An enlarged prostate is a common medical condition experienced mostly among elderly males. As per a few clinical studies, more than 50% of males – aged above 75 years – may have it in one form or another. In medical terms, this is called as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, in short). The typical signs include difficulties to pass urine, frequent urges to urinate, etc. In some rare cases, you may experience a sudden inability to urinate. Your urologist or treating doctor may prescribe drugs such as finasteride or similar other meds. You need to know why this drug may stop working. Such knowledge may be required for a safer intake of this med.

Prostate is a gland which makes the liquid in which sperm swims; this liquid is secreted when you are ejaculating. This gland is positioned around your urethra. The gland’s enlargement is a common occurrence among older men. It must not be confused with a cancerous condition; also, an enlargement of prostate is unlikely to trigger risks of autoimmune conditions like cancers. The actual cause behind this development remains elusive. It is widely believed that changes occurring inside the testicular tissues or cells may cause it. It is important to note that men who have had their testicles taken off (surgically) are more unlikely to have this condition.

What is finasteride?

This drug is used for the treatment of an enlarged prostate as well as alopecia (hair loss among men). If you notice signs such as difficulties to start urinating or a reduced output of urine, these may be due to an enlarged prostate. Intake of finasteride can reduce these signs (and their intensity); this drug may also reduce the need to go for a prostate surgery. In some cases, this drug is administered along with alpha-blocking drugs such as doxazosin. In case of loss of hair, finasteride can make your scalp hair to increase; however, it is unlikely to boost the growth of hair on your body.

How does this drug work?

Its key action rests in its ability to inhibit your body from making alpha-reductase enzyme; this plays a critical role in the enlargement of the prostate and loss of scalp hair. This enzyme converts testosterone into another form; which works as a catalyst for the above changes – i.e., prostate enlargement and male pattern baldness. In short, finasteride increases the level of testosterone in your body. Once your body is likely to get adequate levels of testosterone, hair fall may come to an end and your prostate gland may stop getting enlarged.

On the other hand, if you stop taking this drug – your prostate may start enlarging again and loss of hair may also resume. Finasteride needs to be taken under the supervision and guidance of a qualified medical practitioner. This drug is sold in only one form – the tablet / pill form. It is never given to pregnant women or babies (especially, male infants). Women who are pregnant may witness serious damages to their fetus; male infants may have their genitals impaired upon taking this med.

The common side effects of this drug include erectile dysfunction (or problems in getting / maintaining an erection), enhancement of breasts (among males) and softening of tissues; in some men, rashes on skin as well as problems associated with ejaculation has also been observed. However, most of these side effects are only of a milder nature. Also, many of these discomforts may go away once your body gets used to the key chemicals of finasteride. In some cases, the discomforts may continue or persist for long. In such instances, it is strongly recommended to consult with your treating doctor on an urgent mode.

Finasteride – why does it stop working?

This drug has a shorter half-life of less than six (6) days. Hence, in about seven (7) days’ time – all the properties of this drug may get flushed out of your body. So, after a week, the prior signs may recur – for example, you may start losing hair as before. One of the reasons finasteride may stop working is the rampant availability of counterfeit meds. Ensure to buy this med only from pharmacies that are renowned for the quality of meds they sell. You are advised to take the drug for at least one (1) year to assess how it works for you. Those who showed mild improvement in the first few months of use (at 1 milligram (mg) of this drug everyday) are more likely to respond well when the pill is taken for two or more years. However, those who could not see much progress in their medical condition in the first few months are unlikely to witness benefits out of a long term treatment plan.

It is highly recommended to talk to your caregiving team if you do not see positive results. In such instances, your physician may co-administer drugs like minoxidil along with finasteride. The former is a topical med – which works as a blood vessel widening agent. Minoxidil enhances the flow of blood and helps hasten the remedial effects. As an alternative, the medical team may recommend intake of vitamin D supplements or other herbal meds (such as pumpkin seeds, etc.).

A few precautions associated with the use of finasteride

This med must be taken by men who are aged 18 or more. It is strictly not for teens, children or women. If you are living with any prior ailments – especially, liver conditions (cirrhosis or hepatitis), bladder-related problems, if you are planning for pregnancy (the key chemicals may pass through semen and may harm the fetus of your partner who is pregnant). In case of an enlarged prostate, the typical dose is 3 to 5 mg within a 24-hour timeline. But, in case of male pattern hair loss / baldness, the dosage level is much less – say at as low as 1 mg each day.

In sum, finasteride is a suppressant and does not bring about a complete cure. So, the remedial effects are likely to last as long as you are taking this med. Soon after a week of stopping to take this med, the effects may wear off, and the earlier signs may start showing up again. The effects may also stop if you are using counterfeit meds. In general, it is a safe practice to talk to your treating doctor / pharmacist prior to using this suppressant med.

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