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Health Quest – Baldness Drugs And Impotence, Depression

Hadley’s comments: Studies suggest that male pattern baldness can be a sign a man has higher levels of testosterone than men with a full head of hair. Since testosterone is the hormone known for supporting sex drive and sexual performance, can we learn to see hearty masculinity as a sexy tradeoff for hair loss?

Medical researchers now warn balding men that the popular drugs they use to regrow hair can affect their sex hormones and make them impotent and depressed. Would you trade your ability to have sex or risk becoming depressed and suicidal for a full head of hair? Before you decide to take those drugs, here’s what you should know:

Guest post is written by Charlotte Libov, courtesy of newsmax health:

Doctors will exercise more caution in prescribing the popular male pattern baldness drugs Propecia and Proscar after new findings show they could increase the risk of erectile dysfunction, depression, and even suicide. Still, the report is not necessarily a reason to stop prescribing the medications, a top dermatologist says.

A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that the drugs — which both have the chemical name finasteride — are linked to sexual dysfunction and depression even long after patients stop taking them. However, Dr. Karthik Krishnamurthy tells Newsmax Health that he will continue to prescribe Propecia and Proscar, but take extra precautions to make sure his patients understand the risks.

“I will continue to inform my patients of all the side effects, but I may now more heavily stress the possible sexual and psychiatric side effects,” said Dr. Krishnamurthy, director of the Cosmetic Dermatology Clinic at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y.

Janet Lin, M.D., a dermatologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, told Newsmax Health that she agrees the drugs can still be used. “I talk to men about depression when we discuss Propecia. I’d always thought about it, but now this research is pointing out that it might be more serious,” she said.

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Dr. Lin added that she doesn’t see any reason why men who are successfully using Propecia should stop, although they should consider it if they notice any sexual or psychiatric side effects.

The study looked at 61 men who were former users of the drug and experienced sexual side effects lasting more than three months. According to the findings, 83 percent reported depression ranging from mild to severe, and 44 percent reported suicidal thoughts. In a control group of 29 men who had never used the drug, only 10 percent reported mild depressive symptoms with no cases of moderate or severe symptoms and only 3 percent reported suicidal thoughts.

Dr. Michael S. Irwig, the study’s lead author, told Newsmax Health he decided to look into serious depression and suicide after performing earlier studies that focused on the drug’s sexual side effects and noticing that depression was a common theme.

Even though the study doesn’t prove that the drug causes depression, the findings are cause for serious concern, said Dr. Irwig, an assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“I think it’s very scary to have a young man who is otherwise healthy who takes a cosmetic medicine and, in addition to not losing his hair, develops severe depression and suicidal thoughts,” added Dr. Irwig. “I’ve met men who have dropped out of work, dropped out of school, are unable to date, and the list goes on. It’s a game changer.”

In April, the FDA changed the labeling on Propecia, broadening the drug’s warning that the sexual side effects — which include impotence, loss of interest in sex, difficulty ejaculating, and poor quality sperm — could persist even after the drug was stopped.

More research needs to be done to determine the safety of finasteride, Dr. Irwig says, and he is hoping the FDA will launch its own investigation.

“I am hoping that people become aware before a young man starts casually taking the medicine without knowing the side effects,” he said.

Propecia counteracts male pattern baldness by affecting certain male hormones in the blood. The drug is not the only choice for balding men. Minoxidil, most commonly known as Rogaine, is applied topically and does not affect hormone levels. It has no reported sexual side effects. However, minoxidil is also not considered as effective as Propecia.

Despite the alarming Propecia findings, it may still be a good choice for some men, said Dr. Krishnamurthy. “The drug does work, and it works very well for hair regrowth,” he said, adding, “Whether to use it or not is a personal decision and really depends on how psychologically you are affected by your hair loss. It’s all about informed decision making.”

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