Propecia has a prevention and improvement score of over 91.5%, according to a study that ran for over 10 years in Japan. The only reason we’re talking about Japan is that it was one of the longest-running studies of Propecia ever undertaken. So it’s a great way to see how effective it is.
Propecia can help with baldness, especially baldness that focuses on the crown or middle of the scalp. It essentially lowers the amount of DHT your body produces, which can lead to increased hair growth and slower hair fall.
But do you need to worry about any Propecia side effects? A quick glance will make it seem like there’s an extensive list of major side effects. That isn’t always the case, but it is always better to be prepared and informed.
Let’s break down some of the most common side effects of Propecia or Finasteride, as well as some of the more serious ones. Keep reading to find out how you can reduce your side effects if you are experiencing any.
Table of contents
What Are the Side Effects of Propecia?
Propecia may cause some side effects, with some of the biggest ones being psychological. A study from 2020 found over 3,000 reports of side effects from Propecia and that around 89% of those were psychological.
These were related to depression, anxiety, and potentially suicidal thoughts. Additionally, patients taking Propecia were 4 times more likely to experience these symptoms. However, these symptoms were more common for men taking Propecia for hair loss rather than those taking them for other reasons.
With that in mind, men who experience hair loss, in general, are more likely to report feelings of depression. It’s something that can cause a lot of stress and anguish for men and thus is often associated with poor self-image, depression, and anxiety.
However, there is not yet any concrete evidence or studies done to compare men taking Propecia for hair loss compared to those with unmedicated male pattern baldness.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the more common side effects.
Propecia Common Side Effects
The more psychological concerns aside, Propecia has some physical side effects that you should know about. These will differ from person to person, and there are definitely things you can do to help reduce or stop the side effects altogether. We’ll touch on that in a moment.
For now, let’s look at the topmost common side effects of Propecia as a prescription medication, listed in order of likelihood.
- Erectile dysfunction
- Trouble reaching orgasm
- Loss of libido
- Abnormal ejaculation
- Swelling in your hands and feet
- Swelling in the chest area
- Feeling faint
- Runny noses
- Skin rash
Propecia Serious Side Effects
One of the more serious side effects of taking Propecia is that the sexual effects may continue even after you stop taking it. Here, it’s better to speak to your doctor about your concerns and have a conversation regarding what you can do to mitigate this.
Propecia may also stimulate a decrease in what we call the blood prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which can affect a PSA blood test. While the test looks for signs of prostate cancer, it isn’t perfect in and of itself.
That being said, you don’t want to risk having a test skewed if it is something you’re concerned about. However, there are a few things you can do to help understand your results.
If you notice any side effects of Propecia, talk to your physician. Do not change the dosage on your own.
Propecia can trigger a PSA reading of 2.0 (when the conventional range should be between 0 and 4.0). If you’ve been on Propecia for more than a year, you should double the score you get from your test. If you’ve been taking Propecia for more than a single year, don’t double it.
Rather, look at the change in PSA over time. If it’s going up by more than 3/10ths of a point, then you should consider a biopsy. A doctor will be able to help you make these sorts of analyses and decisions.
Let’s summarize the serious side effects you may experience, including the potential for increased suicidal thoughts.
- Persistent sexual problems
- Skewed PSA results
- Mental health concerns
It’s crucial not to have any pregnant or breastfeeding women handle crushed or broken tablets since they can be potentially dangerous.
How to Reduce the Side Effects of Propecia
You can help reduce the side effects of Propecia by taking it at different points in the day. If you take it in the morning, rather opt to take it at night. This will help you avoid any of the more physical side effects in your waking hours. You also want to avoid mixing Propecia with alcohol.
You can also reduce the severity by taking your medication with food. If that doesn’t help, speak to your doctor about lowering your dose, as this will reduce the severity as well.
Here are some other things you can do that may help:
- Follow a healthy diet
- Eat zinc-rich foods
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
- Avoid extreme temperatures
- Use the medication only as directed
When Should You Not Use Propecia?
While physicians do not give Propecia to women as a medication, it’s important not to have any pregnant or breastfeeding women handle crushed or broken tablets since they can be potentially dangerous.
Additionally, older men who have BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and those over the age of 55 (since the risk of high-grade prostate cancer is increased) should exercise caution when taking Propecia for the reasons we mentioned above.
For those with liver function issues, exercise caution. Propecia is also not indicated for use in pediatric patients.
Final Words and Key Takeaways
While Propecia can be excellent for treating hair loss and other medical conditions, it’s important to always be informed about what you’re putting in your body. We’re here because we want to help you make informed decisions, and as long as you remember to take care of yourself and take your medication as directed, you should be absolutely fine.
If you do experience feelings of depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, reach out to a healthcare professional immediately.