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Using some hair loss drugs, like Avodart and Propecia, to fight baldness may come at a cost of permanent sexual dysfunction for some men, according to the findings of a new study.
Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine reported that the use of Avodart, Proscar and Propecia could be linked to a loss of sexual desire and could increase the risk of depression in men. These side effects could be irreversible. Their findings were published in the March 11 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The drugs belong to a class of medications known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. They block a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Long-term studies have shown that these drugs can shrink an enlarged prostate and can cause lost hair to grow back in about half the men who take it. However, the latest study suggests that the side effects of Avodart, Proscar and Propecia can include loss of libido, depression erectile dysfunction, reduced semen production and growth of male breast tissue.
Scientists who participated in the study say they were unable to determine why the side effects occurred in some men, but said that they persisted even after the men were taken off the medications. The study’s results were determined through a search and analysis of all available medical literature on Avodart, Proscar and Propecia side effects.
Some critics of the study say that there have been no real long-term studies of the side effects and no one can say for sure whether those side effects are permanent.
This study comes about a year after reports that Avodart could be linked to an increased risk of heart failure. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in late March 2010, found that men given Avodart had twice as many heart failures as men given a placebo.
Avodart (dutasteride) was approved by FDA for the treatment of urinary problems in October 2002. Avodart, a GlaxoSmithKline drug, works by reducing the size of an enlarged prostate, by reducing the enzymes that turn testosterone into DHT, which is the primary cause of prostate growth.