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Hair loss drugs linked to male sexual impairment

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Men who take hair loss drugs, Propecia and Proscar, generically known as finasteride report persistent sexual impairment. Researchers note erectile dysfunction and lack of sex drive can persist even after the hair loss medications are discontinued.

Sexual problems persist for 3 months for men taking hair loss drugs

The report comes from George Washington University. Researchers found sexual problems associated with finasteride can persist up to 3 months in otherwise healthy men taking the drug for treatment of male pattern baldness.

Dr. Michael Irwig, Assistant Professor of Medicine says, “While finasteride has been associated with reversible adverse sexual side effects in multiple randomized placebo controlled trials, this is the first series to find that symptoms persisted for at least three months despite stopping finasteride.”

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Dr. Irwig interviewed 71 men aged 21-46 who were otherwise healthy and taking finasteride. The men who were otherwise healthy reported erectile dysfunction (ED) and loss of sex drive. In the interviews, 69 percent of the men reported difficulty achieving orgasm, 92 percent said they experienced ED and 92 percent said they had difficulty with sexual arousal.

The men had used the hair loss drug an average of 28 months with sexual problems persisting up to 40 months after stopping Propecia or Proscar.

The researchers used the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale to find finesteride use was associated with an increased sexual dysfunction score during and after treatment with the hair loss drugs.

Dr. Irwig says “The study underscores the importance of physicians, who are treating male pattern hair loss, discussing the potential risk of persistent sexual side effects with their patients.”

Finesteride, marketed at Proscar and Propecia is also prescribed by physicians to treat prostate gland enlargement known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. The medication increases testosterone levels to promote hair growth and shrink the prostate gland.