Written by Aparna Hari
When couples try to conceive, they need to understand that their current medication could potentially impact their fertility. Especially if men are undergoing treatment for a specific cause, one such medication is finasteride which is primarily used for hair loss and enlarged prostate. So, can men take finasteride when trying to conceive?
Finasteride may not be ideal when you are trying to conceive. The side effects of this medication may interfere with hormone levels and sperm production. So what is Finasteride, how does it work and what are its impacts on male fertility? Should you stop Finasteride when planning to have a baby? This article explains everything you need to know.
In This Article
Finasteride is an oral drug prescribed by doctors that can be used on its own or in combination with other medications to get rid of the symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy or male pattern hair loss. It belongs to a class of medications commonly known as 5-Alpha reductase inhibitors.
Men generally use finasteride for two primary purposes – for an enlarged prostate and to treat hair loss.
An enlarged prostate is medically known as Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH). It is a common condition in which the prostate gland in men is gets enlarged. This condition is not as harmful as cancer.
The primary cause for enlarged prostate is still unknown but is commonly found among men over 50. Finasteride is the common medication prescribed to treat Enlarged prostate.
It is essential to understand that finasteride helps control the symptoms of BPH but does not entirely cure them. You can consume finasteride at the prescribed dosage, but not more or less. It takes around six months to control the symptoms completely.
Finasteride helps in easing out the following symptoms of BPH.
Yet another widespread finasteride prescription is to treat male pattern hair loss. It takes almost three months to see improvement as it takes a lot of time for the hair to nourish. Carrying on the medication during the entire hair loss treatment is very important.
You can see a perfect improvement during the first twelve months. If you see a good improvement, your doctor will not ask you to stop consuming finasteride. The reason is when you suddenly stop taking the medication, chances are higher that you may lose your newly grown hair quickly.
You will probably not see much more if you do not see any improvement in the twelve months. Talk to your doctor and take further steps.
Finasteride was introduced in the 1980s by Merck and co as a medication for enlarged prostate. But, during the trial, doctors and scientists observed that the drug could also treat hair loss.
A specific Type-II enzyme called Reductase converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Thereby the level of testosterone in the body decreases, and DHT will be abundant, which is the primary cause of concern for BPH. This may sometimes lead to prostate cancer.
The excess DHT is also the primary reason for hair loss among men by shrinking the hair follicles to a level where they stop growing. Finasteride helps regrow the hair by reducing DHT and preventing future hair loss. It helps nourish the hair follicles all around and not just the bald area.
Two significant brands supply finasteride for two primary purposes.
To understand how finasteride affects male fertility, you need to understand the role of testosterone and DHT in the male human body.
When the body produces testosterone, at least 10 percent of the same is converted to DHT, which is the primary hormone that develops you into a male. As men grow older, DHT gets collected in their prostate. When it gets abundant, men encounter an enlarged prostate. Excess DHT can also cause patterned hair loss.
When men consume finasteride to control the symptoms of BPH and Hair loss, the production of DHT reduces considerably. Testosterone is the essential hormone responsible for sperm production. Anything that impacts testosterone levels also has an impact on fertility.
If you ever doubt that finasteride would affect male fertility – Yes, it has a negative impact on male fertility. A 2020 study conducted on men who consumed finasteride for six months showed that their sperm counts and testosterone levels dropped.
Researchers are still being conducted about how the drug impacts sperm health. A study conducted in 2021 indicated that finasteride also interferes with a hormone – prostaglandin, that signals the sperm for motility and production.
Several research works and debates are still going on to determine if the effect is permanent or if fertility can be restored to normal if the medicine is discontinued.
Finasteride, apart from the common side effects, including rashes, dizziness, and weakness, can also adversely affect the sexual life of men. The following are some of the side effects of finasteride that have an impact on male fertility.
All of these side effects can have a direct as well as indirect impact of male fertility and the ability to successfully conceive.
So, can men take finasteride when trying to conceive? It is better to avoid. Finasteride may adversely affect the sperm count and even the fetus’s health if you conceive. Doctors recommend men stop finasteride at least three months before they plan their pregnancy. This time period is necessary to check and bring back the testosterone levels in the body.
If you are planning to have a baby along with your hair loss treatment, you must talk to your healthcare provider. There are several alternative medications or treatments that you can undergo without doing much damage to male fertility. Usually, these effects should go away. If not, it is essential to talk to your doctor.
Yes. Research and studies have proved that when men consume finasteride, their sperm count reduces drastically. If you plan on expanding your family, you may need to talk to your health practitioner about alternative treatments for your condition that will not affect your fertility.
The answer to this question is quite controversial as the debate and research are still ongoing. While some studies say that sperm count, motility, and morphology increase drastically after discontinuation, others say the damage that happened once is not reversible. Well, according to science, sperm regenerates every 72 days. However, there is still no conclusive evidence of whether the effects of finasteride are permanent or fade away after discontinuation.
Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.
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