Dutasteride and tamsulosin are both medications prescribed for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men, also called an enlarged prostate. They can both help relieve symptoms of BPH, which include painful or difficult urination, urinary urgency or frequency, and problems fully emptying the bladder. Dutasteride and tamsulosin work in different ways: tamsulosin is an alpha blocker that works by relaxing the muscles to facilitate the flow of urine, and dutasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor that works to reduce the size of the enlarged prostate.
Patients should discuss their medical condition with their doctors to determine which of these drugs is right for them. Dutasteride and tamsulosin are both available as oral medications to be taken by mouth. Tamsulosin is taken once daily, about 30 minutes after consuming a meal. Dutasteride is also taken once daily for most patients, but it may be taken with or without food. Patients should always swallow the capsules whole, rather than splitting them.
Some side effects may occur with the use of dutasteride and tamsulosin, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Dutasteride may cause a decreased libido, problems ejaculating, and difficulty maintaining an erection, as well as enlargement or tenderness of the breast. Tamsulosin may also cause difficulty ejaculating, as well as blurred vision, sleepiness, and insomnia. Patients taking this drug have also reported pain or pressure in the face, diarrhea, and back pain, as well as signs of an infection, which can include fever, chills, and a sore throat.
More serious side effects require a doctor's urgent care. Both dutasteride and tamsulosin may cause an allergic reaction, which can present with facial swelling, a rash, and difficulty breathing. Tamsulosin may also cause a painful erection. If this lasts for several hours, patients require medical help immediately.
Before taking dutasteride and tamsulosin, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. Women and children should never handle or take dutasteride, because it can cause birth defects. Dutasteride may interact with other drugs, including antibiotics, antidepressants, and antifungal drugs. Tamsulosin may also interact with these types of drugs, as well as cyclosporine, erectile dysfunction medicines, and heart or blood pressure drugs.
Certain precautions should be followed while using dutasteride and tamsulosin. Alcohol should be avoided with tamsulosin, because it can worsen some side effects. This drug may also cause dizziness, so patients should get up slowly from a sitting or prone position. Patients taking dutasteride must avoid donating blood for at least six months following their last dose.