Two drugs used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), inasteride (Proscar) and dudasteride (Avodart), have been found to have associated side effects. These two 5 alpha reductase inhibitors that have the capacity to shrink BPH patients’ prostate gland are also used to grow hair in men who suffer from male-pattern baldness.
The therapies work by blocking the enzyme that converts testosterone into 5 alpha dihydrotestosterone and other hormones that have the capacity to decrease prostate volume, so that urinary flow is made better. They can also inhibit hair loss in men who are balding.
Finasteride and dudasteride are not without their side effects, however. In the package instructions for finasteride, the manufacturers indicate that its use can result in a loss of male libido in 10 percent of those who take it. In addition, erectile dysfunction is found in 18 percent of those who take the drug. The impression is that once you stop taking it the symptoms return to normal, however, this is not always the case. Side effects usually appear within the first 6 months of starting finasteride and may or may not go way when the drug is stopped.
The United States NIH (National Institutes of Health) has begun to recognize the side effects of finasteride and have added post-finasteride syndrome or PFS among its list of Genetic and Rare Diseases. The exact criteria for diagnosis are not yet defined because more research needs to be done in order to better describe the disorder.
Besides the sexual side effects of 5 alpha reductase inhibitors, they seem to have other side effects as well according to some research that indicate these drugs may have a negative effect on the heart, causing heart attacks, and can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. There have also been studies linking 5 alpha reductase inhibitors and symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients who are taking the medication.
The research so far has been inconclusive but there is enough evidence relating finasteride and dudasteride to negative side effects that both doctors and patients need to make an informed decision about whether or not to take these medications for BPH or hair loss.