Does Finasteride Have Other Uses?

Finasteride's intended use was as a treatment for prostatic hyperplasia, which is more commonly known as the enlargement of the prostate. This and as a hair loss treatment are the only uses of finasteride, which are licensed and it should not be used for anything else except under the guidance of an experienced medical professional.

What is Prostatic Hyperplasia?

Prostatic hyperplasia is a common disorder of the prostate in which it becomes enlarged. It is a benign condition meaning that it is non- cancerous. It is increasingly common in men over the age of 50 years old, and your chances of developing it increase with age. Over 50 % of men over the age of 60 years old suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia.

What Are the Symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?

As the prostate enlarges, it presses on the urethra, which makes passing urine difficult. As a result of this, the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia are all related to passing urine. They include:

  • A lack of flow where the flow of urine stops and starts again
  • A small, weak stream of urine
  • Struggling to pass urine
  • Prolonged urination
  • A feeling of fullness in the bladder after passing urine
  • Desperation when getting the urge to pass urine
  • Regular need to pass urine
  • Waking during the night to urinate
  • Leakage of urine when you get the urge to urinate
  • Inability to pass urine.

If you notice these symptoms, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. These can also be symptoms of more serious illnesses such as cancer of the prostate and Parkinson's disease and as a result should be checked over straight away.

How is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Diagnosed?

There are several stages of diagnosis for benign prostatic hyperplasia. This begins with a digital rectal examination whereby your doctor inserts his finger into your rectum to feel the prostate. If the prostate feels enlarged, lumpy or tender further tests may be required.

The doctor will also check your bladder by pressing on you abdomen. You will also need to give a urine sample so that the doctor can test for urinary tract infections and diabetes.

After this, the doctor may do a blood test to check for kidney function and blood sugar levels. They will also check your prostate specific antigen levels, as if these are too high it may indicate that you have prostate cancer or prostatitis. This will allow the doctor to diagnose your condition allowing them to decide the best treatment for you.

If all of these tests come back inconclusive, you may require a urinary flow test or an ultrasound scan. You may also be required to undergo a urodnamic measurement during which a catheter is inserted into your bladder to test for bladder function or an obstruction because of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

How Does Finasteride Treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?

Finasteride was originally intended to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. Finasteride is a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor, which prevents the conversion of testosterone into dehydrotestosterone. Dehydrotestosterone is believed to be partially responsible for the growth of the prostate.

Finasteride lowers the levels of dehydrotestosterone in the blood preventing it from causing further enlargement of the prostate. It can also reverse some of the enlargement, reducing the size of the prostate to a near- normal size. It can take over six months for finasteride to have an effect on benign prostatic hyperplasia.

There are also other treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia such as tamsulosin or alfuzosin, which relax the muscles of the bladder and the prostate relieving some of the pressure on the urethra. These are less effective than finasteride and do not prevent the development of complications.

If complications arise, you may require surgery either to remove the prostate or to remove parts of it, allowing the urine to pass through the urethra uninhibited.

Can Finasteride Be Used to Treat Male Pattern Balding and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?

Finasteride was discovered as a hair loss treatment through its use in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia. If you suffer from male pattern balding and are diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia, it is likely that if you are treated with finasteride it will also have an effect on your hair.

If this is the case, you should not try to increase the dosage of your prostate medication. The standard dosage to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia is 5 mg per day. This is much greater than the standard dosage to treat male pattern balding and as a result will treat both conditions without the need for an increased dosage.

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