Long-term use of medications used to treat enlarged prostate and hormone-related hair loss in men have been linked to persistent erectile dysfunction that continued for months or years despite discontinuation of treatment, according to new research published in the journal Peerj.
The issue concerns the drugs dutasteride and finasteride. Dutasteride, known by the brand name Avodart, used to treat enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia. Finasteride, sold under the brand names Proscar and Propecia, treats enlarged prostate as well as androgenic alopecia in men. Both drugs are in a class of medications called 5a-reductase inhibitors or 5a-RIs.
Propecia made headlines in recent months after President Donald Trump’s personal physician revealed the president was taking the medication to treat male pattern baldness.
“The new findings of an association between debilitating sexual dysfunction and exposure to finasteride or dutasteride should be of particular interest to prescribers and patients considering medical management of androgenic alopecia or symptomatic treatment of enlarged prostate,” said lead author Dr. Steven Belknap, a research assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University.
The research involved an analysis of 11,909 men with persistent erectile dysfunction (PED) ages 16 to 89 who were exposed to either finasteride or dutasteride between 1992 and 2013. PED was identified by symptoms lasting at least 90 days after treatment with a 5a-RI drug. Men with shorter exposure to the drug were compared to those who had been exposed for longer periods of time.
Researchers found that men who used finasteride or dutasteride can get persistent erectile dysfunction that can linger for months or years after stopping the medication. They also noted that longer exposure increased the risk of experiencing sexual problems.