According to a new study, Propecia, Proscar, and Avodart, which are sold as the generics finasteride and dutasteride, can cause long-term erectile dysfunction.

Results showed that 1.4 percent of the men who took the drugs suffered from erectile dysfunction, lasting at least 3 and a half years after they stopped taking the drugs. The study concluded that the younger the men, the more likely they were to suffer from long-term erectile dysfunction.

Erectile Dysfunction, Hair Loss
Erectile dysfunction affects 18 million men in the U.S., as reported by the NCBI. Image credit:

Saving hair but sacrificing something else

Coincidentally, Propecia earned some recognition as a hair loss treatment after it was stated that President Donald Trump takes the drug to prevent hair loss. Finasteride and dutasteride can be taken in low doses to treat hair loss, and in higher doses to help treat prostate inflammation, which commonly occurs in men as they become older.

The drug acts upon an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase, which is critical for the activation of testosterone. This ends up affecting the prostate and many of the male traits that are based on testosterone.

Researchers based at Northwestern University studied 11,000 men who took the drug between 1992 and 2013. 1.4 percent of them were diagnosed with persistent erectile dysfunction, lasting well over 1,300 days, while 4.5 of the patients suffered from some form of the condition, whether it was long-term, permanent, or short-term erectile dysfunction. Apparently, taking Viagra, Cialis, and similar drugs did not help.

It seems that erectile dysfunction is just one of the problems, as the prolonged intake of Propecia, Proscar, or Avodart can cause loss of sexual interest and libido.

“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,” stated to NBC Dr. Irwin Goldstein, head of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego.

Propecia and its sibling drugs are meant to be taken once a day, as prescribed by a doctor. They claim that results start being noticeable in less than three months. Also, the medication must be taken continuously to maintain the hair growth, and any gain in hair quantity will be lost within 12 months if the patient stops taking the drug.

Finasteride and dutasteride are already labeled with a warning to patients about reduced sexual desire. They can also reduce the amount of semen released during sex. These side effects are often labeled as harmless, but they can persist years after the patient has stopped taking the medicine. Because the drug acts on testosterone and testosterone has a wide range of functions that go beyond hair growth and sexual desire, the drug may affect other bodily processes.

If there is a side effect or an allergic reaction, the patient should seek advice from its doctor. Other side effects include an unnoticed breast lump, nipple discharge, testicular pain, inability to urinate, and breast enlargement or pain.

Side effects may be reported to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gob/medwatch.

Source: NBC