A popular hair growth drug called finasteride may be connected to erectile dysfunction, infertility, and even prostate cancer. A recent study conducted by researchers at Hospital Aleman have shown that patients who have used finasteride (commonly known as Propecia) to treat hair loss or baldness experience a 30% hair regrowth over two years, but have an increased risk of developing sexual disorders as a result of long-term use of the drug.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to many medical researchers. A known side effect of Propecia is erectile dysfunction, which already affects a large group of men (anywhere between a 20-31% estimated and adjusted incidence in men in the United States). The long-term study of Propecia with 4,000 individual men revealed a higher level of infertility and impotence in men who had used Propecia for two years or more consecutively.
Regardless, the benefits outweigh the risks for most men. Even informed of the possible adverse effects of the drug, most men refused to change their regimen, and most dermatologists have no plans to reconsider prescribing it to patients who have experienced hair loss.
Alternatives to Propecia are available but are highly experimental. Some competitor’s products have not yet hit the market or passed the FDA. It took Propecia over seven years of research before it was finally shot through the final pass of FDA approval. It was finally deployed as a drug in late 2006, widely known by a different name due to a branding dispute and patent issue.