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Propecia

Generic Name: finasteride (fih NAH steh ride)
Brand Names: Propecia, Proscar

Medically reviewed on September 3, 2018

What is Propecia?

Propecia prevents the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body.

Propecia is used for the treatment of male pattern hair loss on the vertex and the anterior mid-scalp area. Male pattern hair loss is a common condition in which men experience thinning of the hair on the scalp. Often, this results in a receding hairline and/or balding on the top of the head. Propecia is for use by men only and should not be used by women or children.

Propecia may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information

Propecia should never be taken by a woman or a child. Finasteride can be absorbed through the skin, and women or children should not be permitted to handle Propecia tablets.

Although Propecia is not for use by women, this medication can cause birth defects if a woman is exposed to it during pregnancy. Propecia tablets should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. Propecia tablets are coated and will prevent contact with the active ingredient during normal handling, provided that the tablets are not broken or crushed. If a woman accidentally comes into contact with this medication from a broken or crushed tablet, wash the area with soap and water right away.

Before taking Propecia, tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction to finasteride, or to a similar medicine called dutasteride Avodart).

Using Propecia may increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. Your doctor will perform tests to make sure you do not have other conditions that would prevent you from safely using Propecia.

Call your doctor at once if you notice any breast lumps, pain, nipple discharge, or other breast changes. These may be signs of male breast cancer.

Before taking this medicine

Propecia should never be taken by a woman or a child. Finasteride can be absorbed through the skin, and women or children should not be permitted to handle finasteride tablets,

To make sure you can safely take Propecia, tell your doctor if you have any ever had:

  • liver disease, or abnormal liver function tests;

  • prostate cancer;

  • a bladder muscle disorder;

  • stricture of your urethra;

  • urination problems; or

  • an allergic reaction to a similar medicine called dutasteride (Avodart).

Using Propecia may increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. Your doctor will perform tests to make sure you do not have other conditions that would prevent you from safely using finasteride.

Although Propecia is not for use by women, this medication can cause birth defects if a woman is exposed to it during pregnancy. Propecia tablets should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. Propecia tablets are coated and will prevent contact with the active ingredient during normal handling, provided that the tablets are not broken or crushed. If a woman accidentally comes into contact with this medication from a broken or crushed tablet, wash the area with soap and water right away.

How should I take Propecia?

Take Propecia exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take it in larger amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water.

Propecia can be taken with or without food. Take the medicine at the same time each day.

It is important to use Propecia regularly to get the most benefit. You may need to take Propecia daily for three months or more before you see a benefit. Propecia can only work over the long term if you continue taking it. If the drug has not worked for you in twelve months, further treatment is unlikely to be of benefit. If you stop taking Propecia, you will likely lose the hair you have gained within 12 months of stopping treatment. You should discuss this with your doctor.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood may need to be tested often. Your doctor will also test your prostate specific antigen (PSA) to check for prostate cancer. Visit your doctor regularly.

Store Propecia at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of Propecia is not expected to produce life-threatening symptoms.

What should I avoid?

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.

Propecia side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Call your doctor at once if you notice any breast lumps, pain, nipple discharge, or other breast changes. These may be signs of male breast cancer.

Less serious Propecia side effects may include:

  • impotence, loss of interest in sex, or trouble having an orgasm;

  • abnormal ejaculation;

  • swelling in your hands or feet;

  • swelling or tenderness in your breasts;

  • dizziness, weakness;

  • feeling like you might pass out;

  • headache;

  • runny nose; or

  • skin rash.

The sexual side effects of Propecia (decreased libido, trouble having an erection, ejaculation problems) may continue after you stop taking this medication. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about these side effects.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Propecia?

There may be other drugs that can interact with Propecia. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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