The precautions and warnings about the use of Propecia.
Effectiveness of the Drug.
Propecia looks to be a really effective drug if you consider the remarkable difference between the results experienced by the control group compared to the ones experienced by the test group.
Are the results of the drug permanent or temporary, though? According to studies, Finasteride is only effective as long as the patient continues to take it. If you decide to stop using Propecia, you may again experience hair loss after about six months to a year. Unfortunately, you will also lose the hair that you have gained during the active treatment period, and hair loss is again reactivated.
If you do make use of Propecia, you will experience that it is most effective on particular parts of your scalp. You will find the best hair growth on the crown of your head, though the medication is really designed to restore hair and stop hair loss not only at the crown areas, but also at the hairline.
Like many other medications, Propecia does come with some unwanted side effects that sometimes makes it difficult for some patients to continue with the treatment. Propecia is designed for men, and about as much as 18.5% have reported impotence as a negative side effect of the drug. About 1.3% actually experienced erectile dysfunction. Many of the other side effects are sexual in nature because of the drug’s effects on sexual hormones. This is why about 7.2% of study participants reported experiencing abnormal ejaculation, with about 0.9% to 2.8% of the whole experiencing decreased amounts of semen when they do ejaculate. 2.5% of the participants reported abnormalities in how their sexual organs function, while 2.2% actually found that their breasts have developed to larger sizes than what is normal for males. The latter condition is known as gynecomastia. Yet another sexual side effect is testicular pain.
Negative sexual side effects are not even the end of the road. There are yet other possible side effects, such as depression.
Because side effects have the potential to be serious, some patients may want to stop using Propecia. Once a patient stops using the hair loss treatment, the unwanted symptoms will disappear. This is good news to those who have been suffering from the side effects. It is also good to know that most of those who do continue using Propecia despite the side effects will later on resolve the earlier issues. You cannot ignore the fact, however, that there are still a number of Propecia users who still suffered from erectile dysfunction even though they have already stopped using the hair loss treatment.
The persistence of negative side effects can be a cause of concern. However, it looks like there are people who get more easily accustomed to the effects of the drug’s components. For others, however, the FDA has issued an additional warning on how the drug increases the risk of prostate cancer. The fact that Finasteride reduces the size of a harmless prostate enlargement does not mean that it also completely prevents prostate cancer. In fact, by reducing the size of the prostate gland, it can actually disguise the earlier signs of prostate cancer. The FDA issued a warning to ensure that patients do not go on using Propecia with the belief that they will be safe from the dangers of prostate cancer. The shrinking of a benign enlargement of the prostate gland may actually delay diagnosis, thus exposing the patient to more serious forms of prostate enlargement.
The Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, which was a study conducted back in 2005, revealed that going for a daily 5mg dose of Propecia to treat harmless enlargement of the prostate will help in reducing the risks of developing prostate cancer by as much as 25%, at least when compared to the participants who were only taking mere placebo. These findings were noted after the end of the trials. Three years later, the study was updated. By that time, it was discovered that Finasteride actually reduces the chance of one developing prostate cancer, by as much as 30%.
Sexual Side Effects
Earlier, various sexual side effects have been discussed. To what extent does Propecia affect the sexual lives of patients using it?
The Swedish Medical Products agency has discovered something very disturbing about the component, Finasteride, back in December 2008. According to its report, Finasteride can actually cause irreversible sexual dysfunction, which can be more specifically described as not being able to achieve an erection. The agency has noted this particular side effect as the most common complaint of male patients. The Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK has taken note of similar reports. It has revealed that there are patients who continue to suffer impotence even after they have discontinued Finasteride use. Health authorities in Italy submitted reports that are consistent to these.
Because of the increasing and consistent reports of erectile dysfunction, the warning label of the hair loss treatment drug had gone through a revision, initially in Europe, and a couple of years later, also in the United States. The warning label already covers possible persistence of erectile dysfunction even after the duration of hair loss treatment.
One of the reasons Propecia is not advised for use by those going through hormonal therapy in the process of becoming female from male is that the drug can cause mood alterations. The transgender change is already an emotionally-draining event. Adding a drug that could heighten the depression and anxiety is not advisable.
A specific study shows that a daily 1mg dosage of Finasteride can cause moderate to severe depression. 19 out of the 23 participants, or 83% of the lot, experienced these symptoms. The study, however, also involved female participants, who showed a more intense version of anxiety and depression. Some participants even experienced both symptoms at the same time.
Other studies did not invite female participants. In one particular study, 128 volunteered to take part. Each was given daily 1mg dose of Finasteride. They were then monitored for mood changes. The study revealed that Finasteride caused higher instances of depression. The participants’ levels of depression were tested using Black Depression Inventory (BDI) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Significant increases in BDI and HADS score were observed among the participants, at least in the case of depression. Based on the study, the anxiety results did not reveal significant increases. The proponents of the study did clearly advise caution when prescribing to patients who are depressed or who are highly likely to get depressed. Because of this particular study, Merck had to revise the hair loss treatment drug’s label as recently as late 2010, including the side effect of depression in the process.
So why does Finasteride have a strong impact on moods? It has been explained that DHT works with tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone and allopregnanolone, which are strong neuro-active steroids and modulators of the brain’s GABAAR or GABAA receptor. The GABAAR is found where benzodiazepines, alcohol, and anti-anxiety compounds work on the brain. Finasteride, however inhibits the 5a-reductase enzyme. So, the anti-anxiety compounds do not get produced as much as they normally could. As a result, someone who takes Propecia may experience mood alterations and sexual dysfunctions that have been illustrated earlier. The suppression of 5a-reductase also decreases neuro-active steroids, which explains why even women participating in Finasteride tests report similar mood-related side effects. If only DHT were affected then only male patients could have experienced both changes in mood and sexual performance.
Propecia and Birth Defects
While Propecia is generally used by males with hair loss problems, FDA has also considered Finasteride’s possible effects on pregnancies, especially on male fetuses. The drug component has been given a pregnancy category X by the FDA.
Women who may be pregnant or who can possibly get pregnant during the duration of Propecia treatment should just avoid the drug altogether, and should even make sure that they do not get in contact with crushed or powdered forms of the drug. The powder could be absorbed by the skin and may still be able to significantly affect a pregnancy. Skin contact may still be able to pose a lower risk than if a tablet were actually ingested, but it still pays to be extra careful. Category X drugs, after all, are known to result to birth defects in male fetuses. Women who are no longer pregnant but are currently breastfeeding are also advised to refrain from taking Finasteride in any of it possible forms. It is not yet known whether the drug component has the ability to get through breast milk. This unknown factor makes things a little more dangerous for male babies as the compound can especially cause developmental defects on them.
Finasteride, from what you have been reading about it by now, has a serious impact on the male sex. It can possibly pass into the semen of men who are using it as a hair loss treatment. This should not concern pregnant women who may become in contact with such semen.