Propecia Sexual Side Effects Also Linked to Reduced Social Drinking

In findings that highlight the potentially profound side effects of Propecia on the brain, new research shows that men who experience sexual dysfunction after using the hair-loss drug also have reported a reduced desire for alcohol.  

According to a study published in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Researchon June 13, researchers found that men who suffer problems like erectile dysfunction, decreased libido or other sexual side effects after using Propecia also start to engage in less social drinking, which indicates that the hair loss drug is altering the brain’s chemistry.

The research was conducted by Dr. Michael S. Irwig, from the Center for Andrology and Division of Endocrinology at George Washington University. The study looked at 83 otherwise healthy men who developed persistent sexual side effects after taking Propecia, which continued at least three months after they ceased using the drug.

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According to the findings, 65% of the men who drank at least one alcoholic beverage per week before starting Propecia drank less after they stopped taking the drug, although in most of the men the alcohol consumption decrease began while they were still taking it. The findings are the latest sign that Propecia alters the brain chemistry and may cause potentially serious side effects that may not have been adequately disclosed to consumers.

In his conclusion, Dr. Irwig warned that further research is needed on how Propecia affects the human central nervous system.

Propecia Sexual Dysfunction Side Effects

Propecia (finasteride) has been aggressively marketed by Merck as a prescription medication to help men restore natural hair loss that occurs with male pattern baldness. However, the drug maker now faces a number of Propecia lawsuits filed by men who allege that information was withheld about the risk of the drug causing sexual problems, which often continue even after the medication is no longer used.

While men generally take the medication to help improve their appearance and overall quality of life, a mounting number of former users are now stepping forward and indicating that they have been left with erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, genital shrinkage and problems with cognition.

In April 2012, the FDA announced that Merck had agreed to update the Propecia warning label, adding indications that men have reported suffering permanent sexual dysfunction after taking the medication.

Men who are now pursuing a lawsuit against Merch allege that the drug maker knew or should have known about the risk of problems for years and withheld information about the risk from consumers and the medical community. For years the indications on the drug’s warning label suggested that any sexual side effects seen during clinical trials resolved after the medication was no longer taken.

Some of the lawsuits claim that the rate of sexual dysfunction has been found to affect as many as 39%  of Propecia users. The lawsuits also point to a 2003 study, which found that only 50% of patients saw sexual problems dissipate after they discontinued using Propecia, despite information provided for many years on the Merck warning label.


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