Flomax (Tamsulosin), is an alpha-blocker commonly prescribed to men battling benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate.
BPH is a condition that affects about 50 percent of men between the ages of 51 and 60 and up to 90 percent of men older than 80.
It occurs when the prostate, expands to twice or even three times its regular size.
The growing prostate gland gradually presses against the urethra, restricting urinary flow and resulting in urinary problems.
However, while Flomax has long been the mainstay of treatment for men with BPH and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), little research has investigated the use of alpha-blockers in women.
This article will discuss the effectiveness of using Flomax for women.
What is Flomax used for?
As discussed, Flomax is generally used to relieve urinary symptoms associated with BPH.
Flomax works by paralyzing the muscles around your urethra and your bladder sphincter. The sphincter muscles enable you to hold in your urine until you can get to a toilet.
However, although it helps to ease urination, it does not affect your prostate health whatsoever.
You may experience short-term relief of urinary symptoms, but it does not address the underlying cause.
A 2003 Cochrane systematic review looked at the effects of Tamsulosin for BPH. The analysis involved 14 studies, ranging between 1 to 6 months long.
Although the participants reported improvements in symptoms, it was also found that men reported dizziness, rhinitis, and abnormal ejaculation compared to the placebo group.
The authors of this review suggested a need for more extended studies looking at the long term effects was required.
A further known side effect of Flomax is hypotension. A study in the BMJ (October 26, 2015) revealed that alpha-blockers, such as Flomax, can increase the risk of falls. The study found a 15-16% increased risk for fractures and head trauma during the first three months of taking such medications.
Flomax is also used as a treatment for kidney stones. Kidney stones form as a buildup of various compounds that become sedimented in the upper urinary tract.
They often go unnoticed as they do not grow big enough and can be eliminated without causing any significant symptoms.
Flomax is known to relax the smooth muscle in the urinary tract. It may also reduce the effect of entrapment that often leads to urinary obstruction in cases of kidney stones.
Does Flomax have side effects?
The problem with the prescription medication is that it has side effects and like other drugs do. Here is a list of some of the long list of adverse effects from Flomax:
- Congested sinuses
- Skin rash
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Blurred vision
- Floppy iris syndrome
- Blood pressure falls low.
- Erectile dysfunction / low libido
- Risk of respiratory tract infections
- Painful urination
Flomax for women
The FDA does not approve the use of Flomax for women, but Tamsulosin is sometimes prescribed off-label to women for the treatment of an overactive bladder, voiding in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and urinary retention.
Similar to the way it works for BPH, Tamsulosin is effective by relaxing smooth muscle in the urinary tract.
Flomax is listed as a category B medication for pregnancy. This means that the side effects during pregnancy are unknown.
Is Flomax effective?
A review evaluated Tamsulosin for the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms in women.
All trials showed statistically significant improvement with Tamsulosin in female lower urinary tract symptoms (especially in women with predominant voiding dysfunction) as well as improvements in quality of life and sleep quality.
However, several side effects were reported, including, dizziness and asthenia, stress incontinence and urgency, fatigue, drowsiness, and hypotension.
Tamsulosin has been studied and found helpful for reducing excessive nighttime urination in women.
269 patients completed a voiding diary, a questionnaire on the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) sleep scale and underwent follow-up evaluation after 4 weeks of treatment (Tamsulosin, 0.2 mg, once daily).
The effectiveness of the treatment was assessed by analysis of the IPSS, the bother score, the Qmax, and postvoid residual urine (PVR).
Nocturia was significantly reduced after tamsulosin treatment. Thereby, sleep quality was also improved
Although some studies suggest that Flomax can improve urinary symptoms in women, the majority of evidence suggests that Tamsulosin is moderately effective at best.
Further long term studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of Flomax for women and the side effects that it can cause.
Meanwhile, extensive studies have reviewed the use of Flomax for men, especially in regards to treating BPH.
A large number of these studies have reported dangerous side effects associated with Flomax including; erectile dysfunction, hypotension, long-term incontinence, and floppy iris syndrome.
Women taking Tamsulosin or considering taking Tamsulosin should be made aware that taking this medication means that symptoms are unlikely to go completely.
It is also essential to bear in mind that Flomax can have significant side effects that can impact the quality of life.
The research into the effectiveness of Flomax for women remains limited. However, a number of side effects have been reported, and the FDA has not approved the use of the drug for women. Before taking Tamsulosin, speak with your doctor about the possible side effects.