Although male pattern baldness can be a stressful and frustrating condition to deal with, popular hair restoration drugs like Propecia can cause side effects that men need to be aware of. The principle ingredient in this medication, finasteride, is highly effective at reducing and reversing hair loss due to androgenic alopecia. However, it can alter the mental and sexual functions in those who take it, and is extremely dangerous around women who are pregnant.
The primary cause of androgenic alopecia is the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is a sex steroid that is more common in older men and in people with certain genetic markers. Around hair follicles, DHT inhibits an insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1. This substance is important in the development of healthy hair shafts, and when it is not present, hairs will shrink in size and eventually be lost completely. Most hair loss treatments seek to neutralize the effects of DHT around hair follicles, and finasteride is no different. Finasteride specifically acts on the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, serving as a competitive inhibitor. Several research studies have found finasteride to be among the most effective drugs available for treating androgenic alopecia. A 10-year study has found that 86 percent of men who took the medication experienced benefits for as long as they took the drug. However, finasteride’s benefits will stop once a patient stops taking the drug.
Propecia Side Effects
In the last few years, several case studies have revealed the dangers of Propecia’s side effects. These include sexual complications, which have been thoroughly studied by research institutions. The Swedish Medical Products agency investigated the drug in 2008 and found that people taking finasteride may experience permanent sexual dysfunction. The most common complication reported in the study was erectile dysfunction. The Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK reported similar findings. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration accepted a label update from finasteride’s manufacturer, Merck, which outlined possible sexual complications associated with the medication. In addition to erectile dysfunction, patients also reported problems with decreased libido and ejaculation disorders. These problems can be permanent once they present themselves, and will remain even after finasteride is no longer taken.
Other Propecia side effects include a higher incidence rate of anxiety and depression. The Journal of Dermatology found that finasteride caused moderate or severe depression in 19 of 23 patients surveyed. All of the women included in the study suffered from depression or anxiety. A small number of patients have also reported suicide ideation. These patients may suffer from mental disturbance even after they halt their use of the drug. Finally, finasteride can cause severe birth complications if a pregnant woman comes in contact with the medication. In fact, the FDA has moved finasteride into Pregnancy Category X, which means that there is conclusive evidence that the drug can cause birth defects.
Anyone who has taken finasteride and suffered from any of these complications should consider speaking to a drug injury attorney. Several complications associated with this medication are permanent and will require ongoing treatment. Compensation from a successful lawsuit can help a victim pay for medical bills or other day-to-day expenses associated with their suffering.