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How Effective Is Tamsulosin for Kidney Stones?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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When given tamsulosin for kidney stones, the majority of men are able to quickly eliminate the stones and return to normal health. This medication is most effective when used alongside another treatment that breaks up larger stones into small pieces. In women, taking tamsulosin is not effective for treating kidney stones.

Recent medical studies have confirmed that giving male patients tamsulosin can effectively treat kidney stones. This drug works well when combined with extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), a treatment that uses high-intensity sound waves for breaking kidney stones into smaller pieces. Once the stones are broken up, they are able to pass out of the body in urine. Though ESWL can be used alone, nearly half of patients who receive only this treatment need to have it more than once. Only about a quarter of patients who receive ESWL without the administration of tamsulosin see the condition clear up within a month and only about half within three months.

Patients who are given tamsulosin for kidney stones see a marked improvement over patients only given ESWL. About half of these patients no longer have kidney stones in one month and 80% no longer have them in three months. In terms of long-term treatment, patients who receive tamsulosin usually do not need to return to the doctor to break up large kidney stones a second time. On average, patients who are given tamsulosin for kidney stones have eliminated all the stones within 50 days.

Tamsulosin is only effective in male patients. This drug is an alpha blocker, which is a type of drug that relaxes certain muscles and dilates blood vessels. Specifically, this medication targets a muscle in the prostate gland, which is a gland in the male reproductive system that sits close to the urinary tract. Relaxing this muscle puts less pressure on the urinary tract, allowing kidney stones to pass through it more easily.

Using tamsulosin for kidney stones can be even more effective when paired with a number of self-care treatments. Patients can make sure they drink enough water so that there is more fluid flowing through the urinary tract. They can also watch their sodium intake, so that fluid is not retained by the kidneys. In some cases, patients are given other medications to help with pain and to prevent the loss of calcium through the urine while taking tamsulosin.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1002466 — On Nov 25, 2019

I was prescribed Flomax a few days ago. I am a woman and noticed today when I looked in the mirror, my skin appeared so red, it looked badly sunburned. This is late November. Something is up with my vision. My husband said my skin is as white as ever.

The Flomax did take my kidney stone pain away, but I am not up

for eye problems. The stone has not passed yet, but it's only been

a few days. I'm taking myself off the Flomax. I will see if Doc can prescribe something different for the kidney stones.

By anon999019 — On Oct 10, 2017

As a woman, I have been given Flomax for kidney stones. I find it is much easier to pass with the Flomax. Previously, I was only given pain meds. Maybe there are more studies when it is given to men, but the Flomax has greatly improved the pain associated with the stones and the urinary tract.

By anon996193 — On Jul 22, 2016

I'm a woman, and my doctor prescribed tamsulosin for my kidney stones right away. I was able to pass a 6x8 mm stone. Now, whenever I get that distinctive pain, I start taking tamsulosin again, and I never even need to go to the doctor during an attack. Stones can still take a long time to pass (weeks or even months), but tamsulosin is a godsend in relieving the pain and keeping urine flowing. It works by relaxing the whole urinary system, not just the prostate. Safety during pregnancy has not been studied, but aside from that, there is no reason for women to not take it.

By stoneMason — On May 09, 2015

@anon336439-- As far as I know, Tamsulosin is not approved for women and children. I've heard someone say that rarely, women can be given this medication for urination problems. I don't know if this is true but generally this drug is used for men and it should not be used by women unless specifically told to do so by a doctor. Especially women who may be pregnant should never use this drug.

By anon336439 — On May 28, 2013

Can women take Tamsulosin?

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