Hair loss and prostate drugs linked to persistent erectile dysfunction in men

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Hair loss and prostate drugs linked to persistent erectile dysfunction in men
Credit: Northwestern University.

Men with longer exposure to the drugs finasteride and dutasteride had a higher risk of getting persistent erectile dysfunction than men with less exposure, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

The persistent erectile dysfunction continued despite stopping these drugs, in some cases for months or years.

Among young men, prolonged exposure to the drugs posed a greater risk of persistent erectile dysfunction (PED) than all other assessed risk factors.

This means there is a stronger relationship between taking these drugs and having PED than having diabetes, hypertension or smoking, which are other risk factors.

Erectile dysfunction is difficulty achieving and maintaining a sufficient erection to have sex. Persistent erectile dysfunction continued despite stopping the drug and continued despite taking sildenafil (Viagra) or similar drug.

Prior to the new study, there was no strong evidence that finasteride and dutasteride cause sexual problems that continue after men stop taking them.

There also was no strong evidence that taking these drugs for a longer time increases the chance of experiencing sexual problems.

“Our study shows 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,” said lead study author Dr. Steven Belknap.

Finasteride and dutasteride are drugs that are male hormone blockers. These drugs block the conversion of testosterone to its more active form, 5 alpha dihydrotestosterone.

Finasteride is prescribed to some men with prostate enlargement or baldness. Dutasteride is prescribed to some men with prostate enlargement.

The new findings of an association between debilitating sexual dysfunction and exposure to finasteride or dutasteride should be of particular interest to prescribers and patients considering medical management of androgenic alopecia (hair loss) or symptomatic treatment of enlarged prostate, Belknap said.