If you’re a balding man, you know the hit losing your hair takes on your confidence. You can’t style your hair the same anymore. You can’t pass by a mirror without staring right at your head.
It’s proof that you’re aging is undeniable, and most men will go to great lengths to stop that.
Some men turn to topical products like Rogaine or shampoos to try to help stop hair loss. For others, they try to go even further and put end up putting there health at great risk. The one medication that most often prescribed is Finasteride, the active ingredient in Propecia.
It is supposed to perform exceptionally well for slowing follicle loss in the crown. While that may in fact be true, it can also lead to life altering changes in mood, well-being and sexual function. We want to help you understand the risk before you permanently alter your hormones.
What Is Finasteride?
Finasteride, sold as Proscar and Propecia, was designed to help men with enlarged prostates. The medication requires a prescription, and is has been shown to be highly effective at helping men regrow their hair.
In fact, this oral medication is often praised as being the absolute best way to regrow your hair.
But pharmaceutical companies have greatly downplayed the severe side effects that this medication poses. Post Finasteride syndrome is very serious, and the side effects can be far more devastating than a person’s hair loss.
What Does Finasteride Do?
A male’s natural body hormone, DHT, is responsible for hair loss. Finasteride works to decrease DHT amounts, reversing hair loss and often causing new hair follicles to grow. Drug makers claim that the medication, which is not recommended for women or children, will help hair on the head grow, but it will not cause hair to grow in other areas of the body.
If you look online, you’ll find that finasteride has been able to restore the hair of severely balding men.
It works, and it works better than most any other product on the market for hair loss.
The problem is that men don’t consider the severe side effects that go along with the medication. Oftentimes, men are never told about these side effects and what they mean for their long-term health.
Side Effects of Finasteride
Post Finasteride Syndrome (PFS) is very serious, and it shows how far-reaching your usage of finasteride can be. You might have your hair, but you’ll be risking your overall health by using finasteride.
What is PFS?
PFS is the reaction that men have when they take a 5-alpha reductase type II enzyme inhibitor like finasteride.
There’s no cure. Effective treatments are not available.
The persistent side effects include:
- Mental reactions (brain fog, depression, higher risk of suicide)
- Sexual issues (no feeling during orgasm, loss of erection stength)
- Neurological issues (loss of memory, lack of focus)
- Physical reactions (loss of musle, bloating, weight gain)
All of these side effects are persistent.
If that doesn’t make you reconsider the value of saving your follicles, consider the following symptoms that have been reported by thousands of men.:
- Loss of sex drive or a decrease in libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of spontaneous erection
- Loss of a pleasurable orgasm
- Decrease in semen volume
- Peyronie’s disease
- Penile numbness
- Penile shrinkage
- Scrotal numbness
- Chronic fatigue
- Breast development
- Severe memory loss
- Severe recall impairment
- Suicidal tendencies
- Slowed cognition
- Problems problem solving
- Sleep apnea
- Chronic dry skin
- Skin thinning
- Loss of fat tissue
- Increased obesity
These are just some of the many issues that men with PFS suffer from for the rest of their lives.
A main issue, and one of the reasons I decided not to give this medication a try, is that it can completely ruin your sex drive.
It can make it so that you can no longer get an erection permanently.
These issues do not just occur while taking the medication. When you stop taking the medication, many of these issues will continue. There’s no going back, so if you’re one of the growing number of men that are thinking of finasteride to help with hair loss, it can have life-altering consequences.
PFS has been reported in 15,771 people worldwide, with 59 suicides linked to PFS. There are 15 nations that warn against the condition, and 37 research topics have been published on the matter.
Studies into PFS are ongoing, but the studies that are available show the severe dangers of this drug. A few studies of note are:
Epigenetic Modifications Do Occur
A Phase III study conducted at the University of Milan showed that epigenetic modifications occur in PFS patients, and these modifications are very serious. The study looked at blood samples of 16 PFS patients and 20 patients who were part of the control group.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples were also taken in the 16 PFS patients and in 13 control patients.
The team of researchers found a methylation pattern of SRD5A2 promoter in PFS patients. This is a gene that is responsible for the body making 5-alpha reductase, type 2. Finasteride is designed to inhibit this gene.
In the CSF samples of patients, researchers found that the SRD5A2 promote was methylated more frequently compared to the control group.
What does this mean? This means that in PFS patients, DNA methylation occurs more often which could be responsible for the long-lasting side effects of patients.
When methylation occurs, the gene is effectively silenced or reduced.
Treatment of Male Rats with Finasteride
The same researchers also tested the drug on rats, and found that there were severe altercations to the hippocampus which is responsible for long-term memory and a person’s emotional responses.
What researchers found was that the brain was altered, resulting in:
- Long-term depressive behavior
- Alterations the hippocampus, including inflammatory cytokines
- Gut microbe composition alterations
Rats that were taken off of the drug were found to have their gut microbiota altered even one month after withdrawal symptoms occurred.
The study, which took place over a three-year period, included 16 men with PFS and 25 who were part of the control group.
Men who suffered from severe erectile dysfunction after taking finasteride were found to have neuropathy of the pudendal nerve.
Evidence of Increased ED Rates
The Journal of American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) found that there was an increased rate of erectile dysfunction in men who took finasteride over patients do not take finasteride. It’s important to note that the study found five research papers to be not supportive of increased sexual dysfunction rates.
But the researchers found that there is more evidence than not that finasteride causes sexual dysfunction.
Patients that took 5mg-10mg of the drug were found to have decreased impotence, ejaculation disorders and libido issues. A total of three studies found that patients were able to reverse the side effects of PFS, but there were 11 studies that found conditions to be irreversible.
Out of 11,909 patients that had PFS, 167 had persistent ED which has a severe impact on a person’s sexual activity and pleasure.
Doctors are beginning to warn their patients of the severe risks that comes with finasteride usage. The main issue is that the drug doesn’t just block the hormones that are responsible for hair loss – it blocks an array of hormones blocked.
Hormones play an important role in the body’s natural function, and when impaired, these hormones will impact: emotion, mood and psyche, among many other emotions.
The risk of persistent side effects is seen in both young men and older adults.
Researchers warn that younger adults should not take finasteride, as the side effects can be life-long.
FDA officials denied Merck & Co’s application for the drug being added to the List of Approved Drugs back in 2000. Officials were concerned that the drug would pose long-term safety risks in pediatric patients. But the drug is still sold today, and a lot of men are purchasing it solely because it has been proven to be effective against hair loss.