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Dutasteride is a medication that doctors usually give to people with enlarged prostates. They may also prescribe it for the treatment of hair loss.

This article provides information about dutasteride, some alternative medications, and when to contact a doctor.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Dutasteride is a medication that doctors use to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is also known as enlarged prostate. Doctors may prescribe it on its own or with other medication.

Dutasteride also decreases a person’s risk of developing urinary retention, which is the inability to urinate. It also lowers a person’s likelihood of needing prostate surgery.

Additionally, doctors may prescribe dutasteride to treat hair loss. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the drug for hair loss treatment. Its use for this purpose is known as an off-label use.

Dutasteride is also known by its brand name Avodart.

Doctors can prescribe dutasteride for people with enlarged prostate glands. This may include those with prostate cancer.

Healthcare professionals may also prescribe it off-label for hair loss.

Doctors may recommend other noninvasive treatments alongside dutasteride for hair loss.

Learn more about baldness and treatments.

The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of dutasteride.

Pros

  • can help treat enlarged prostate
  • can help decrease urinary retention
  • lowers the risk of needing prostate surgery
  • can help reduce hair loss

Cons

  • side effects include reversible erectile dysfunction
  • the contents of dutasteride can cause harm to fetuses
  • increases the risk of developing high grade prostate cancer

Dutasteride is available as a capsule. People should swallow these capsules whole and not chew or crush them.

Individuals should take these capsules around the same time every day. They can take them with or without food.

A person should inform a doctor of any allergies they have, any medications they are taking, and medical conditions they have, such as liver disease or prostate cancer. Only males can take this medication.

Additionally, people cannot donate blood while taking dutasteride.

Dosage

The standard dosage for this drug is 0.5 milligrams (mg), which is equal to one capsule once per day. The dosage may change for various reasons, including:

  • a person’s age
  • the severity of their condition
  • whether or not they have liver or kidney disease

Both finasteride and dutasteride are part of a family of drugs called 5-alpha reductase (AR) inhibitors. Doctors prescribe these drugs for the treatment of enlarged prostate glands and male hair loss.

5-AR is an enzyme necessary for steroid metabolism. This enzyme exists in two forms: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is present in the sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and scalp. Type 2 is present in the hair follicles and the prostate.

Doctors only prescribe finasteride to treat type 2, whereas dutasteride can treat both types.

A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis concludes that dutasteride is more effective for treating hair loss than finasteride. However, both drugs cause similar side effects.

Another difference is that finasteride comes in the form of a tablet, whereas dutasteride comes in the form of a capsule.

The dosage for finasteride tends to be stronger, at 5 mg.

Finasteride is also known by the brand name Proscar.

Other alternatives

Here is an overview of how dutasteride compares with finasteride and other alternatives.

Requires a prescriptionUsesForm of medication
DutasterideyesBPH
hair loss
capsule
FinasterideyesBPH
hair loss
tablet
FlomaxyesBPHcapsule
TamsulosinyesBPHcapsule

Dutasteride is a prescription medication. It requires a visit to a doctor to obtain.

However, many online pharmacies dispense dutasteride. These online providers usually require a person to have a virtual appointment with a doctor before dispensing prescription drugs.

Some examples of these online pharmacies include Push Health and Blink Health.

With Push Health, once a person receives a prescription from one of its medical providers, the company sends the medication to the person’s chosen pharmacy.

Blink Health does not offer online consultations. A person must already have a prescription from a doctor. They can choose to pick up their medication or receive a delivery.

Many online services, including Roman and Keeps, do not prescribe dutasteride. They provide finasteride for the treatment of hair loss only.

Some common side effects of dutasteride include:

  • difficulty maintaining or getting an erection
  • decreased libido
  • ejaculation problems

If any of the above side effects are severe, a person should inform a doctor.

If a person experiences any of the following rare side effects, they should seek immediate medical attention:

  • breast changes, such as growth, lumps, pain, or discharge
  • swelling in the face, tongue, or throat
  • breathing or swallowing difficulties
  • peeling skin

There is a possibility that taking this medication can increase a person’s risk of developing fast-spreading prostate cancer. Doctors should discuss this risk with people before they prescribe the medication to them.

Dutasteride may also interact with certain medications a person is already taking.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says that making the following lifestyle changes may help with mild symptoms of BPH:

  • reducing liquid intake before leaving the house or going to sleep
  • limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • avoiding certain medications, including antidepressants and antihistamines
  • training the bladder
  • doing regular pelvic floor muscle exercises

The NIDDK says that a person is at higher risk of developing BPH if they:

Learn more about how enlarged prostates affect sex.

Some common symptoms of BPH include:

  • frequent urination
  • an urgent need to urinate
  • difficulty starting or maintaining a urine stream
  • urination during sleep
  • pain during urination or ejaculation
  • urine that has an unusual color or smell

Males with any of the above symptoms should inform a doctor.

Some common questions and answers about dutasteride include the following.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose?

If a person forgets to take a dose of dutasteride, they can take it as soon as they remember on that same day. If they do not remember until the next day, they should not take two doses on the same day.

How long should I take dutasteride for?

People take this medication long-term. Some people notice an immediate improvement in their symptoms, but for others, it may take a few months to see results.

Can females take dutasteride?

No, only males can take this medication. If a female, child, or adolescent comes into contact with the inside of the medication, they must wash their hands immediately. This is because the skin can absorb the active ingredient.

Dutasteride can treat BPH and hair loss problems. However, the FDA has not approved this drug for hair loss treatment.

A person can purchase dutasteride from a brick-and-mortar pharmacy or from some online pharmacies, as long as they have a doctor’s prescription.