How Does Aldactone Help PCOS?
PCOS affects 1 out of 5 women in India and is one of the most common hormonal disorders among women of reproductive age.
One of the characteristics of PCOS is hyperandrogenism, a condition in which the body produces abnormally high levels of male hormones also known as androgens. Elevated levels of androgens contribute to several PCOS symptoms like acne, hair loss from the scalp and excessive hair on the face, chest and back. In some cases, it can also cause women to develop apple-shaped bodies.
Aldactone acts as an anti-androgen that blocks androgen receptors, including the receptors on the hair follicles, preventing testosterone and other male sex hormones from causing hyper-androgenic symptoms PCOS women face.
What Is Aldactone Used For?
Aldactone, in general, is used for the following conditions:
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Hypertensive Congestive Heart Failure
- Hypertensive Heart (w/o CHF) and Renal Disease
- Hypertensive Retinopathy
- Hypertensive Encephalopathy
- Primary Hyperaldosteronism
- Cardiovascular Disease
Generic Name & Class
Spironolactone is the name of the drug, sold under the brand name “Aldactone.”
How It Works
Aldactone acts by working against a hormone called aldosterone. As a result of too much aldosterone, the kidneys retain an excessive amount of sodium (a mineral) and water, while they lose an excessive amount of potassium. This medication thus counteracts the effects of aldosterone.
It also helps remove excess fluid from the body and lowers blood pressure. It may be given alone or along with other fluid-removing medicines (diuretics). Aldactone is also known to improve the effectiveness of other medicines for lowering blood pressure. Considering its diuretic abilities, increased urine flow is not likely to be a problem when this medication is used to treat hirsutism because the levels of aldosterone are not high generally in hirsutism patients.
Is It a Diuretic?
Yes, Aldactone is a diuretic.
Diuretics are substances that help the body get rid of sodium and water through urine. And Aldactone is one such example that causes the body to get rid of sodium and water, but it also helps retain potassium. As a result, it might sometimes cause the levels of potassium to become excessively high in the blood.
How Is It Dispensed?
Aldactone comes as a tablet that you can swallow. It’s available in three strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg.
Is This Prescription Effective for PCOS?
Aldactone is administered to PCOS patients suffering from hyper-androgenic symptoms, mainly hirsutism. It blocks the effects of male sex hormones in the body, thus helping women with PCOS overcome symptoms like acne, hair loss and excessive hair on the face, back and chest.
Anti-androgen drugs are often the last resort and should be considered in treating hirsutism only after cosmetic therapy (like laser, waxing, shaving), lifestyle modifications and/or 6-12 months of the oral contraceptive pill not working for you. You should take these drugs only under the guidance and advice of a medical professional.
What Are the Benefits?
Aldactone lowers blood pressure by removing excess water and salt from the body. This makes it easier for the heart to pump blood around the body and also lowers the risk of cardiac arrest.
It also acts as an anti-androgen that blocks androgen receptors, including the receptors on the hair follicles, preventing testosterone and other male sex hormones from causing hyper-androgenic symptoms PCOS women face. For severe forms of acne, scalp hair loss and excess facial/body hair, Aldactone can reduce androgen activity and hence the symptoms.
How Much Does Aldactone Cost?
The below-mentioned prices are according to the current Indian market:
- A 15-tablet strip of Aldactone 25 mg would cost around INR 35.
- A 15-tablet strip of Aldactone 50 mg would cost around INR 70.
- A 15-tablet strip of Aldactone 100 mg would cost around INR 211.
Understanding Your Dosage
The dosage of Aldactone depends on the severity of your symptoms and your concerns. The standard dosage usually varies between 50 mg and 100 mg, but a definite quantity can only be determined by a medical professional after analyzing your symptoms and their causes.
25 mg vs. 50 mg Dose
Your doctor can initially start off on a lower dosage to see how the body reacts and slowly increase the dosage based on the response and severity of your symptoms. Anti-androgen drugs like Aldactone are usually prescribed with birth control pills as it can affect the pregnancy and the baby.
How It Relates To Androgen Hormone Levels
Elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) contribute to several PCOS symptoms like hair loss from the scalp and excessive hair on the face, chest and back. Aldactone acts as an anti-androgen that blocks androgen receptors, including the receptors on the hair follicles, preventing testosterone and other male sex hormones from causing hyper-androgenic symptoms PCOS women face.
Possible Side Effects in Women
Common side effects of Aldactone include
- The feeling of being sick
- Cramps in muscles and the legs
- Breast pain
Some serious side effects can be diarrhoea, peeing lesser than normal, the whites of the eyes becoming yellow and lightheadedness.
Anti-androgens are usually prescribed along with oral contraceptive pills. That’s because anti-androgen drugs can be harmful to an unborn child so it is important to not get pregnant while you’re using drugs like Aldactone.
Possible Drug Interactions
Aldactone is known to interact with 358 drugs, however, the most common ones to beware of are products that might include lithium and drugs that increase potassium levels in the blood. For example, birth control pills contain drospirenone, eplerenone, tacrolimus, amiloride and cyclosporine.
It can also possibly react with drugs like colchicine, digoxin, lithium, loperamide, trimethoprim, heart or blood pressure medicine (especially another diuretic), medicine to prevent a blood clot; or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) — aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), celecoxib, diclofenac, indomethacin, meloxicam and others.
Foods To Avoid
Avoiding foods that contain high amounts of potassium is crucial when taking Aldactone. It is also advised to avoid meats and drinks high in potassium.
You must also avoid food with excessive salt as this may cause your body to retain water and lower the effectiveness of the medication.
If you are taking Aldactone, you should avoid eating nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts and peanuts. Potassium is also found in fresh milk and yoghurt.
The consumption of alcohol must be avoided when taking this medication as it may increase side effects like muscle pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and dizziness.
If Aldactone can’t be used for acne, alternative medications like isotretinoin (Zenatane, Accutane), antibiotics such as tetracycline or macrolide or a combination of oral contraceptives may be prescribed.
For those who are unable to use spironolactone for hair loss, alternatives include oral dutasteride, minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia).
Alternatives for Aldactone used for treating PCOS can also include birth control pills that reduce androgen production and eflornithine (Vaniqa) for reducing the growth of facial hair in women. Drugs like eflornithine, finasteride and flutamide (Eulexin) are also other Aldactone alternatives for hirsutism.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the commonly asked questions around the use of aldactone.
Does Aldactone increase estrogen?
Although there is not much evidence, aldactone may have a mild estrogenic effect in the body and help restore ovulation and normal menstrual cycle in anovulatory cycles.
Does Aldactone cause hair loss?
Aldactone is an anti-androgen drug, which means it helps lower male hormone levels. Increased levels of male hormones are responsible for causing symptoms such as hirsutism, acne and scalp hair loss. Aldactone can help reduce moderate to severe cases of hair loss. However, it is often the last line of treatment after other medications such as birth control pills haven’t shown results.
Does Aldactone cause weight gain?
There is not much evidence or research to support if aldactone causes weight gain. Aldactone is a diuretic which means it helps eliminate water retention. This can cause weight loss due to loss of body water, but this is not the same as losing body fat.
Is it safe?
Aldactone is generally considered to be a safe medication for most healthy women. However, if you can get pregnant or planning on conceiving, it is important to use birth control along with aldactone as aldactone can have serious birth defects in the unborn child. Also taking too much potassium while you are on aldactone can have serious side effects too so it is important to speak to a speak to a doctor about any supplements you are on or any dietary changes.
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