Dutasteride for prostate gland enlargement (Avodart)

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Dutasteride is for men only. It must not be taken by women, children or adolescents.

Take one capsule each day.

Your symptoms may start to improve within a few weeks, although it can take up to six months for you to notice the full benefit.

Type of medicine5-alpha reductase inhibitor
Used forEnlargement of the prostate gland in men
Also calledAvodart®
There is also a brand called Combodart® which contains dutasteride in combination with tamsulosin
Available asCapsules

The prostate gland commonly becomes larger in older men. Prostate gland enlargement is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The prostate is situated close to the bladder, so its enlargement can cause problems with passing urine. Common symptoms that are experienced are having to wait before your urine starts to flow, taking longer at the toilet, dribbling urine, and a feeling that your bladder is not quite empty.

Dutasteride works by blocking the conversion of the hormone testosterone to the more potent hormone dihydrotestosterone. It does this by blocking an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. Dihydrotestosterone is partly responsible for making the prostate enlarge. Therefore, a reduced amount of dihydrotestosterone in the prostate causes it to shrink. This helps you to pass urine more easily.

Sometimes, more than one type of medicine is needed to control the symptoms of prostate enlargement. Dutasteride is available in combination with another medicine for prostate enlargement, called tamsulosin. The combination brand is called Combodart® and it may give quicker and better relief of symptoms than either medicine alone.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking dutasteride it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about dutasteride and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take dutasteride exactly as your doctor tells you to. Take one capsule each day. Swallow the capsule whole - do not chew or open the capsule as this could irritate your mouth.
  • You can take the capsule either before or after a meal, but try to take the capsule at the same time of day each day. This will help you to remember to take your doses regularly.
  • If you forget to take a dose on time, take it when you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Your symptoms may start to improve within a few weeks although it can take up to six months for you to notice the full benefit. This is because it takes time for the prostate gland to gradually shrink. Because of this, it is important that you continue to take the capsules regularly, even if you don't feel a benefit straightaway.
  • Remember to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Consider reducing or stopping the amount of caffeine you drink (commonly found in tea, coffee and cola) and alcohol. These can make your symptoms worse, so drinking less of these things may benefit you.
  • If you are a smoker, stopping smoking may significantly improve your symptoms. This is because nicotine irritates the bladder. Ask your doctor for advice on quitting.
  • Dutasteride may cause harm to an unborn baby. Because of this, women who are pregnant should not handle these capsules if they are damaged or leaking. Also, small amounts of dutasteride will be in your semen while you are taking this medicine, and it is therefore recommended that you use a barrier method of contraception (such as a condom) if your partner could become pregnant. If you need further advice about this, speak with your pharmacist or doctor.
  • If you are having an operation or any medical treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking dutasteride. This is because dutasteride can interfere with a blood test used to detect prostate cancer, so you must tell your doctor about taking dutasteride if you need this test.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with dutasteride. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common dutasteride side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 men)What can I do if I experience this?
Reduced desire to have sex, inability to get an erection, breast tendernessIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor
Dizziness when taken with tamsulosinDo not drive or use tools or machines while affected

Important: if you develop any pain or lumps in your breast area, or any discharge from your nipples, you should tell your doctor. This is because there have been a few rare reports of breast cancer in men taking 5-alpha reductase inhibitors like dutasteride.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take alongside your prescribed medicines.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Avodart® 0.5 mg soft capsules; GlaxoSmithKline UK, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated March 2013.
  • British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
13883 (v2)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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