then usually means there is too much DHT, it results in hair loss and prostate enlargement.

Therefore, in some men, the reduction of 5-alpha-reductase has had negative consequences, producing unpleasant side effects.

Other than the side effects discussed below, these can also potentially manifest:

Pain the testicles, depression, breast tenderness, breast enlargement, or lumps in the breast.

There is also a rare chance of developing cancer. One study was done to determine whether or not finasteride can give one prostate cancer. The results revealed that while 3.5 percent of the men studied did develop high-grade prostate cancer, most of the men experienced a reduction in their chances of getting the disease. Also, very rare cases of breast cancer were reported.

Allergic reactions are also possible: rash, dizziness, weakness, trouble breathing, and swelling of throat, tongue, or face.

Finasteride can decrease libido

Finasteride or Propecia can potentially decrease sexual libido because the levels of DHT and testosterone are lowered. Healthy levels of testosterone and DHT are what give men a healthy appetite for sex.

Erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of finasteride

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is another common symptom that some men experience. This happens, again, because of the lowered DHT and testosterone which is needed in order to produce a strong erection.

A decrease in the sperm count

If you have compromised levels of testosterone, then your sperm levels most likely will not be at high enough levels. Testosterone is needed to produce adequate levels of sperm; therefore, some men experience this side effect. But most likely, this isn’t a big issue unless you and your partner are trying to conceive.

Here is a note to consider if a man is worried about any of these sexual symptoms: Out of 73 studies done on finasteride effects on men, each of these studies having many men within them to make up a large number of men in total that were studied, only two to three percent of all the men in the studies showed these symptoms.

Are the finasteride side effects permanent?

Because reports have been made about the side effects of finasteride being permanent, there is much concern about whether or not finasteride is the best choice for treating BPH and hair loss. Studies indicate that some men do experience lasting sexual dysfunction but then many other men do not.

Finasteride or Propecia side effects can last after you stop taking the medication

A study done on 54 adult males at the George Washington University demonstrates that some men do indeed have persistent and even permanent sexual dysfunction after discontinuing the drug. The results found that 96 percent of the men who were reassessed still had symptoms.

The doctor who did this study stated that the sexual dysfunction side effects that developed in these men during their time on the drug still continued for months and even years for some.

Some men found finasteride side effects reversible after continuing to take the medication

This study done on a Finasteride Male Pattern Hair Loss Study Group revealed that the men who were exhibiting negative symptoms due to finasteride stopped experiencing them completely after discontinuing the drug, or after remaining on them.

So which claim has more credence? More studies are needed to conclude whether or not finasteride creates permanent sexual damage for many men. But one thing is known for sure from the findings: whenever there are study results that indicate the possibility of a health concern, even if it the results are not thoroughly researched with multiple studies, caution should be used before deciding to take a drug.  

There are alternatives to finasteride for hair growth and prostate health

Although finasteride seems to be a strongly effective way to stop hair loss, regrow hair,  and regain prostate health, there are other options you can utilize that might work effectively.

Minoxidil for hair growth

Minoxidil is a drug that can be used topically in cream form that will help to stimulate hair growth. The brand name is called Rogaine. There are generic brands you can use and you don’t have to have a prescription.

Although using minoxidil in conjunction with finasteride results in the best prevention of hair loss and optimal hair regrowth, this option alone is still a good alternative for men who do not want to take finasteride.

Although skin irritation or dryness of the scalp occurs in some people, it is generally known as a safe way to regrow hair.

The 5 percent solution results in better hair regrowth with a 65 percent success rate versus the 2 percent solution which produces a 30 percent success rate.

All natural supplements for men’s hair growth

Supplements have been growing in popularity as an option for hair growth. Not only does the B vitamin biotin help, but many herbs do as well. Horsetail strengthens the hair follicles. Saw palmetto and stinging nettle both hinder hormones that create hair loss. Ginkgo biloba, aloe vera, and burdock root all stimulate blood flow to the scalp helping to have healthier and stronger hair.

Those who suffer from BPH can also try alpha blockers or surgery

Alpha blockers are a type of medication that are used to treat difficulties in urination due to BPH. The common types of alpha blockers are:

  • alfuzosin (Uroxatral)
  • tamsulosin (Flomax)
  • silodosin (Rapaflo)
  • terazosin (Hytrin)
  • doxazosin (Cardura)

BPH causes increasing difficulty in being able to pass urine due to the enlarging prostate pressing on the bladder. Therefore, alpha blockers help relieve bladder obstruction by relaxing the muscle fibers of the prostate as well as the bladder neck muscles so that the ease in urination can return and the patient can find relief.

Also, surgery is another option. There are two types of surgery. The first type is a better option for many because it doesn’t require open surgery or an incision. This type is called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). The doctor removes prostate tissue by inserting a resectoscope into the penis that then travels through the urethra tube. This gives the doctor access to the prostate in order to remove the extra prostate tissue, thus relieving the bladder obstruction.

The other type of surgery is the transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP). This type of procedure requires the doctor to make an incision in the bladder and prostate in order to widen the urethra. 

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Pelvic floor exercises and other healthy lifestyle choices for prostate health

The pelvic floor exercise is easily done by utilizing muscle strengthening kegel exercises. You can find your pelvic floor by stopping urination in mid-flow, which then enables you to feel the muscle that contracts. This is the muscle you want to strengthen. Simply do a set of these for three to five minutes with an empty bladder every day or as much as you can.

As we age, our muscles tend to grow weaker. Therefore, aerobic exercise is another wise choice in treating BPH or reduce your chances of developing the condition or its progression.

Yet another great option that helps to stop the growth of the prostate is by switching to a plant-based diet. Research has revealed through a study done on a group of men that even in just two weeks on a plant-based diet, prostate growth was reduced. After these two weeks on the plant-based diet, blood was taken from the men and then placed on a petri dish that had growing prostate cells. The cells discontinued their growth afterward.

A plant-based diet eliminates meat and refined grains and includes lots of different kinds of vegetables, legumes, seeds (especially flax seeds), and nuts.

If you do choose natural alternatives, it is wise to note that not just one option will likely treat the condition. Using all of these options together will give you a better chance of attaining the positive results you are seeking.

Choosing your best option for hair loss and prostate health

There are a plethora of great ways to treat both hair loss and prostate enlargement. The bottom line is that you know your body and what it can tolerate. You also know what options resonate more with your values and preferences.

Additionally, it is wise to do your own research and then speak to your doctor about the best option for you. In gaining valuable knowledge and wise advice combined with the natural guidance of your own intuition, you can easily choose the best choice that will make a healthier and happier you.

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