Finasteride: What it is, what it is used for and how to use it

belonging to the group of testosterone 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. More precisely, it is capable of inhibiting the type II 5-alpha-reductase enzyme.

Shutterstock Finasteride - Chemical Structure

Depending on the concentration to which it is administered, finasteride can be used for the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy (high doses) or androgenetic alopecia (low doses).

Finasteride medicines used for the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy require a repeatable prescription (RR) in order to be dispensed; however, since they are classified as Tier A drugs, their cost can be reimbursed by the National Health System (SSN), wholly or partially, depending on the case (it may be necessary to pay a ticket).

The finasteride-based medicines used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, on the other hand, can only be dispensed upon presentation of a non-repeatable medical prescription (RNR) and their cost is fully borne by the citizen (class C drugs).

Examples of Medicines containing Finasteride

  • Asterid®
  • Carefinast®
  • Fendazel®
  • Finacapil®
  • Finastid®
  • Finedor®
  • Finestar®
  • Propecia®
  • Prostide®

In low doses (1 mg of active ingredient per tablet), on the other hand, finasteride is used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in aged men between 18 and 41 years of age.

it is not a malignant tumor; however, in some patients the two conditions may coexist. For this reason, prostate cancer should be ruled out before starting treatment with finasteride. The doctor will then subject the patient to specific tests and tests (which include digital rectal examination and blood tests to determine the level of prostate specific antigen - PSA) both before and during treatment with finasteride.

In addition, patients should inform their physician if:

  • They have difficulty emptying their bladder;
  • They have very little urine flow;
  • They need to do a blood test for PSA, as finasteride can alter the outcome;
  • During treatment, lumps, pain, swelling of the chest or nipple discharge appear, as these could be signs of breast cancer;
  • If your partner is or could be pregnant, as it is necessary to avoid contact with finasteride; therefore, with the partner's seminal fluid as it may contain traces of it.

Finally, we remind you that during treatment with finasteride there have been reports of mood alterations, such as depressed mood, depression and - although less frequently - suicidal thoughts. Should such symptoms occur, contact your doctor immediately.

What you need to know before taking Finasteride against Androgenetic Alopecia

For the same reasons specified above, even if finasteride is used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, the doctor must be informed if:

  • You must have a blood test for PSA;
  • Symptoms such as those described above appear in the breast.

Furthermore, we recall that there have been reports of infertility in men who have taken finasteride for long periods of time and had other risk factors for the onset of infertility.

As for the use of the active ingredient against female androgenetic alopecia, finasteride is not effective. In any case, the active ingredient must NOT be used in women.

(OTC), herbal and phytotherapeutic products, homeopathic products, etc.

, manifesting undesirable effects different in type and intensity, or not manifesting them at all.

Here are some of the main side effects that can occur when taking finasteride, both in the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy and in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. However, for more specific and detailed information, please refer to the package leaflet of the finasteride-based medicine that you must take.

Undesirable effects deriving from the use of Finasteride against Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy

The most common side effects are impotence and decreased sexual desire which occur in the initial phase of therapy; however, in most patients, they resolve with continued treatment.

Other possible side effects include:

  • Decrease in the volume of the ejaculate;
  • Ejaculation disorders;
  • Skin rashes;
  • Breast enlargement
  • Breast tenderness;
  • Allergic reactions;
  • Depression;
  • Palpitations;
  • Itching, hives;
  • Testicular pain
  • Decreased sexual desire and / or impotence that persist even after the treatment has been stopped;
  • Male infertility.

Finally, it is reported that cases of breast cancer have been reported.

Undesirable effects deriving from the use of Finasteride against Androgenetic Alopecia

The side effects that may occur are usually mild and transient.

However, treatment with finasteride should be stopped immediately if side effects such as swelling of the tongue, throat and face, difficulty in swallowing and / or breathing, hives appear, as these are signs of allergic reactions.

Other possible side effects include:

  • Difficulty getting an "erection;"
  • Decreased libido
  • Problems with ejaculation, including decreased amount of semen
  • Swelling of the breasts
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Depressed mood
  • Tachycardia;
  • Increased liver enzymes;
  • Male infertility;
  • Permanence of decreased libido, ejaculation disorders and erectile dysfunction even after the end of the treatment.

Again, cases of breast cancer have been reported.

Finasteride overdose

If you take too much finasteride, you should contact your doctor immediately or go to the nearest hospital.

it depends on DHT, the inhibition of its synthesis can keep its enlargement under control in the context of benign prostatic hypertrophy.

Furthermore, DHT - together with a series of genetic factors - is also believed to be responsible for the reduction of the growth phase of the hair and the thinning of the same that typically occur in the context of androgenetic alopecia. This is the reason why the "Finasteride intake may also prove useful in the treatment of the aforementioned type of alopecia, although the effectiveness may vary from patient to patient. It should be noted, however, that finasteride can bring benefits to the condition of androgenetic alopecia only in men with a loss of mild to moderate hair and not with complete hair loss.

. If necessary, to control an enlarged prostate, the doctor may also prescribe the patient to take doxazosin.

The first improvements can already be seen in a short time; however, in some cases it may be necessary to continue finasteride therapy for at least six months.

Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia

The usual dose used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia is one finasteride 1 mg tablet once a day, with or without food. Usually, to obtain results, finasteride should be taken for extended periods of time. Follow the directions. of the doctor regarding the duration of the treatment and, in case of doubt, contact him.


Furthermore, pregnant or breastfeeding women must NOT come into contact with tablets containing crumbled or broken finasteride - whether they are intended for the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy or androgenetic alopecia - as there is a risk of absorption of the active ingredient also through the skin. Should such an event occur, affected patients should immediately notify their physician.

Ilaria Randi

Graduated in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, she took and passed the State Exam for the Qualification to the Profession of Pharmacist
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