If a doctor prescribes you a medication to help you with a medical problem, most people assume it’s safe to take.
It can even be common to “let your guard down” after seeing a doctor.
However, did you know many medicine labels have specific warnings called a “black box warning?” The label is often in a dark box embedded within the document. Black box label warnings offer essential information that you need to know about the medicine.
If you are taking Propecia, it’s important to be aware of anything you may have missed.
Let’s dig in on everything you need to know about how to read Propecia warnings so you can safely use the product.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
Table of contents
What is Propecia, and How Does it Work?
Propecia, also known by its generic name, Finasteride, is a popular supplement for those who have experienced hair loss.
Finasteride is taken orally, as opposed to Rogaine (minoxidil). Rogaine is applied directly to the problem area and is mostly an over-the-counter treatment.
Propecia belongs to a class of drugs called 5-ARIs. Unlike minoxidil, which can be used by both males and females, only men can use Finasteride.
Hair loss occurs when an enzyme in the human body changes testosterone into something called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT then binds to sensitive hair follicles and produces shorter, thinner hairs. After a while, those same follicles stop creating hair entirely.
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Propecia stops the body from producing DHT, helping slow hair loss in 80% of men, according to a clinical study.
The concentration of DHT drops by a whopping 65% within 24 hours of taking Finasteride, but it can take three months or longer to see the effects.
Finasteride (Propecia) is also marketed as Proscar for men that have a benign enlarged prostate. This is commonly found in men over 50 that have urinary problems.
What is the Normal Dosage for Propecia?
Propecia is offered in 1 mg tablets. The recommended dose of Propecia is to take one (1mg) tablet every day.
It usually takes around three months to see any improvement in hair loss. If you stop taking the treatment, the effect of the drug will reverse within 12 months.
How Can I Get Propecia?
Propecia and generic Finasteride tablets are only offered through prescription, as opposed to over-the-counter minoxidil treatments like Rogaine.
The medication Rogaine is a topical treatment that you apply directly to hair loss spots. By dilating blood vessels in the scalp, it activates a growth phase in hair follicles.
You need to see a licensed medical provider to see if Propecia is right for you. Luckily, several online services make this process easy.
Propecia is not typically covered by insurance and costs around $70 a month. On the other hand, you can find generic Finasteride for much less with the same benefits.
Read more: Minoxidil vs. Rogaine: What’s the Difference?
What Are the Black Box Propecia Warnings and Precautions?
According to Merck, the most common side effects of using Propecia are:
- Decreased sex drive
- Trouble getting or keeping an erection/impotence
- A decrease in the amount of semen
Some other infrequent reported Propecia precautions include:
- Breast tenderness or enlargement
- Allergic reactions
- Runny nose
- Low blood pressure
- Swelling in legs and arms
In the rarest cases, the following side effects have been reported:
- Male breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Male infertility
- Testicular pain
- Orgasm problems
- Blood in semen
Remember that it is always important to read any instructions and Propecia handling precautions that come with your medication.
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How Common Are These Side Effects?
Several studies found no increase in prostate cancer and aggressive cancer, as well as no change in survival rate in subjects who took Finasteride.
There has also been no link found to depression, even though it is commonly listed as a side effect.
The FDA has just recently changed the labelling on Propecia to reflect the possibility of sexual side effects.
With that said, most clinical trials suggest that it is rare. Some studies show side effects such as decreased sex drive or erectile dysfunction were reported in 3.4% to 15.8% of men, while others suggested only 2% of men experienced it.
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Who Can’t Take Propecia?
Women and children should not take Propecia.
Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not touch crushed or broken tablets of Finasteride. Human skin can absorb Finasteride and can cause birth defects in male babies.
These people should also not take Propecia:
- Have experienced allergic reactions to Propecia
- Are under 18 years old
- Have severe bladder problems
- Have liver problems
- Have prostate cancer
- Have suicidal thoughts
Read more: Is Mixing Propecia And Alcohol A Bad Idea? A Closer Look
Should I Stop Taking Propecia?
If you are experiencing unwanted side effects, they should stop once you stop taking Finasteride. Remember that if you do stop taking Propecia, your rate of hair loss will most likely return to what it was before you started taking the drug.
Before you start or stop taking any medication, be sure to speak with a medical professional about your specific situation.
Propecia is used and trusted by over 2.4 million people as of 2020.
Although some reported side effects may seem scary to men looking to find treatment for hair loss, it has mostly been shown that these cases are quite rare.
The best advice is to speak to a doctor to see if Finasteride is right for you. They can handle any questions you might have about the Propecia warnings and precautions.