Finasteride is the go-to drug for treating two of the most common dilemmas among men: prostate and hair loss problems.
A super drug? Apparently not.
Latest study suggests that hair loss and prostate medications, such as finasteride and dutasteride, cause a much bigger problem for men: long-term erectile dysfunction.
What Is Finasteride
Originally, finasteride was formulated to specifically address urinary problems in men. Studies show that it can make the prostate glands smaller by decreasing the levels of the dihydrotestosterone hormone in the body.
Interestingly, finasteride comes with a positive side effect, too: hair growth. In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the steroid inhibitor to treat male pattern baldness. The drug soon became available in the market under the brand name Propecia.
Impotence In Men Taking Finasteride And Dutasteride
"Our study shows [that] men who take finasteride or dutasteride can get persistent erectile dysfunction, in which they will not be able to have normal erections for months or years after stopping finasteride or dutasteride," Dr. Steven Belknap, a senior author of the study, said.
Dr. Belknap's team looked into the medical data of 11,909 men treated at the Northwestern Medicine, aged 16 to 89, and who have been prescribed hair loss and prostate treatment drugs even once between 1992 and 2013.
The results were alarming. They discovered that at least 167 of the men (1.4 percent) who were given either finasteride or dutasteride experienced sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction, for as long as 1,348 days after they have stopped taking the medication.
The Younger, The Bigger The Risk
According to the study, in 16- to 42-year-old men, the length of time they took the hair loss drugs was a stronger indicator of their chances of developing erectile dysfunction compared to dosage and medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, which are well-known risk factors for ED. This is especially true for younger men.
The details of the study were published in the journal PeerJ.
Adverse Effects Of Finasteride
Other than impotence and reduced libido, other reported adverse effects of finasteride or Propecia in men include: breast enlargement and tenderness, tenderness around the nipples hives, unusual weight gain or weight loss, dizziness, chills, and swelling of the lips and face.
In 2015, Dr. Belknap and his colleagues wrote a meta-analysis, which was published in the journal of JAMA Dermatology, where they found no powerful evidence to prove finasteride's safety.