Hair Loss Drug Propecia Could Cause Long-Term Erectile Dysfunction

Hair Loss Treatment Propecia Could Cause Long-Term Erectile Dysfunction

Propecia is a known way of treating hair loss. But while it may potentially help men grow lost hair back, a new study shows that certain drugs of this kind, including Propecia, could also cause erectile dysfunction in some users.

According to NBC News, not too many men suffer from this unfortunate tradeoff – only 1.4 percent of men who took the two drugs analyzed in the study suffered from long-term erectile dysfunction. But the operative word here is “long-term,” as the Northwestern University researchers found that this side effect lasted for over three and a half years from the time affected men stopped taking the drugs.

The study published this week in the journal PeerJ also suggests that the chances of Avodart, Proscar, and Propecia users suffering from erectile dysfunction are higher for younger men. The aforementioned drugs are known by the generic names dutasteride and finasteride, and typical one-dose treatments are used to deal with prostate issues men deal with as they age, such as difficulty urinating and general discomfort. Lower doses of the drugs can be used to curb hair loss, NBC News wrote.

In a statement, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine dermatologist Dr. Steven Belknap warned about the long-term risks of taking the drugs, even years after one has stopped consuming them.

“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.”

Last month, finasteride made the news when it was revealed to be President Donald Trump’s preferred hair loss treatment, albeit a risky one that comes with potential side effects. In an interview with the Telegraph, hair loss guru Spencer Stevenson sought to debunk any claims that Propecia could cause erectile dysfunction, admitting that some men may experience it, but so many others have taken the drug without having to deal with such issues.

“Any medication could react with people. I can’t take Nurofen, for instance. So a few men might have had problems with impotence but you don’t hear about all the people who have no side-effects at all. This is overwhelmingly problem-free.”

However, the NBC News report noted that there have been more than a thousand lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical giant Merck over finasteride allegedly causing erectile dysfunction. In some cases, men who took the drug would experience symptoms just days after consuming it for the first time. Further, there are law firms that specifically advertise services for men who claim Propecia gave them erectile dysfunction.

That spurred Northwestern’s Belknap and his fellow researchers to study the cases of over 11,000 men who took finasteride and dutasteride between 1992 and 2013. As mentioned, 1.4 percent of the male subjects suffered from “persistent” erectile dysfunction that lasted an average of 1,348 days, and 4.5 percent of all subjects had to deal with this side effect in some form or another, regardless of how long it lasted.

The researchers observed that taking the drugs was riskier for men aged less than 42-years-old, and for those who took the drugs for at least seven months, for whom the risk of long-term symptoms was about five times greater.

However, Propecia users getting erectile dysfunction may be just the tip of the iceberg, Alvarado Hospital (San Diego) director of sexual medicine Dr. Irwin Goldstein suggested to NBC News. Goldstein was not involved in the Northwestern University study.

“I have hundreds of these patients. They have low libido. They have flat emotions. They see a woman, they say intellectually, ‘I know I am supposed to be interested in you. But I am actually not interested in you’. They have muted orgasms, reduced volume of ejaculate, reduced penile sensation.”

Although 1.4 percent may seem like a small figure, Goldstein added that that may amount to a large number of men whose Propecia use has led to erectile dysfunction.

“If it is 1.4 percent and there are several million people on this product, you’re looking at 300,000 men rendered impotent by a hair loss drug,” he warned.

[Featured Image by docent/Shutterstock]

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