Adverse Side Effects of Finasteride

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Finasteride, Oral Tablet

Healthline

Highlights for finasteride
  1. Finasteride oral tablet is available in brand-name and generic versions. Brand names include: Proscar and Propecia.
  2. Finasteride only comes as a tablet you take by mouth.
  3. Finasteride is used to treat enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and male pattern hair loss.
Important warnings
  • Pregnancy contact warning: Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant shouldn’t handle crushed or broken finasteride tablets. Contact with this drug, even through the skin, by these women could lead to defects in developing male fetuses.
  • Prostate cancer warning: This drug belongs to a class of drugs that could increase your risk of a faster growing or irregular form of prostate cancer. Finasteride can cause a decrease in your prostate specific antigen (PSA) level. An increased level of this antigen has been associated with prostate cancer. If your PSA levels increase while on this medication, it may be a sign of prostate cancer.
What is finasteride?

Finasteride is a prescription drug. It comes as an oral tablet.

Finasteride oral tablet is available as the brand-name drugs Proscar and Propecia. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name drug.

Why it’s used

The condition that finasteride is used to treat depends on the type of the drug used.

  • Proscar is used to treat the symptoms of enlarged prostate (benign prostate hyperplasia). It may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you need to take it with other drugs. It also can be taken with doxazosin to reduce the risk of progression of symptoms of enlarged prostate.
  • Propecia is used to treat male pattern hair loss.

Finasteride isn’t prescribed for use in women or children.

How it works

Finasteride works by decreasing the amount of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your body. DHT normally causes your prostate to grow larger.

The decrease in DHT helps prevent your prostate from growing larger. It also leads to increased hair growth and decreased hair loss of the hair on your head. Hair growth on other parts of the body isn’t affected.

Finasteride side effects

Finasteride oral tablet doesn’t cause drowsiness, but it can cause other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects that can occur with finasteride include:

  • decreased sex drive
  • trouble getting or keeping an erection
  • ejaculation disorder
  • increase in breast size and tenderness
  • skin rash

If these effects are mild, they may disappear within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t disappear, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • swelling of your lips, tongue, throat, or face
  • depression
  • lumps or pain in your breasts
  • nipple discharge

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we can not guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.

Finasteride may interact with other medications

An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. To help prevent interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking.

To find out how finasteride oral tablet might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we can not guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

Finasteride warnings

This drug comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

Finasteride can cause a severe allergic reaction, causing symptoms such as:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

If you develop these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

Contact with drug warning

Finasteride may be passed through the skin. Pregnant women and women who plan to become pregnant in the near future shouldn’t handle this drug. Doing so could cause birth defects.

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with liver disease: This drug is processed in your liver. If you have liver disease, your body might process this drug more slowly. This could lead to a buildup of this drug in your body, which could increase your risk of side effects. Your doctor might reduce your dosage of finasteride.

For people with prostate cancer: Finasteride can increase the chance of a faster growing or irregular form of prostate cancer. If you have or have had prostate cancer, this drug can make it worse.

Warnings for other groups

For pregnant women: This drug is not prescribed for use in women, and should never be used during pregnancy.

For women who are breastfeeding: Finasteride should never be used in breastfeeding women. It isn’t known if finasteride passes through breast milk.

This drug is not prescribed for use in women.

For children: The safety and effectiveness of finasteride in children haven’t been established. This drug is not prescribed for use in children.

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