In the 23 years since Propecia was approved to treat hair loss from male pattern baldness, side effects have been so concerning, the term post-finasteride syndrome (PFS) has been coined and hundreds of lawsuits have been brought. In addition to its sexual side effects, the drug is linked to serious conditions and has effects cognition and mental states.
A 2013 study in Journal of Sexual Medicine noted "changes related to the urogenital system in terms of semen quality and decreased ejaculate volume, reduction in penis size, penile curvature or reduced sensation, fewer spontaneous erections, decreased testicular size, testicular pain, and prostatitis." Many subjects also noted a "disconnection between the mental and physical aspects of sexual function," and changes in mental abilities, sleeping patterns, and/or depressive symptoms.
A 2014 study in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology finds that "altered levels of neuroactive steroids, associated with depression symptoms, are present in androgenic alopecia patients even after discontinuation of the finasteride treatment."
In 2010 depression was added to labels as a side effect and patients were warned that finasteride could have an effect on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests . In 2011, the label conceded that sexual dysfunction could continue"after stopping the medication" and that finasteride could pose a "risk of high-grade prostate cancer." In 2012, a warning was added that "other urological conditions" should be considered before taking finasteride. Soon, "male breast cancer" was added under "postmarketing experience." Then the side effect of angioedema was added.
There are many Propecia horror stories on sites founded to help people with side effects and those involved in litigation. In 2011, a mother told CBS news she blamed her 22-year-old son's suicide on Propecia and Men's Journal ran a report called "The (Not So Hard) Truth About Hair Loss Drugs."
Sexual Side Effects But A Full Head Of Hair
Finasteride inhibits a steroid responsible for converting testosterone into 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) the hormone that tells hair follicles on the scalp to stop producing hair. Years before Propecia was approved to grow hair, finasteride was being used in drugs like Proscar, Avodart and Jalyn to treat an enlarged prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia). Like Viagra, which began as a blood pressure med, or the eyelash-growing drug Latisse, which began as a glaucoma drug, finasteride's hair restoration abilities were a fortuitous side effect.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).