That's the question prompted by a new study investigating the sexual side effects of the drug finasteride (better known among the hair loss crowd as Propecia). Conducted by scientists at Northwestern University, it argues that finasteride, along with enlarged prostate-treatment drug dutasteride, causes long-term sexual dysfunction, persisting even after users have stopped taking the drug. Finasteride works by blocking production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a potent form of testosterone that contributes to male baldness. Prior to its FDA approval for use in hair loss, the drug was, and continues to be, a treatment for enlarged prostate. As with all drugs, Propecia, which is targeted at the hair loss market, has its side effects, which include decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. These symptoms were reported during the clinical trials, though the reports also noted that these eventually went away after the men stopped taking the drugs. Warnings were included on drug labels when it was first released in 1997, but following various lawsuits (at present 1,370 and counting) and complaints, in 2012, the FDA updated them to highlight that the sexual side effects might persist for at least three months after stopping treatment. Physicians sometimes prescribe finasteride for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), informally known as an enlarged prostate. Finasteride may improve the symptoms associated with BPH such as difficulty urinating, getting up during the night to urinate, hesitation at the start and end of urination, and decreased urinary flow. It provides less symptomatic relief than alpha-1 blockers such as tamsulosin and symptomatic relief is slower in onset (six months or more of treatment with finasteride may be required to determine the therapeutic results of treatment). Symptomatic benefits are mainly seen in those with prostate volume . In long-term studies finasteride but not alpha-1 inhibitors reduce the risk of acute urinary retention (−57% at 4 years) and the need for surgery (−54% at 4 years). If the drug is discontinued, any therapeutic benefits are reversed within about 6–8 months. A followup study of the Medicare claims of participants in a 10-year Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial suggests a significant reduction in prostate cancer risk is maintained even after discontinuation of treatment.
Hair loss medication, Propecia finasteride may be linked to a side effect of sexual dysfunction, a problem which may not go away after. That's the question prompted by a new study investigating the sexual side effects of the drug finasteride better known among the hair loss.