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Proscar is a unique compound that counters some of the negative effects of testosterone in the body.

It blocks an enzyme that converts testosterone to a more potent hormone called 5-alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT for short).

This testosterone derivative is apparently responsible in most cases for the gradual enlargement of the prostate gland that occurs as a man ages.

It may also have a role to play in male-pattern baldness.

Proscar is prescribed to treat the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH–noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland).

Although prostate tissue actually shrinks in most men who take Proscar, only about half or possibly fewer will get good relief from symptoms such as difficult urination.

A man must take Proscar for 6 months before the benefits of the medicine can be assessed.

Side Effects and Interactions

Proscar is usually very well tolerated and side effects are uncommon.

A few men have experienced impotence, lower sex drive or less ejaculate. Report any symptoms to your physician.

No significant drug interactions have shown up in the medical literature. As doctors and patients acquire more experience with Proscar, however, that may change.

Common sense would suggest that men taking Proscar, which acts in a similar manner to saw palmetto berry extract, should avoid the herbal product except under a physician’s recommendation and monitoring.

Check with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure Proscar is safe in combination with any other drugs you take.

Special Precautions

DHT is crucial for the normal development of a male fetus and is important in early male sexual development. Proscar should never be administered to children or women for this reason.

The manufacturer warns that pregnant women should not handle crushed Proscar tablets nor be exposed to the semen of a patient on Proscar to avoid possible harm to a male infant.

Because Proscar is relatively new, the long-term experience with it is limited. Periodic physical examination of the prostate is recommended for men on Proscar.

Taking the Medicine

Proscar is taken once a day with or without meals.

It should be stored at temperatures below 86 degrees F in a tightly closed container.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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