Does Propecia Cause Impotence?

Does Propecia Cause Impotence? Our friends who use Propecia to treat male pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia) in men might be concerned with recent media reports suggesting that the drug can cause impotence.

Does it really do that? You bet it can. In fact, erectile dysfuntion & impotence are listed among the medication’s side effects. [See: Propecia Side Effects]

Moreover, a new research study has come out to suggest that these sexual-related side effects are not just temporary but can be persistent and long-lasting.

Says Dr Michael Irwig from George Washington University who led the study:

It’s been very frustrating for a lot of these men because they’ve sought care from medical professionals who have looked at the literature and have not seen a risk of persistent sexual dysfunction.

It turns out that almost all the men had multiple sexual function problems.

Before finasteride use, the men experienced average sexual activity of approximately 26 episodes per month, but after use, it came down to approximately eight per month — an almost two-thirds reduction. [Ed note: finasteride is the active ingredient in Propecia.]

Twenty per cent of patients I interviewed experienced persistent sexual dysfunction for more than five years, which makes me wonder if their persistent sexual dysfunction is permanent.

We know that this is a potential problem, but we can’t quantify what the exact risk is. I can’t tell a man if he has a 1-in-100 chance, or a 1-in-1000 chance of developing persistent sexual dysfunction, but it’s pretty clear there’s a relationship here.

The study which was recently published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine involved interviews with 71 men between the ages of 21 to 46 years old to assess “how long they took finasteride, the type and duration of sexual side effects and their sexual frequency before and after the medication”.

They researchers made the following findings:

  • 94 per cent developed low libido, 92 per cent developed erectile dysfunction and decreased arousal, and 69 per cent developed problems with orgasm
  • the men experienced persistent sexual side effects for an average of 40 months, from the time they ceased taking the medication to the time of the interview.
  • the men also had less sex after Propecia use

Some are questioning the validity of the above findings because of a) the small number of participants and b) the fact that they were recruited from an online forum where people discuss the bad side effects of Propecia.

Valid points, no? But let us not forget that the manufacturer itself, Merck Pharma, explicitly mention impotence and other kinds of sexual dysfunction as the side effects of Propecia.

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Does Propecia Cause Impotence? Posted 14 July 2012. Last updated on 14 July 2012.