It is often a worry that medication will cause side effects. Some of these effects are minor and cause little to no problems, while others may possibly be worse than the state being treated. This can be true of any medicine, not just Finasteride. Some do report that they feel dizzy, get a headache or a runny nose when using it. In rare instances, there have been cases reporting decreased libido, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation disorder subsiding finasteride dosages. Is that true, then? Does finasteride come with side effects? The answer is yes; finasteride may be associated with some side effects but for a small percentage of people, with the vast majority it has demonstrated a satisfactory safety profile. At last, this medicinal entity has been through systematic regulatory testing in various countries to verify its safety. So, let’s have a closer look at the finasteride’s major myths to separate the fact from the fiction.
Finasteride was designed to treat prostate enlargement
Some people are wary about taking finasteride because of the myth that this medicine is intended for a different purpose. The truth is that finasteride is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. The 5-alpha-reductase is responsible for converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causing significant decreases in serum and tissue DHT concentrations, minimal to moderate increase in serum testosterone concentrations and substantial increases in prostatic testosterone concentrations.
As DHT is the principal component linked with the stimulation of prostatic growth, then its decrease will result in a reduction of prostatic volume. That is why it is prescribed to treat prostate enlargement; however, this is not the only unique use of finasteride. It was reported that baldness does not occur in men with genetic deficiency of 5-alpha-reductase and decreased DHT. Finasteride can attain these effects achieving more than 70% decrease in serum and scalp DHT, thus was approved in December 1997 for treating androgenic alopecia (AA).
The success of finasteride in managing alopecia is supported by numerous studies that concentrated on the different aspects of taking finasteride for hair loss. The effect of finasteride on DHT levels in serum and scalp, the different dosages of Finasteride to use for this indication and the optimum to accomplish satisfactory results were some of the topics studied among others.
After knowing that finasteride does work on hair loss, it is the time to know some clear some of the other facts, so we will start by a common one; finasteride and sexual side effects.
Does Finasteride affect the sexual drive?
There’s a common misconception that using finasteride will result in having sexual side effects, and that’s not inevitably true. Despite the fact that some people experienced side effects in the form of impotence, decreased libido, and ejaculatory dysfunction, yet that was only encountered with 2.1% to 3.8 % of the cases. The last statement was an outcome of an analysis made in a comprehensive review of a total of 73 articles focusing on the effects of medicinal agents on the sexual function.
The authors of other different numerous studies concluded that the effect of finasteride on sexual functioning is negligible for most men and should not affect the decision to prescribe or take finasteride. The same was published by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) that stressed on the point ‘’ Millions of patients have benefited and still benefit from the use of finasteride, with no side effects or minimal and reversible side effects.’’
Another good news is even with the small percentage that can be affected by the mentioned incidences, it was observed that these effects occurred early in the treatment and disappeared with the continuous use of the drug as shown by many reported pieces of literature
There are several websites offering exaggerated views about the side effects of finasteride, opposing the scientific evidences available. That has been illustrated with the earlier example and holds to be true for the next one as well, cancer.
Finasteride and cancer
There is no doubt that the chance of developing cancer while taking a hair loss treatment is terrifying. In fact, studies have found that long-term use of finasteride may actually reduce the prevalence of prostate cancer. In a seven- years study that included 18,882 men over 55 years, researchers discovered that patients who took finasteride for seven years were less likely to develop prostate cancer. Moreover, it was illustrated that in patients using finasteride, there is an increased probability of an early diagnosis of high-grade malignant disease due to the increased biopsy sensitivity imparted by the action of this drug.
The next myth is not related to other ailment or medical condition that finasteride can lead to, but to the same condition that is used for. It is really an important one to have a glance at.
Finasteride causes shedding
You do anticipate finasteride to stop hair loss and lead to regrowth, but the scenario can vary a bit at first. Your hair may start falling out, which is exactly the opposite of what you are paying for. Nevertheless, this is not a concern to have. What is happening is known as hair shedding and is essential for new hair to grow. Some people think that there is something wrong with their medication, or they are suffering side effects. However, this is what it is.
Finasteride actively ends the current hair growth cycle and starts a new one. Any hair that is found to be mid-cycle will fall out and be replaced by a new stronger hair. Therefore, we can say that finasteride does cause hair shedding but that is perfectly normal and any hair that you lose during shedding will be replaced by healthier, stronger one.
Facts about Finasteride
It can be said that finasteride is probably the best available for the treatment of pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia and the one approved by the regulatory agencies capable to attack the root of the problem. Either alone, or in combination with topical minoxidil, it was reported to reduce the hair loss, and/or restores hair growth in 9 of 10 patients. The drug can be taken at any time of the day, with or without food. As stated earlier several studies have demonstrated its safety over a long duration of administration. The drug is metabolized in the liver, and therefore should be used with caution in patients with liver diseases, however, there is no need to have liver function tests frequently.
Media reports, Internet sites and misinformation by other sources may contribute to drawing that negative image associated with finasteride, leading to apprehension and concern among patients taking the medication. Here we tried to uncover some of the scientific facts to aid in having the bigger picture. For those who are still anxious about side effects, it is worthwhile considering the administration of lower daily doses or staggered doses to enhance the compliance to the treatment. Once confidence is gained and you feel comfortable and in positive relation to the treatment, you can upgrade to the more effective higher doses.
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